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Information about 'P' levels

An overview of the P Levels

The P levels are a set of descriptions for recording achievement of pupils with special needs. The “P” stands for Performance and it has been statutory to send P level data to Local Authorities and the DFE since 2007.

The P levels are used for pupils aged between 5 and 16 years. At Old Park School we do not, therefore, use P levels to assess pupils in Early Years or in Post 16.

The P level descriptors have been written for both Core Subjects and Foundation Subjects. The early P levels, P1-3, are often described as “Generic” because they are the same for all subjects. P levels 1, 2 and 3 are further sub-divided in the following way:
P1i P1ii
P2i P2ii
P3i P3ii

Each sub-level has its own descriptor.

The subjects and their Strands appear from P4 onwards. P level Subject descriptors exist for the levels between P4 and P8.


At Old Park School we have researched and trialled a break-down of skills beyond P8 and we have named them the “Old Park Scales”. Our range of assessments therefore extends from P8 to Old Park Scales 9 to 14.

Core Subjects
English: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening
Maths: Number, Using and Applying, Shape Space and Measure
Foundation Subjects
Art, Computing, Design & Technology, Geography, History, Music, PE, PSHE, RE, MFL

When the P levels were first written the National Curriculum had levels, starting at Level 1. The P levels described achievement below Level 1. In 2014 the New National Curriculum began and levels were removed, with the exception of the P levels. The P level descriptors were re-issued in 2014.


If you would like more specific information about P levels, please visit the Gov.uk website:

In October 2016 the Rochford Review was published. It makes 10 recommendations and the first of these is the removal of P levels. The Government will be consulting on the recommendations of the the Rochford review in early 2017. If you would like more information, please visit the Gov.uk website:

The removal of P levels, following the Rochford Review recommendation, will signify that pupils who are currently achieving within the P1-4 range, “not subject-specific”, will be assessed against 7 aspects of cognition and learning. Pupils achieving in the range P5-P8 will be assessed against new descriptors for “entry” to the expected standard in the respective Core Subject or Strand. Pupils achieving above the current P8 level will be assessed against new descriptors for the “emerging” standard. This is still in the review stage and has not yet been confirmed by the DFE. In the meantime the P levels continue to be statutory for pupils 5-16 years old.

J. Wiggin Deputy Head Teacher Old Park School February 2017