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Confused about KS3 levels?

(31 Posts)
Oakmaiden Thu 07-Apr-11 22:30:06

Right - this is similar to a current thread on here, but thought I would start a new one as I have a specific question. Hope this is OK.

Basically I have just been to my sons parents evening - he is in Year 8. Apparently his targets for the end of Year 9 (so End of KS2) are all level 5's (except PE, which he is aiming at a 4 for). When I queried this - as ds got Level 5 in his science KS2 SATS and only a couple of marks short of level 5 for maths (according to his teacher at the time) I was told that KS2 SATS results aren't really relevant to KS3 targets as KS3 was "all skills based". I don't get it, that's all. How can he really be expected to be on the SAME level for science at the end of Yr 9 as he was in Y6 - and have the school still say he is making "acceptable" progress???

And this really matters, actually - because his school will only let him do triple science for GCSE if he has a level 7 in year 9. And frankly, science is so much his thing - even the teacher said he has a surprising depth of knowledge and understanding about science, but that his skills are poor (ie drawing graphs, etc was her example). And yet - Even if KS3 science IS skills based - GCSE is NOT - which makes the whole thing make even less sense....

So - what I am asking those who might know is - are KS2 and KS3 targets really so very unrelated? Or is the teacher making excuses for the school having low expectations of my son?

sparks Fri 08-Apr-11 10:54:51

Based on my dd's experience, they are different. My dd's levels in Y7 were lower than her Y6 SATs. As I understand it, the tests are quite different, they are not testing the same thing.

Have your ds's levels gone up from what they were in Y7? I'd say that was a more relevant question.

What does ds say about all this? Is he keen to do triple science?

Oakmaiden Fri 08-Apr-11 12:59:12

He wasn't given levels in year 7, because we had to move from England to Wales during the summer term. So I don't know. I do know that in his school in England he was in the second set for maths and top set for science (there were I think 6 or 7 sets in all). They don't set at this school, so I have no idea where he is compared to his peers....

He wants to go into science in some way when he leaves school, so will need all 3 sciences really. And yes - he does want to do all 3.

I don't get the point of having a continuum of levels throughout the key stages if they are not actually building continually on one another.

noblegiraffe Fri 08-Apr-11 13:48:08

Not a science teacher so don't know about their levels but it would seem strange to me as a maths teacher for a child to targeted at the same level in Y9 as they got in Y6. I mean, that's three years worth of teaching!

You could look at SATs papers online here for KS2 and KS3 to see the difference for yourself?

dippingbackin Fri 08-Apr-11 13:58:35


I am a Science teacher and to be honest if your son's target for the end of Year 9 is a level 5 he will really struggle with Triple Science. At our school the requirement is a level 6 to do Triple, however I never recommend it unless it is a 6A.

You might want to check the government guidelines as I was under the impression that if a child got a level 6 in Year 9 they had to be allowed to do Triple - I could be wrong as have never really looked into it but worth checking out if your son is really keen to do it.

If I was teaching your son in Year 8 and he had got a level 5 in Year 6, I would definitely expect him to be getting a high level 6 by the end of Year 9. However, one of the problems with KS2 SATs results is that the students are often highly coached by their school so the level may not be indicitive of their actual ability.

If your son is really desperate to do Triple I would recommend doing lots of practise SATs papers as the question style can be very tricky - in some cases harder than GCSE.

Kez100 Fri 08-Apr-11 16:30:17

My son got a 5a in KS2 science and has a target of 7c for KS3.

My daughter got a 4b in KS2 science actually managed a 5a at KS3 and wasn't offered triple as she didn't get a level 6.

I know exactly what you mean, science is my sons thing too and if he doesn't get the chance to do triple it does seem wrong. He has moved slowly in terms of progress in Science and I think that is to do with the fact a 5a ks2 child just wouldn't get a 5a at that age on a KS3 paper because they just haven't covered that work, so there is some catching up to do when you get to secondary to get from 5a KS2 to 5a KS3 but once that has happened I would hope my child would thrive in science (unless overly tutored at ks2).

squashpie Fri 08-Apr-11 17:11:44

I may be being thick but how does being 'highly coached' for SATS not give you the abilities to go on to do the more advanced stuff? If you're 'highly coached' you're given the information, the eductional basics, on which to build. How does that differ from ability? I'm not being facetious; I'm genuine puzzled.

Oakmaiden Fri 08-Apr-11 18:17:52

dipping - it definitely wan't because he was "highly coached" for ks2 - he was getting level 5' in optional sats back in year 4. He is just good at science. Or was, anyway....

roisin Fri 08-Apr-11 18:29:17

These levels sound very low to me.
At our school we would set a target of 6a for a student getting 4a in Maths at primary, likewise for English and Science. So if he got 5c for Science in KS2, we'd set 7c for Science in KS3.

bulby Fri 08-Apr-11 18:44:28

I'm a high school science teacher and it goes a bit like this. As a general rule pupils should progress 2 sublevels a year but a brighter child may achieve more and a weaker one less. Targets are set using something called family fisher trust data which takes into account a Childs previous progression, birth date ( a September child reaching level 5a has made less progress than an august one reaching the same level), attainment in other subjects, socioeconomic background etc as well as the 2 sub level progress idea. Primary schools coaching to the test is a massive issue and some kids do enter ks3 with hugely inflated levels meaning they seem to make very little progress when they start the more conceptual and applied ideas at ks3. That said your sons targets seem low so you might want to clarify them, also agree with the above poster who says that to not struggle at separate science a pupil needs to be getting a high level 6 rather than just scraping one.

dippingbackin Sat 09-Apr-11 14:23:55

Squashpie - Quite often at KS2, students are taught how to answer the questions without any real understanding of the Science behind it. In effect they learn the answers to the type of questions they could get. This obviously means when they come to study KS3 work they don't always have the understanding they should. This is not true of all primary schools I hasten to add.

Oakmaiden - I think your son's levels are too low given what you have said above. I would query them with his school and ask how the targets were decided. Did they use Fisher Family Trust etc...

inspireddance Mon 11-Apr-11 10:22:54

KS2 SATS levels are notoriously unreliable and as such, in my school, they are largely ignored and targets are based on Fisher Family Trust Data in combination with CATs scores and their first Year 7 assessment. It is quite possible that your son's SATS score was inflated and that's why his target is the same.

What is he actually performing at? This is the key thing. Ask your DSs teacher if you don't know. He should have been doing regular assessments and chances are he is working higher than his target level. Many schools are too lazy to readjust targets based on performance, e.g. a child could be consistently getting 6a but their target is 5a.

I wouldn't worry about GCSE choices yet, but when the time comes fight for your son to do triple science, although double science is fine for getting onto science A Levels. If your worried speak to his teacher and make sure he is aware of the science level criteria and help him to work towards the higher levels. Many children just answer the question as briefly as possible, so if you teach them that say Level 5 is explaining their answer and you use the word 'because' when explaining it can go a long way.

inspireddance Mon 11-Apr-11 19:14:51

Should say "and make sure your DS" before "is aware of the science level criteria and help him to work towards the higher levels."

mummytime Mon 11-Apr-11 19:40:43

I would be very worried. To be level 5 at the end of year 9 is on the low side, and level 4 is positively worrying.

hocuspontas Mon 11-Apr-11 19:58:16

This seems an incredibly low target for the end of year 9 based on his KS2 results. Are you sure it is not an end of year 8 target and the teacher said year 9 by mistake? This has happened to me which is why I mention it!

klm4765 Wed 13-Apr-11 08:36:39

Bulby says "Targets are set using something called family fisher trust data which takes into account a Childs previous progression, birth date ( a September child reaching level 5a has made less progress than an august one reaching the same level), attainment in other subjects, socioeconomic background etc as well as the 2 sub level progress idea."
What does 'socioeconomic background' mean? If it means parents' level of education/ income etc, how would the school know?
I'm interested because my DD also had a level 5 in her KS2 SATs, and was given a target of level 5a for end of KS3.

mummytime Wed 13-Apr-11 13:30:37

I have never come across FFT giving such low predictions. They must be comparing what is normal for underachieving schools, but I'm sure there are more learned people out there who can explain this.

roisin Thu 14-Apr-11 08:52:24

I agree that these targets are very low.
klm4765 - I cannot understand that at all.
At ds1's school pupils with L5 (core subjects) from primary have end of KS3 targets of L7 (core subjects). During yr7 these targets are upped to L8 if that level of challenge seems appropriate for them.

OP What is he like in PE?
ds1 (who is very able in many academic subjects) is utterly hopeless in PE, and I mean utterly hopeless. They gave him a target of L5 and told us this was the lowest target they are "allowed to set" for PE. He was below target for this level hmm, but has just (yr9) managed to scrape up to 'on target'.

seeker Fri 15-Apr-11 07:16:16

I may be speaking out of turn here, and I'm usually a pro school, anti pushy parent anti targets sort of woman - but this just seems outrageous.

It doesn't matter how "coached to the test" or not a child is, if he gets a level 5 in year 6 then a target of level 5 at the end of year 9 unless he's spent the past 2 years down the pub is completely unacceptable. And this "the levels are not the same" is such a cop out. They are, you know!

Particularly if he's interested in science - and "has a surprising depth of knowledge and understanding". If his skills are poor, then WTF has the school been doing over the past 2 years?

I would be on the Head's doorstep the day they go back. Well, I might start with the Head of Science - but I would want some answers.

What's the school's Value Added score like?

GeoPuzzles Fri 08-Jul-11 22:54:56

I've just had my dd K3 level results, ranging from 4s to 7s
with current, target and school target
as usual I have to quiz dd about what the levels mean and what order they come in ie 6a is higher than 6b, etc,, (have I got that right)
then the target I find is for the end of year 9, dd is in year 7 now
whether the school target is for current year or end of year 9 I dont know
am still flummoxed about whether dd is doing ok, well, very well, average, below average, above average
does dd need some help or not
do they have this system abroad or do they speak in plain English?
PS thanks for the snippet about advancing 2 sublevels a year news to me

rosar Fri 08-Jul-11 23:07:43

He loves science, displays ability and would like to sit the three GCSEs in three years' time. You could spend 1-2 hours every weekend on the three subjects in rotation with him, and enter him as a private candidate for the iGCSEs. If the school can't deliver, it may be more enjoyable and effective to take responsibility for it yourself.

magentadreamer Sat 09-Jul-11 11:04:35

If KS2 SATS results aren't relevant to KS3 targets then what does the school use to set targets would be one question I would be asking. Plus if he shows a suprising depth and understanding in Science what are the school doing to help him transfer this understanding to cold hard levels? What level is he currently working at in Science and in his other subjects?

circular Sun 10-Jul-11 20:37:10

rosar - if you enter a private candidate for IGCSE, how can you be sure it will not clash with other subjects being sat that year at school?

rosar Sun 10-Jul-11 22:42:17

circular - clashes are possible of course, but known well in advance. Science iGCSEs are usually scheduled for October and January as well as June exams. That's one obvious way to avoid clashes. Secondly, if an external centre can be found that offers both, they can be sat in sequence, as at any school. Or thirdly, choose the more important exam. Science iGCSEs are generally seen to be as least as good as GCSEs.

BobbyWaring Sun 10-Jul-11 22:47:27

Education staff work hard to meet the needs of every child and to ensure all their pupils receive an excellent education. The rising levels of attainment are a testimony to their dedication and commitment. But the narrow focus on attainment figures ignores the fact that schools only account for around 15 per cent of the variation in educational outcomes.
Low pupil attainment is more likely to reflect poverty and disadvantage rather than a pupil's ability or a school's performance. It is high time education policy-makers gave more attention to the impact of deprivation on education. This would benefit the 900,000 poor children and young people in rural areas who have been ignored by the government's anti-poverty initiatives, help meet the target to end child poverty by 2020 and raise educational achievement.

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