How do I know if my child is developing as they should be at school?

Jan 2012
Ideally, parents should receive regular feedback on their child's performance in the classroom.

As primary schools strive to climb up the league tables, they are increasingly keen to provide regular updates on the progress of their pupils to parents in order to encourage them to become partners in the learning process.

Broadly speaking, children are expected to reach a minimum of level four at the end of Year 6 in reading, writing and mathematics and to move up two sub-levels each year from Year 1 through to 6.

Sub-levels move from c to a, so a child who was at level 3b in mathematics at the end of Year 4 should ideally be at 4c by the end of Year 5.

Naturally, these expectations may alter according to a child's ability. If a child has special educational needs, for example, they may be working on pre-level 1 scales called P scales which progress from P1 to P7. Alternatively, if a child is new to English they may require a more tailored assessment.

The series of numbers and letters involved in tracking your child's development may seem overwhelming to parents, but detailed discussions at parent evenings or arranging additional parent conferences with your child's teacher should serve to allay these fears.

In a survey conducted by Becta, the Government's education technology agency, only 15% of parents surveyed were told about their child's progress at school at least once a month. Ideally, parents should receive more regular feedback on their child's performance in the classroom.

The website offers the following key points to consider when parents are questioning schools about progress:
  • How their child is doing / what he or she is learning (diagnostic information, not just final scores)
  • What's happening in class (major projects, skills covered)
  • What's happening in school (events, parent workshops)
  • What specific steps parents can take to help their child excel and/or help in the classroom or school
In the Early Years Foundation stage, the picture is different and a child's progress is measured in scale points across several areas of learning, with the highest scale point being 9 in a few of these areas.

Academic progress is obviously a critical measure in a child's development, but parents should also remember to include emotional and social intelligence in developing a coherent picture of their child's progress.