Last Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2021

Continuous profiling and reporting in primary schools: The Highland Council

What is this?

​​This example of good practice focuses on efforts by Highland Council to identify more effective ways to report to families, ensuring the learner is at the centre of the process. It is part of the Tackling bureaucracy and addressing undue workload in schools set of case studies.

Highland Council’s approach to continuous profiling and reporting takes cognisance of following Key Drivers of the National Improvement Framework:

  • Parental Engagement,
  • Assessment of Children’s Progress,
  • and Performance Information.

Who is this for?

​Those interested in developing continuous profiling and reporting in early learning and childcare (ELC) settings and schools will find this example of practice useful.

Those interested in tackling bureaucracy and addressing undue workload in schools will find this example of practice useful.​

​Explore this example of practice


The expectation from Education Scotland in the CfE implementation Plan 2015/2016 was that: “Schools should involve parents in developing more simple and effective means of reporting that emphasise quality of engagement rather than reams of paperwork.”

In an attempt to develop Q.I 2.5 How Good Is Our School 4 (HGIOS4) ‘Family Learning’ through identifying ways to enable ongoing profiling and reporting, Highland Council began to develop continuous approaches to profiling and reporting to support increased family engagement which began during the 2014/2015 session. This approach was initially developed in primary schools and now encompasses Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings.

What was done and why?

Highland Council wanted to enhance the dialogue with learners and their families, strengthen the relationship between profiling and reporting, and to ensure learners and their families felt confident in the learning process.

A steering group of practitioners from 10 pathfinder schools developed and trialled continuous profiling and reporting in their schools. This was co-ordinated by a Quality Improvement Officer and a Development Officer.

Using the Scottish Government’s 3-Step Model for Improvement,a series of Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles were conducted to test different approaches to, and support resources for, taking a continuous approach to profiling and reporting. There are four key elements in primary profiling and reporting in Highland:

In addition to the Primary Profiling and Reporting training, to support the learning, teaching and assessment cycle (Moderation Cycle), ‘Building Key Assessment Task’ training was developed and rolled out across the local authority to support schools to embedding the planning learning, teaching and assessment principles of the Moderation Cycle.

Following the success of the primary model, it was replicated within Early Learning and Childcare. Training for ELC managers started in May 2018 and will continue into the 2018/2019 academic session.​

A package of resources was then put together and rolled out across the local authority between 2015 - 2017.

What was the impact?

By May 2018, 98% of schools had attended the primary profiling and reporting training in Highland. For early years, following the first round of training in May 2018, this amounted to 57% of early learning and childcare settings.​

The response from Senior Management Team (SMT) members attending the various training events provided by the local authority was that:​

  • Highland Council’s approach to profiling and reporting has provided early years settings and schools with a toolkit of resources to assess their current progress with profiling and reporting, identify their priorities for next steps and provide them with a number of practical resources to use in collegiate sessions with staff within their Working Time Agreement, at a pace which is manageable for the school community.
  • Highland’s approach to profiling and reporting increases family engagement in the learning process. Through collaborative conversations between learners, their families and staff, all involved in supporting the learner’s journey have increased clarity in their performance across the curriculum and their direction of travel.
  • Highland’s approach to profiling and reporting has provided school (and ELC setting) communities with the autonomy of identifying how their profiling and reporting should look, built around Highland’s principles of Effective Profiling and Reporting.
  • Highland’s approach to profiling and reporting has allowed practitioners to focus time and attention on on-going feedback for improvement, removing the burden of the end of year report which has historically had minimal impact on next steps. The continuous profiling and reporting model has on-going profiling dialogue with a short, summative report which takes around 15 minutes to complete for each pupil.​

Continuous profiling and reporting in Highland has brought together learning, teaching and assessment under one umbrella, streamlining the advice and guidance for practitioners, as reiterated in the CfE Statement from August 2016.

The Curriculum, Skills for Learning, Life and Work/ Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), Key Assessment Tasks and Effective Feedback and Learning Conversations are regarded as a collective in Highland through continuous profiling and reporting, staff making the intrinsic links to support the learner’s journey, whilst tackling unnecessary bureaucracy.

The Key Assessment Task training in Highland has enabled schools to further develop their medium term planning, focused on clear learning intentions and success criteria, whilst demonstrating learning through assessments which enable breadth, challenge and application of learning. This process has enabled practitioners in schools to have a better understanding of the expectations within the curriculum and plan for learners’ transferable skills development. This has also enabled practitioners to have more focused learning conversations around learners’ achievements.
In the early years, a similar model has been taken encompassing observations and learning conversations; child centred curriculum; effective family engagement. The approaches in ELCs and primary schools have been dovetailed to enable effective transition from nursery to primary 1.

Kyleakin Primary School

During their inspection, Kyleakin Primary School’s inspection note of 10 May 2016 highlighted their approaches to continuous profiling and reporting. Kyleakin was a pathfinder school in Highland between 2014 and 2016 and continues to support further development of profiling and reporting within the early years. The inspection note stated:

  • “Children are consulted regularly about what they want to learn about. They are using targets very well to build their awareness of what they do well and what they need to improve further. Much of this is recorded in their learning journals and learning logs which they share with you.”

On-going learning conversations have had a positive impact on the learner’s journey. Through the development of Effective Feedback and Learning Conversations, a tri-cluster which was involved as a pilot school developed '360 degrees' learning conversations between learners, their families and school staff. Feedback from families following the development has been as follows:

  • “It was really good to hear my child speak positively about her learning and progress. A great little conversation!”
  • “We have an indepth insight into our children’s learning.”

What happens next?

Highland’s approaches to continuous profiling and reporting in ELCs and primary schools will continue to be embedded as part of the centre’s improvement planning processes.

The Moderation ​Cycle from Education Scotland has currently been supported through the Key Assessment Task training. This has so far enabled practitioners to plan for learning, teaching and assessment, creating quality key assessment tasks which demonstrate the learning. In the 2018/2019 session the local authority will support practitioners to:

  • moderate the quality of Key Assessment Tasks
  • moderate the outcome of Key Assessment Tasks in terms of learner achievement
  • use the Key Assessment Tasks to support ‘Achievement of a Level’ judgements.