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Moderation Myth Busting with Allison and Sian

Jun 21st 2023

In the last week or so, year 2 and year 6 teachers across the country will have been informed as to whether they have been chosen for external local authority moderation this year.

For many, this will have caused some anxiety, so as trained moderators ourselves, we wanted to share our knowledge to support you through it all. Last year, we shared our top tips, so this year we have decided to debunk some of the myths that surround moderation.

You have to prepare a set collection of evidence before moderation – MYTH

There is no requirement to spend hours preparing evidence for pupils beyond what has been produced by them in the classroom. The Teacher Assessment Guidance states that:

Evidence should come from day-to-day work in the classroom and can be drawn from a variety of sources… A pupil’s workbook will often have all the evidence a teacher needs but evidence might also come from projects, assessment notes, classroom tests and assessments. Teacher Assessment Guidance 2023 STA

The only piece of evidence required by moderators (at KS1) would be a pupil’s maths and reading SAT score/paper. It is up to you what you would like to share with moderators, but you need to ensure that it helps to exemplify the standard the pupil is working at and how you came to make your judgement.

Examples of evidence you may want to include could be:

For both KS1/KS2:

  • English books
  • Topic books
  • Handwriting books
  • Intervention evidence (if justifying that a pupil has a particular weakness)
  • Spelling tests


For KS1 only:

  • Reading comprehension answers
  • Home reading records
  • Running records
  • Teaching notes from reading sessions


This is not an exhaustive list but some suggestions of where you could find the evidence you want to share. If you know there are particularly good pieces of writing which exemplify standards in a pupil’s book, a post-it note to indicate the page can be useful, so you know where to find it. There is not an expectation for you to have tick lists for evidence, but you should instead be familiar and comfortable with the standards to talk about each one.

It doesn’t matter if pupils aren’t showing evidence of all statements as the Teacher Assessment Framework is a best fit model – MYTH

In order to agree a specific standard, moderators need to be confident that teachers can articulate the evidence for each statement. There is no requirement to check evidence for a preceding statement (this is taken as secure) unless there are gaps in the statements at the standard the pupil is presented at. The exception to this is when a pupil is considered to have a ‘particular weakness’ e.g. for spelling, tenses or handwriting. In this case, they may not meet the criteria for all statements due to the identified ‘particular weakness’ but this should not lead to a judgement being made which is not an accurate judgement of a pupil’s overall attainment. Moderators would need to be confident that support had been put in place for the pupils but that despite this, they are still experiencing difficulties.

On some occasions, moderators may wish to see further evidence of a statement to check that pupils are secure, and this is where a topic book could support teachers. Some statements lend themselves to particular types of writing so work in Science or History could be useful. What moderators don’t need, is to see a statement evidenced numerous times in different pieces of writing, and there are times when one piece of writing can provide enough evidence for a number of statements:

Sometimes a single piece of work can provide evidence for multiple statements, depending on the statements and the nature of the evidence. Teacher Assessment Guidance 2023 STA

Work which has been marked or has a success criteria cannot be used for moderation – MYTH

Have you been told to stop all marking, guidance, modelling and success criteria when teaching writing after Christmas? Without these, you aren’t really teaching writing – just producing more evidence at the same standard without actually moving your pupils’ writing on.

Success criteria can be used if not overly detailed or scaffolded; avoid using criteria which say e.g. use conjunctions to extend your sentences (when, if, that, because). This would be deemed as overly detailed. You could try generating success criteria with your class and writing it on your flip chart for them all to look at and choose independently which elements they wish to use. Pupils of all ages need support with modelled and shared writing. Just don’t model paragraph by paragraph and be clear yourself on which pieces of writing have been produced in direct response to a model (and sound similar to the model). The issue comes when many pieces of writing across the class read exactly the same.

Finally, with marking, pupils do need feedback, and they are not going to address errors unless you support them with these. You may feedback to a pupil on a misspelling for 2-3 pieces of writing and then in a later piece, the pupil spells the word correctly independently. You can also use pieces for moderation which have been marked – you would just need to avoid assessing them on the statements which the marking focuses on.

Moderators are there to tell teachers what standard their pupils are working at  MYTH

During the course of the year, you may have taken part in moderation sessions as part of your school CPD (we know because we deliver them to many school clusters). In these situations, you are often guided by the facilitator and can ask questions to help you with your understanding of the standards and what each statement means and looks like in reality. During an external moderation, the process is slightly different. The focus here should be on you being able to express your understanding of the standards and statements and explain clearly to the moderators how you have reached your judgements. This all forms part of the ‘professional discussion’. The moderator needs to feel confident that the teacher can articulate and demonstrate how a pupil meets the standards.

During this discussion, you have the opportunity to share your knowledge, provide a context for the pupils and justify your decisions. The phrase moderators use to guide this discussion is ‘show me, tell me, convince me’.

Moderators aren’t there to catch you out or test you. Instead, the moderator wants to be convinced and agree with what you have presented. This is obviously not always going to be the case, but the professional discussion will help to guide both parties in their understanding of the reasons for the final decisions. If you are sure of your judgement and can explain the evidence behind it, then that is a positive basis for the meeting. Remember a discussion implies a 2-way process and your voice is valued within this.

These are just some of the myths we wanted to discuss and to help you be prepared for your moderation visit. We know that it can be an emotive time and you have invested in these pupils so want them to get the best possible outcome. Remember that for some pupils being a secure WTS with clear next steps for the next year group is a good outcome. Have a wonderful half-term break and good luck in June.


If you have any questions about this blog or moderation, get in touch and we will do our best to answer your questions!