LSIP Updates: External Writing Moderation at Key Stage 2

Published: 20 February 2024
The Learn Sheffield Improvement Partner team share an update on KS2 external writing moderation. This academic year, the moderation window is from Monday 3rd June to Thursday 27th June. The deadline for submitting KS2 teacher assessment data on the Primary Assessment Gateway (PAG) is Friday 28th June.

This academic year, the Key Stage 2 moderation window is from Monday 3rd June to Thursday 27th June. The deadline for submitting Key Stage 2 teacher assessment data on the Primary Assessment Gateway (PAG) is Friday 28th June.

External writing moderation is statutory. Learn Sheffield continues to carry this out on behalf of the Local Authority and is required to externally moderate 25% of maintained schools and 25% of academies. Schools and academies are moderated once every four years (excluding 2020 and 2021) and this year, Headteachers will be informed on or after Friday 17th May if their schools are part of the 2023/24 cycle.

Academies must choose which Local Authority is responsible for the external moderation of their Key Stage 2 teacher assessment and inform STA on the PAG if they intend to use a non-geographical Local Authority.

The moderation visit: A sample of 15% of pupils from across a school’s Y6 cohort or, in the case of a single class, a minimum of five pupils’ writing will be moderated. All pupils selected should be working beyond pre-key stage.

External moderation is a collaborative process between the Learn Sheffield moderator and the school. It offers the opportunity to discuss judgements on pupils’ performance against the requirements of the teacher assessment framework (TAF). The TAF has three standards:

  • working towards the expected standard (WTS)
  • working at the expected standard (EXS)
  • working at greater depth within the expected standard (GDS)

‘Pupil can’ statements are performance indicators. They give a snapshot of a pupil’s attainment at the end of the key stage based on writing that has been produced independently. Each statement describes what a pupil working at that standard should be able to do. Evidence should come from day-to-day work in the classroom and can be drawn from a variety of sources. The form of evidence supporting a teacher’s judgement is entirely up to the teacher, providing it meets the requirements of the framework.


Qualifiers are used in some statements to indicate the extent to which pupils demonstrate the required knowledge or skill. Where qualifiers are used, they have consistent meaning:

  • ‘most’ indicates that the statement is generally met, with only occasional errors
  • ‘many’ indicates that the statement is met frequently, but not yet consistently
  • ‘some’ indicates that the knowledge or skill is starting to be acquired and is demonstrated correctly on occasion but is not yet consistent or frequent

Particular weakness: A teacher must assess a pupil securely against all the ‘pupil can’ statements within the standard at which they are judged to be working at. However, teachers can use their discretion to ensure that a ‘particular weakness’ does not prevent an accurate judgement of a pupil’s overall attainment. A ‘particular weakness’ can relate to a part or the whole of a statement (or statements). Teachers must be able to justify their decisions with evidence during moderation.

Funding: Each Local Authority receives direct funding from the DfE for moderating maintained schools. Academies receive direct funding from the DfE for KS2 statutory external moderation and are subsequently charged for this activity.

Moderators: Learn Sheffield will contact each school being moderated in the 2023/24 cycle and say who will be attending. STA would expect only one moderator per visit. However, if the school has a large cohort, or the moderator is being quality assured, there may be additional moderators conducting the visit. The school must be made aware of this in advance. All external moderators must be approved by the STA. They are experienced Y6 teachers who have attended all STA training for 2024, demonstrated their ability to systematically review evidence of pupils’ writing in training scenarios and have successfully passed the STA standardisation exercise. 

Local Agreement: In Sheffield, external moderation is usually carried out by two moderators; a lead moderator along with a ‘shadow’ or a moderator to quality assure. As this arrangement falls outside statutory requirements, Learn Sheffield will ask schools to sign a local agreement in order for this to take place. Schools that do not want to enter into a local agreement can instead ask Learn Sheffield to revert to statutory moderation arrangements.

If you have any queries about external moderation, please contact Diane Stokes:

Return to Articles