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Key Stages and Attainment Levels Explained

In the UK, schools follow a framework of subjects laid down by law called the
National Curriculum
which all state schools must adhere to.

Children's knowledge, skills and understanding of these subjects is measured and graded as Attainment Levels which range from 1 to 5 at primary school. Each level is split into sub levels labelled a, b, and c ('a' being the highest). At age 5, children are expected to be at Level 1 and can expect to move up through the levels at approximately 1 level for every 2 years.

They are expected to achieve at least Level 2 by the end of Year 2
and at least Level 4 by the end of Year 6.

Three stages are covered at primary schools,
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.


Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The Foundation Stage (EYFS) is split into two year groups, the Preschool or Nursery year for ages 3 to 4 and the Reception year for ages 4 to 5. At the end of the Reception Year schools are required to submit a EYFS Profile for each child. This is a method of summarising each child’s development and learning at the end of the EYFS and is based on observations and assessments in all six areas of learning.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Language and literacy
Mathematical Development
Knowledge and Understanding of the world
Physical Development
Creative development



Key Stage 1 (KS1)

Key Stage 1 (KS1) is also split into two year groups, Year 1 for ages 5 to 6 and Year 2 for ages 6 to 7. The curriculum is divided into three core subjects and nine foundation subjects.



Design and Technology
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
Art and Design
Physical Education
Religious Education
Modern Foreign Language (MFL)

Children are assessed by the teacher at the end of KS1 (Year 2) and
are expected to be working to at least Level 2 in English, Maths and Science .


Key Stage 2 (KS2)

Key Stage 2 (KS2) covers four year groups,

Year 3 for ages 7 to 8   
Year 4 for ages 8 to 9   
  Year 5 for ages 9 to 10   
 Year 6 for ages 10 to 11

The curriculum is divided into three core subjects and nine foundation subjects in much the same way as KS1 (see table above).

Children are assessed by National Tests called SAT's (normally taken in mid May) and by the teacher at the end of KS2 (Year 6) and are expected to be working to at least
Level 4 in English, Maths and Science.

However, children are expected to make two whole levels between KS1 and KS2, so if your child achieved Level 3 at the end of KS1, they will be expected to achieve Level 5 by the end of KS2.

To find out more about the subjects taught visit the
Primary Curriculum at the Department of Education.


Attainment Levels / Point Score

Some schools use a system of point scores to indicate the level of attainment.

The table to the left shows how the levels relate to points.


CAT4 / 12 Plus papers