Teacher assessment: using P scales to report on pupils with SEN

This detailed guidance was withdrawn on 16 May 2016

Information for teachers about P scales and how to use them when reporting teacher assessment. This will be updated for the 2015 to 2016 assessment cycle.

When to use performance scales

Using performance scales (P scales) is statutory when reporting attainment for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) who are working below level 1 of the national curriculum.

P scales are not required for pupils whose subject level overall is level 1 or above, even if one or more of the components is below level 1.

Performance descriptions

The performance descriptions for P1i–P3ii are the same across English, mathematics and science. The descriptions show the range of overall performance that a pupil at this level might demonstrate.

If a pupil is at P1i–P3ii level in English, then reading, writing, speaking or listening levels would not normally be appropriate. If a pupil is at a level higher than P3ii in English, then separate levels (P4–P8) can be given in reading, writing, speaking or listening and an overall English level is not expected.

This also applies to mathematics, number, using and applying mathematics, and shape, space and measures. For science, a single level from P1i–P8 should be given.

Exceptional circumstances

There may be exceptional circumstances where a pupil is judged to be at P1i–P3ii in English and / or mathematics but at P4–P8 in a particular element of the subject. The school management information system should allow these different levels to be recorded and will transfer all levels entered for each pupil.

Subject Reportable level
English P1i, P1ii, P2i, P2ii, P3i, P3ii
Reading, writing, speaking listening P4, P5, P6, P7, P8
Mathematics P1i, P1ii, P2i, P2ii, P3i, P3ii
Number, using and applying mathematics, shape, space and measures P4, P5, P6, P7, P8
Science P1i, P1ii, P2i, P2ii, P3i, P3ii, P4, P5, P6, P7, P8

When to apply P scales

If a pupil is assessed as being between P4–P8 for English or mathematics, P scales should be reported for the individual attainment targets. For example, if a pupil is working at P4 or above in English, individual P scales should be reported for speaking and listening, reading, and writing, not an overall English P scale.

Level What should be reported
P4 or above Individual P scales not an overall P scale
Below P4 (P1i–P3ii) Only an overall subject P scale - the individual attainment targets should remain blank

Note: descriptions for P1i–P3ii are not subject specific so cannot be applied to individual attainment targets.

For science, only 1 level is required from P1i–P8.

If a pupil does not have a special educational need, eg if they have English as an additional language, ‘NOTSEN’ should be reported in place of the P scales for each individual attainment target, where applicable.

Early years foundation stage

If a pupil has SEN and their early years foundation stage (EYFS) attainment against the EYFS profile has not been demonstrated at the end of this stage, the school may wish to continue with an early years curriculum to support the pupil’s learning and development. In this case, the EYFS profile, rather than P scales, should be used for assessment as it may be suitable in year 1 for a small number of pupils.

If schools choose to assess pupils using P scales towards the end of year 1, teachers should base such judgements on a review of evidence gathered from everyday teaching and learning. Professional judgement should be used to decide which P scale description best fits a pupil’s performance.

Mixed P scales

Overall and component P scales

As P1i–P3ii are not subject specific, generally a pupil working at this level will be doing so across a whole subject or subjects. However, there may be exceptional circumstances where a pupil is working at P4 or above in an individual attainment target but P3ii or less for everything else.

In these cases you are able to submit a combination of overall and attainment target P scales into the NCA tools website.

Mixture of P scales and national curriculum levels

Where a pupil is working below level 1 for a subject overall but at level 1 (or above) for an attainment target, a P scale will not be required for that attainment target. You should submit P scales for appropriate attainment targets, but leave blank where it is not appropriate.

For example, if a pupil’s English levels are as follows then the overall subject level is W:

  • Subject: W
  • Reading: W
  • Writing: W
  • Speaking and listening: 1

P scales will be required and should be submitted for the attainment targets with a corresponding W component:

  • Reading: P8
  • Writing: P8
  • Speaking: Leave blank, P scale not appropriate
  • Listening: Leave blank, P scale not appropriate

Help and support

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.