What are P scales?


Children talking about a book with a teacher

The National Curriculum starts at level 1 and all children working below level 1 are deemed to be at level W – working towards level 1. For struggling children, their teachers and parents, it can be very dispiriting to make good progress over a year but still be working at level W. So the P scales were invented and run from P1 to P8.

P8 describes a child who is working just below level 1C. There are P scales for every National Curriculum subject.

P scales are used in both special schools and mainstream schools. Children who are working at P1 to P3 are likely to be in special schools because these are intended to describe children with severe and complex special needs.

Children under the age of about seven who are working between P4 and P5 are likely to be in mainstream schools and most primary schools will have pupils working between P6 and P8.

Why are P scales used?

P scales are used as a measure of progress for children aged six onwards. If your child is making progress through the P scales, you can be confident they are learning. The steps between P scales appear to be quite small and they describe the acquisition of the most significant early concepts that children need to progress into the National Curriculum levels.

Using the P scales, you can see whether a child is making steady progress, whether one subject is better than another and where help is most urgently needed.

What do P scales mean?

If you have a child working in Year 1 or above whose attainment is described on the P scales, it is likely that your child is experiencing difficulties. Your school has probably been in touch with you and talked to you about the additional support your child is receiving, but if you are still worried make an appointment to talk to the schools Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) who will be able to keep you better informed.

Your child should be working with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that you can expect to see and sign every term. The IEP will outline your child's key priorities and explain what the school is putting in place to support them. 


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Last updated: about 3 years ago