The use of performance scales (P scales) is statutory when reporting attainment for pupils with special educational needs who are working below level 1 of the National Curriculum.

They are used at the end of Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 for reporting teacher assessment in English, mathematics and science to the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). P scales are also used for reporting teacher assessment to parents in other National Curriculum subjects.

P scales must only be used when assessing and reporting on pupils with special educational needs who are performing below level 1 of the National Curriculum. Where a pupil is performing below level 1 but does not have special educational need, s/he needs to be recorded as ‘NOTSEN’. The flowchart which can be downloaded from the Downloads section of this page illustrates when P scales should be used.

Performance descriptions

The performance descriptions for P1–P3 are the same across English, mathematics and science. The descriptions show the range of overall performance that pupils at this level might demonstrate.

If a pupil is at P1i–P3ii level in English, then reading, writing, speaking or listening levels would not normally be appropriate. If a pupil is at a level higher than P3ii in English, then separate levels (P4–P8) can be given in reading, writing, speaking or listening and an overall English level is not expected.

This also applies to mathematics, number, using and applying mathematics, and shape, space and measures. For science, a single level from P1–P8 should be given. There may be exceptional circumstances where a pupil is judged to be at P1i–P3ii in English and/or mathematics but at P4–P8 in a particular element of the subject. The school management information system should allow these different levels to be recorded and will transfer all levels entered for each pupil.

 Subject Reportable level
 English  P1i, P1ii, P2i, P2ii, P3i, P3ii




 P4, P5, P6, P6, P7, P8

P1i, P1ii, P2i, P2ii, P3i, P3ii


using and applying mathematics

shape, space and measures

P4, P5, P6, P6, P7, P8
Science P1i, P1ii, P2i, P2ii, P3i, P3ii, P4, P5, P6, P6, P7, P8


Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

If a child has special educational needs and their EYFS attainment against the EYFS profile has not been demonstrated at the end of this stage, the school may wish to continue with an early years curriculum to support the child’s learning and development. In this case, the EYFS profile, rather than P scales, should be used for assessment as it may be suitable in Year 1 for a small number of children.

If schools choose to assess children using P scales towards the end of Year 1, teachers should base such judgements on a review of evidence gathered from everyday teaching and learning. Professional judgement should be used to decide which P scale description best fits a child’s performance.


Contact details

National curriculum assessments helpline
Telephone: 0300 303 3013