Assessing the Cross-Curricular Skills

Since September 2012, statutory end of key stage assessment arrangements have been in place to support the Northern Ireland Curriculum. These include arrangements for assessing the Cross-Curricular Skills of Communication, Using Mathematics and Using ICT at the end of Key Stage 3.

Setting the Standard

The Levels of Progression set out the common standards, from Level 1 to Level 7, for all post-primary schools to use. They set out, in the form of ‘can do’ statements, a continuum of skills that pupils should be able to demonstrate if they are to build the literacy, numeracy and ICT skills needed to function effectively in life and in the world of work.

Teachers can use the Levels of Progression for all year groups in Key Stage 3 as a framework to support progression and inform learning and teaching. Teachers must use them at the end of the key stage (Year 10) to make summative judgements about which level each pupil has achieved in each Cross-Curricular Skill.

Some learners will not be on the mainstream pathway for these skills. Teachers can assess these learners using our non-statutory frameworks such as Quest for Learning and the Prerequisite Skills (Q Skills). In certain circumstances, these learners may be exempt from statutory assessment.

Internal Standardisation

Internal standardisation is a collaborative process in which teachers within a school consider work produced by their pupils and, using the Levels of Progression, reach a common agreement on standards that are typical of work at a particular level. Internal standardisation is essential to ensure that teacher judgements are consistent and accurate. Schools can decide how often they hold internal standardisation meetings.

External Moderation

External moderation is part of the statutory process, and schools must be involved in this process each year for one of the three Cross-Curricular Skills. For each school, this means that external moderation of each skill happens once every three years. See the Assessment Arrangements link below, which includes the Supplementary Guidance document, and the Cross-Curricular Skills pages for more information.

Exemption from the Statutory Curriculum and Assessment

Some pupils may be exempt from part or all of the statutory curriculum and assessment arrangements on a temporary or permanent basis. See Information for Principals on Exemptions from Statutory Curriculum and Assessment for a guide to taking the correct approach for each pupil.


We have designed a range of support resources to assist schools when using the Levels of Progression.