Press release

Verdict on APP in KS3 Science generally positive despite fears about increased workload

26 May 2010

Views about the introduction of Assessing Pupils’ Progress (APP) in KS3 Science are mixed, according to NFER’s new survey of LA secondary science consultants. Although they believe that APP is making a positive contribution to teaching and learning, they expressed concerns about its manageability.

Key findings

Assessment: APP is supporting the re-professionalisation of teachers and increasing their confidence, by supporting their classroom assessment in a structured way and putting trust in their abilities. It also supports teaching and learning by promoting Assessment for Learning (AfL) in the classroom, giving pupils feedback and information about the next steps in their learning.

However, the consultants expressed concerns about APP becoming a ‘bolt-on’ assessment rather than embedded within current practices. Potential reasons were teachers having a lack of understanding of APP and AfL approaches and problems with APP criteria including too many complicated or vague statements.

Science: The LA consultants felt that APP positively supports the development of How Science Works at KS3 and that teachers now have greater creativity in the classroom. This has the potential to have a positive impact on pupils, as it should encourage greater engagement and motivation.

Manageability is the main concern highlighted by the consultants. Support from Senior Leadership Teams is vital; if they are ‘on board’ with the principles of APP they will make available sufficient time to train teachers and for teachers to develop resources. In schools where this is not the case the introduction of APP may be seen as an increase in teacher workload.

Concerns were raised about the potential volume of information on pupils’ progress which needs  to be recorded, and which may feel overwhelming and unmanageable.


NFER’s Naomi Rowe said: “As APP in KS3 Science is non-statutory, It’s important to continue to actively promote it, especially as the abolition of KS2 and KS3 science National Curriculum tests may result in science having a lower priority in schools overall.“


Assessing Pupil’s Progress (APP) in Key Stage 3 Science is available at /publications/ASK02/.

For more information contact Gail Goodwin, NFER Media and Communications Manager, on 01753 637159,

Notes to Editors

The aim of this research project is to look at the uptake and implementation of APP in KS3 science following its introduction in January 2009. The findings will provide science specialists with an overall picture of the current assessment context and identify areas where further support is needed.

The project had three components:

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)

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