Pioneering new approach to assessing pupils with complex disabilities to be introduced in schools

Pupils with multiple and complex needs will be assessed using a new ‘aspects of engagement’ approach.

One of the findings of the Rochford Review, published in October 2016 was that P-scales were no longer fit for purpose. The Review recommended that the statutory obligation to report against them should be removed and replaced with pre-key stage standards to assess those pupils engaged in subject specific learning but who working below the level of the end of key stage tests.

Those pupils not engaged in subject specific learning, and who would have been assessed using P-scales 1 to 4, should instead be assessed using the ‘7 aspects of engagement’ or engagement scales. The 7 Aspects of Engagement approach was originally developed through a DfE funded project led by Professor Barry Carpenter in 2011.

A pilot study, the results of which were published this month, was conducted in order to identify the suitability of this approach for summative assessment.

Running from January to July 2018, the study found that ‘most pilot schools were enthusiastic about using the approach for formative assessment’ but there was apprehension ‘about the use of the approach as a means of statutory summative assessment at the end of key stages 1 and 2.’

Another finding of the pilot is that support would be needed to help ensure effective implementation. To this end Diane Rochford will lead a group to refine the approach to using the engagement scales and a guidance and training package will be developed to support their use and implementation.

Use of the engagement scales with those pupils working on a non-subject specific curriculum will be introduced in all state-funded schools from 2020.

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