A complete set of assessment ladders for all subjects in the new curriculum from Years 1 – 9, including pre-levels and an additional set of ladders for thinking and learning skills.

What now?

Levels have gone and the both government and Ofsted are saying clearly that internal assessment is a matter for the school.  In one sense, this offers freedom and opportunity to schools, but time is short and energies are focused on teaching the new curriculum.

Strangely, it is the secondary sector that has reacted most strongly to the withdrawal of levels.  They now expect to receive assessments on several different scales from their feeder schools, so the loss of an agree system with agreed ‘going rates’ has been a blow. Parents too, may soon notice that a Chelmsford Grade 3 is not the same thing as a Chichester Level 3 or a Chelsea Primary 3 score.

One of the strengths of the old system was that ongoing assessments were anchored to the national test assessment in a single system so that progress towards expectations could be monitored. How, then, do we keep an eye on pupil progress?

About Climbing Frames

Climbing Frames offers a complete set of assessment frames and record sheets for National Curriculum subjects in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3, including reports for parents.  The frames are ladders against which progress made be measured in each subject, and relate directly to the new 2014 curriculum.  They cover both core and foundation subjects.

The Climbing Frames are designed to work in a familiar way, like APP, and allow teachers to track attainment and progress over time. Their main purpose is to identify who is on, below or off trajectory so that their needs can be met more swiftly and more accurately.

For senior leaders, the Climbing Frames will enable the compilation of summative data about pupils, classes, cohorts and subjects, including attractive colour-coded reports to send home. These colour-coded reports were first developed for parents in America and have proven popular because of their at-a-glance snapshot.

Consistency and flexibility

Crucially, this system offers consistency of approach and detail across the curriculum, extending beyond English and mathematics to embrace the other subjects.

Unlike other frameworks, this one has learnt from past experience to strip back the curriculum to priority objectives which are real markers of progress.  This makes the job of assessment a manageable one.

The approach taken to tracking in this pack combines the best of the outgoing system of levels with the demands of annual content objectives in the new curriculum. Based on three steps of progress a year, it is more sensitive to progress than the previous system. Progress may be monitored each half-term if you wish.

In the new year, the scheme will be available as an app, to further reduce the  workload for teachers and make summative data very easy indeed. Red alerts pop up automatically where children fall significantly behind or where progress stalls.

Pre-levels built in

The government took a perplexing decision to ignore P-levels during their reforms, though this was one part of the assessment system that everyone agreed needed an overhaul.  Climbing Frames has built in a fresh, aligned, simplified set of five pre-levels to every assessment frame.

The pre-levels cover everyone from those with profound learning difficulties to those who are approaching the first stage of NC objectives. Unlike P-levels, they are built around 5 stages of development rather than numbers: experiential, responsive, interactive, then a stage of engagement followed by a stage of early insight in which the pupil edges into abstract and symbolic learning.

Thinking and learning skills

In addition to the subject frames with their full range of ability, the package also includes assessment frames for thinking and learning skills.  Like the subjects, they are arranged to over all nine years of the NC plus the 5 pre-levels described above, and they are tied to the priorities of the new curriculum.  The frames address:

  1. Seeking and keeping ideas
  2. Thinking critically
  3. Working with others
  4. Using reflection and feedback loops
  5. Solving problems
  6. Flexing the imagination
  7. Building models and theories
  8. Thinking for the future

Each of these will be referenced to NC objectives for each year to show where the principal opportunities lie for teaching and monitoring them. Like the subject frames, these assessments can be collated to give senior managers a profile of learning behaviour in the school and an agenda for improvement.

In the new year, the scheme will provide links from the thinking and learning objectives to relevance guidance in their own bank of articles, publications and training. This resource will enable schools to strengthen teaching where assessments show that learning is under-developed.

Why Climbing Frames?

There are a number of assessment grids in circulation.  The subject associations, for example, have constructed detailed and well-informed grids for their own subjects.  Many enterprising schools – or groups of schools – have developed their own criteria, and this experience will made them more expert and more astute in making assessments.

Climbing Frames support the NAHT’s guidance on sound assessment.  They aim to add value by offering manageability, coverage of the whole National Curriculum, pre-levels and a set of thinking and learning frames to underpin the whole.


£2.00 + VAT per pupil on the school’s roll.

There is a minimum purchase of £250 + VAT (which is the equivalent of 125 pupils)

Schools can order online at:
or by calling our customer services team on 0121 224 7599