Access Key Definitions
Skip navigation
Access key details
Home page
Latest updates
Site map
Search
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Terms and conditions
National Curriculum

Assessment in history

 

Making a judgement

At the end of a key stage, teachers should judge which level description best fits the pupil's performance. Each description should be considered alongside descriptions for adjacent levels. When making a judgement at the end of a key stage, you may wish to note the following points.

Making your judgement

  • You will arrive at judgements by taking into account strengths and weaknesses in performance across a range of contexts and over a period of time, rather than focusing on a single piece of work.

  • A single piece of work will not cover all the expectations set out in a level description. It will probably provide partial evidence of attainment in one or more aspects of a level description. If you look at it alongside other pieces of work covering a range of contexts you will be able to make a judgement about which level best fits a pupil's overall performance.

  • The aspects of the level descriptions are interrelated. Although work at levels 1 to 3 may often be based on individual aspects, work at higher levels often relates to a combination of aspects within the level description. It is for this reason that the level descriptions are designed to be considered as a whole when making judgements, rather than as separate parts.

  • In making a judgement, you will need to consider pupils' breadth and depth of historical knowledge, the extent to which pupils use their knowledge accurately, and their ability to select and deploy relevant knowledge and understanding. It is important to recognise where pupils are communicating knowledge and understanding effectively. In some circumstances, well-written, fluent work may hide a tendency to rely on unsubstantiated generalisations together with a lack of in-depth knowledge.

  • You will also need to consider the amount of support provided across the range of work, the demand of tasks and a pupil's ability to transfer skills from one activity to another. Some activities may offer more opportunities for pupils to show what they know, understand and can do than others. A pupil's performance is affected by the degree of support offered by the teacher or the activity.

  • You will need to consider the degree of independence shown. Independence in carrying out research and supporting conclusions, making links and in making historical judgements is an important characteristic of work at higher levels.

Giving pupils opportunities to demonstrate attainment

  • Your pupils will need to use a range of forms of communication to show what they can do.

  • In planning units of work and classroom approaches, you will need to provide opportunities for pupils to display their achievements in different ways, and to work in a range of situations, for example oral work, drama, written work, work using ICT.

  • To achieve the highest levels, pupils need opportunities to marshal arguments and communicate effectively.

Recording

Although you will want to be able to explain why you have awarded particular levels to pupils at the end of the key stage, there is no requirement for judgements to be explained in a particular way or to be supported by detailed collections of evidence for each pupil. Decisions about collecting information, about its purpose and how it should be used are matters for teachers working within an agreed departmental and school policy.

Progression in history

There are five aspects of attainment in history at key stages 1 and 2:

  1. chronological understanding

  2. knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past

  3. historical interpretations

  4. historical enquiry

  5. organisation and communication.

Performance has been outlined here in terms of:

  • general characteristics of progression

  • progression by aspect.

General characteristics of progression

Knowledge, skills and understanding are interrelated in history. Progression at key stages 1 and 2 is characterised by:

  • asking and answering more complex questions

  • making links and connections between different areas of learning

  • understanding more general and specific historical concepts

  • growing understanding of and proficiency in the use of historical skills

  • an increasing ability to apply skills across different areas of learning

  • using a greater depth and range of historical knowledge to provide more reasoned explanations

  • becoming independent in learning.

Progression by aspect

Expected performance in each aspect has been outlined for the end of years 2, 4 and 6. Typical performance by the end of:

  • year 2 is level 2

  • year 4 is level 3

  • year 6 is level 4.

 

Performance at the end of year 2 is characterised by pupils showing the following attributes in their work.

Chronological understanding (year 2)

Pupils:

  • use terms concerned with the passing of time

  • place events and objects in order

  • recognise their own lives are different from lives of people in the past.

Knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past (year 2)

Pupils:

  • show knowledge and understanding of aspects of the past beyond living memory

  • show knowledge and understanding of some of the main events and people studied

  • begin to recognise that there are reasons why people in the past acted as they did.

Historical interpretation (year 2)

Pupils:

  • begin to identify some of the different ways in which the past is represented.

Historical enquiry (year 2)

Pupils:

  • observe or handle sources of information to answer questions about the past on the basis of simple observations.

Organisation and communication (year 2)

Pupils

  • convey an awareness and understanding of the past in a variety of ways.

 

Performance at the end of year 4 is characterised by pupils showing the following attributes in their work.

Chronological understanding (year 4)

Pupils:

  • realise that the past can be divided into different periods of time

  • recognise some of the similarities and differences between periods

  • use some dates and terms.

Knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past (year 4)

Pupils:

  • show knowledge and understanding of some of the main events, people and changes studied

  • begin to give a few reasons for, and results of, the main events and changes.

Historical interpretation (year 4)

Pupils:

  • begin to identify some of the different ways in which the past is represented.

Historical enquiry (year 4)

Pupils:

  • use sources of information in ways that go beyond simple observations to answer questions about the past.

Organisation and communication (year 4)

Pupils:

  • present recalled or selected information in a variety of ways using specialist terms.

 

Performance at the end of year 6 is characterised by pupils showing the following attributes in their work.

Chronological understanding (year 6)

Pupils:

  • place events, people and changes within a chronological framework

  • make appropriate use of dates and chronological conventions such as BC, AD, century and decade.

Knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past (year 6)

Pupils:

  • show factual knowledge and understanding of aspects of the history of Britain and the wider world

  • use knowledge and understanding to describe characteristic features of past societies and periods

  • identify changes within and across different periods

  • describe some of the main events, people and changes studied

  • give some reasons for, and results of, the main events and changes.

Historical interpretation (year 6)

Pupils:

  • show some understanding that aspects of the past have been represented and interpreted in different ways.

Historical enquiry (year 6)

Pupils:

  • begin to select and combine information from different sources.

Organisation and communication (year 6)

Pupils:

  • begin to produce structured work, making appropriate use of dates and terms.

About the attainment target

The attainment target in history sets out the knowledge, skills and understanding that pupils of different abilities and maturities are expected to have by the end of each key stage. Attainment targets consist of eight level descriptions of increasing difficulty, plus a description of exceptional performance above level 8. Each level description describes the type and range of performance that pupils working at that level should characteristically demonstrate.

The level descriptions provide the basis for making judgements about pupils' performance at the end of a key stage.

The majority of pupils are expected to work at:

  • levels 1-3 in key stage 1 and attain level 2 at the end of the key stage

  • levels 2-5 in key stage 2 and attain level 4 at the end of the key stage.

By indicating expectations at particular levels and by charting broad progression in the subject, the level descriptions can also inform planning, teaching and assessment. Please note, the level descriptions are not designed to be used to 'level' individual pieces of work. 

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

Quick links

Back to top