Fairfields School is the lead school for the SCENWL region to support the implementation of The Engagement Model.

What is The Engagement Model? 

The Engagement Model is an assessment system that supports schools in evaluating the appropriateness of the curriculum provided for pupils who are non-subject specific learners, not yet meeting all of Pre Key Stage Standard 1. Using the 5 areas of engagement: initiation, persistence, exploration, anticipation and realisation teachers are able to observe and assess the level of engagement for individual pupils. The model fits alongside and supports teachers to evaluate progress against Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) outcomes. 

Progress in each of the areas will not be scored, pupils will not be measured on how well they exceed in engagement. The system ensures the curriculum in place for this unique group of learners is suitable and allows for engagement and progression. Implementation in school is focused on awareness of the 5 areas of engagement, careful and frequent observation alongside these and layered introduction ensuring staff understanding and development of LSAs.

Teachers are not teaching engagement, but using pupil engagement to assess their progress against their learning outcomes from the EHCP and/or the school's curriculum.

The Engagement Model does not replace schools existing planning and assessment systems and schools will have the autonomy over how it will be implemented.

Benefits of The Engagement Model

  • An effective way for practitioners to monitor both progress and interest levels of pupils working below Pre Key Stage Standards in a manageable and meaningful way.
  • Practitioners have dedicated time to work with and observe learners as it re-emphasises the importance of observation.
  • A tool to monitor the engagement of learners whose behaviour may act as a barrier to learning; gaining a deeper understanding of how they learn, what motivates them and how to adapt practice accordingly.
  • Allows flexibility in frequency of observations and how best to use information gathered to monitor progress, encouraging a narrative form of assessment.
  • Celebrates the individuality of the child, their interests and learning potential and keeps these fundamentals at its heart.
  • An essential tool for assessing the most profound and complex children.

Why is it important? 

We need to demonstrate progress for pupils working below the Pre Key Stage standards; this progress will look very different for each pupil. The Engagement Model allows you to look at each pupil’s engagement in different activities or tasks, and make adaptations to the curriculum or resources to further raise their engagement. Engagement is a pre-requisite to cognition and learning. Cognition and learning results in progress.

Who is it for? 

Pupils who are not yet meeting Pre Key Stage Standard 1 in all areas (writing, reading and maths) and all pupils who were previously assessed at P Scale 1 – 4. It is a statuory requirement to use the model in KS1&2, and recommended for all pupils age 3-25 if appropriate.

The DfE will be collecting information of the pupils who are using the Engagement Model in Year 2 & Year 6.

When will it happen? 

The removal of P Scales and the full introduction of The Engagement Model will be from September 2020.


In light of the impact of Covid19, we recognise that some schools may not be prepared to fully implement the engagement model from the 2020/21 academic year. As a result, STA confirmed the 2020/21 academic year will be a transitionary year for the assessment of pupils working below the standard of national curriculum assessments and not engaged in subject-specific study.

The transitionary year means that schools with eligible pupils who are ready to implement the engagement model guidance from September 2020 can do so, and schools that need more time to implement this change will continue to have the option to assess against P scales 1 to 4 for one final year. There will be a flexible approach for the submission of teacher assessment outcomes at the end of key stages 1 and 2. The use of the engagement model will be statutory from September 2021. 

STA has published guidance on the transitionary year for the 2020/21 academic year.

Guidance updates:

  • 2020-21 is a transition year allowing time for schools to prepare and engage in training opportunities on The Engagement Model
  • 2020-21 End of year assessment can be completed as PLevels or Engagement. We are strongly recommending that schools report back on Engagement at the end of the year.
  • 2021-22 The Engagement Model becomes statutory.



Training Sessions

The following is a list of Engagement Model trainers in our region. If you would like to access training, please contact them directly.

Lead Trainer Name School Lead Trainer Contact
Joanna Cliffe Wren Spinney Special School, Westover Road
NN15 7LB
Claire Rogers Kingsley Special Academy
Churchill Way
NN15 5DP
Donna Luck Red Kite Special Academy, Purbeck Drive, Corby Northampton, NN18 0BX
Jennifer Steptoe Fairfields School, Trinity Avenue, Northampton, NN2 6JN
Jonny Austin Slated Row School,
Old Wolverton Road, Wolverton,
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire,
MK12 5NJ
Katherine Walsh The Regional SEND Leader for South Central England and North West London, Brookfield Primary School, London
Matt McArthur Frank Wise School
Hornbeam Close
OX16 9RL
Stephen Cullingford-Agnew Independent Education Consultant, Northamptonshire
Darren White / Merja Paakkonen Breakspeare School
Gallows Hill Lane,
Abbots Langley
Emilie Smith Ivel Valley School, Hitchmead Road, Biggleswade, Beds, SG18 0NL
Kimberley Legg Addington School, Woodlands Avenue, Reading, RG5 3EU  

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