What are the '7 aspects of engagement'? New statutory assessment on the horizon

Successful appeal against a refusal to assess results in fully funded package of support

Pupils working below the standard of the national curriculum assessments are currently assessed using P scales 1 to 4. On 22 November 2018 the Department for Education (DfE) announced its plans to replace existing P scales 1 to 4 with a new statutory assessment based on the ‘7 aspects of engagement’. This was originally developed through a DfE funded project led by Professor Barry Carpenter in 2011. The ‘7 aspects of engagement’ is to be rolled out across the country from 2020.

What will the new assessment involve?

The following seven interrelated indicators will be used to inform assessment of pupils with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties and to provide evidence of progress:

  • Responsiveness
  • Curiosity
  • Discovery
  • Anticipation
  • Persistence
  • Initiation
  • Investigation

Why change the current system?

The aim is to enable primary schools to better assess pupils with the most complex needs; it will enable every kind of progress made by these pupils to be identified and will allow a more flexible and personalised assessment. This addresses a key issue with P scales, that they focus on linear progress, which is not always how children with the most complex needs progress.

How was the decision reached?

An in-depth review, led by Diane Rochford, concluded that P scales did not best serve these pupils and recommended an assessment approach that instead focuses on engagement. This was backed by the findings of a pilot that the DfE ran earlier this year.

How will the changes be implemented?

An expert group, led by Diane Rochford, will now refine the approach based on the findings of the pilot, ready for it to be introduced in all state-funded schools which have pupils not in subject-specific study from 2020.

Between now and 2010, a detailed guidance and training package will be developed and provided for schools, Local Authorities, Ofsted and parents.

It is expected that schools will assess pupils using the ‘7 aspects of engagement’ prior to Annual Reviews to inform progress and the content of Section B of the Education, Health and Care Plan. 

If you have any questions about how this may impact upon your child then please get in touch with our Special Educational Needs team at senexpertsolicitors@boyesturner.com.

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James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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