Rochford Review recommendations: appeal to schools to trial new assessments for pupils below the standard of national curriculum tests

Written by Department for EducationDate 12 Oct 2017

The government’s response to the Rochford Review consultation was published on 14 September. It set out plans for two important changes for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests:

  • For pupils engaged in subject-specific learning, it accepts the Review’s recommendation that the interim pre-key stage standards are made permanent and extended to cover all of these pupils. To give schools adequate time to prepare for these changes, this will take effect from the 2018/19 academic year onwards, with the full suite of pre-key stage standards being published in the 2017/18 spring term. 
  • For pupils not yet engaged in subject-specific learning, a pilot of the Review’s recommended approach to assessing these pupils using the 7 areas of engagement for cognition and learning will be run in the 2017/18 academic year, before taking any final decisions on whether to implement this approach on a statutory basis.

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) will be working with schools to run two projects to prepare for these changes:

  1. Pre-key stage standard review - The pre-key stage standards will be reviewed, working with teachers and other educational experts, to ensure that they are fit for purpose. This review will follow a thorough process, including: an evaluation by practising teachers, head teachers and local authority representatives; an expert review to act on feedback; and trialling of the final versions. We plan to publish the full suite of pre-key stage standards in spring 2018, for first use by schools in the 2018/19 academic year. Schools are needed to take part in:
    • Trialling in spring term 2018
    • An evaluation in autumn term 2017
  2. Pilot of the 7 areas of engagement for cognition and learning - The pilot will run this academic year, ending in summer 2018, involving approximately 50 schools assessing their pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning against the 7 areas of engagement for cognition and learning. This work will be school-led, with flexibility to develop bespoke approaches based on the 7 areas of engagement that are tailored to the needs of their cohort. However, participating schools will receive support and guidance, including through 8 regional teaching school hubs, to implement their approach and share practice with others. An external research body will be conducting an evaluation of the pilot before any final decisions on whether to implement this approach are made.  

Schools are needed to take part in the pilot, which will run from approximately October half term until the end of the summer term. The project will involve using the 7 areas of engagement throughout, and include initial set-up meetings, a mid-point feedback session in the spring term, and an end-point feedback session in the summer term.

Schools wanting to get involved

If a school would like to volunteer to take part in either of these pilots, or request further information, please contact: Please provide the following information:

  • The name of your school
  • A named contact in your school
  • An approximate number of your pupils that are working below the standard of national curriculum tests, and any relevant information about their school demographics.

For any related events run by the STA, attendees will be reimbursed standard class travel expenses in full and overnight accommodation costs, and teachers’ supply cover will also be paid.

Changes to improve access to apprenticeships for people with a learning difficulty and / or disability

We are pleased to announce that we have made changes to the regular minimum English and maths requirements needed to complete an apprenticeship for people with a learning difficulty or disability who have, or previously had, an Education, Health and Care plan, a Statement of Special Educational Needs or a Learning Difficulty Assessment.  These changes will allow more people to access apprenticeships. A short guidance document explaining the changes is attached below. 

These changes have been made as part of our work to implement the recommendations of the 2016 taskforce led by Paul Maynard to improve access to apprenticeships for people with a learning difficulty and / or disability. Included below is an update on the progress implementing these recommendations (please see attachment: Maynard Taskforce Update). 

Please do share details of the changes we have made to the English and maths requirements across your network so that as many people as possible can benefit (please see attachment English and Maths apprenticeship changes Sept 2017).   

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 0800 015 0400. If you are a training provider, you should contact the Business Operations Service Centre on

School Admissions Briefing

The Council for Disabled Children has published a School Admissions Briefing, with information intended to help parents of disabled children and young people, parents of children and young people with SEN and professionals advising parents including those in Information, Advice and Support Services.

The briefing provides a summary of schools admission arrangements and focuses on issues that are particularly relevant to the admission of disabled children and children with SEN. You can find a link to the briefing below.

SENCO Forum e-discussion group

We are asking local authorities to bring the National SENCO Forum to the attention of schools, settings and SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators). The Forum, now in its twenty first year of operation, provides an opportunity for SENCOs and other SEN professionals to discuss issues and share information and practical advice. The Forum offers independent, solution-based support in a collaborative and mutual way to both new to role and 
experienced SENCOs. Advice provided is based on the direct experience of SEN professionals, relevant research evidence and national/local policy guidance. 

More information about the Forum and joining instructions can be found at: 
Questions about using the Forum to disseminate information about SEN focused research, policy and practice can be addressed to the SENCo Forum Advisory Group Chair, Christopher Robertson at:

Please find attached information regarding the Education and Training Foundation: Improving Outcomes for learners with SEND workshop opportunities and the NHS England Building Blocks for Change: Personalisation and Transforming Care workshop opportunities.