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What is assessment, and when and how does it take place?

What is meant by assessment?

​Assessment is carried out to see what children and young people know, understand and are able to do.

Assessment is very important for tracking progress, planning next steps, reporting and involving parents, children and young people in learning.

Assessment covers:

  • The ways teachers support and assess children's learning and monitor progress and identify next steps in learning.
  • Reporting to parents/carers, in writing and in discussions, to help them understand their child's progress and what they can do to help their child's learning.
  • Formal recognition of a child or young person's achievements through profiles and qualifications.
  • Recognising our children's achievements through a range of new qualifications in the senior school, which build on everything they have accomplished throughout their schooling.

Curriculum for Excellence has improved assessment in the following ways:

  • A better connected assessment system with smoother links through early learning, primary, secondary school and college.
  • More ways of assessing progress to support learning and more flexibility to meet learners' individual needs.
  • By introducing individual profiles of children's achievements at P7 and S3. These give a clear recognition of the achievements they have made and the skills they have developed at these crucial times in their lives.

What is being assessed?

Assessment is a way of supporting learning. It helps teachers, learners, parents and others to understand the depth and breadth of learning undertaken so that progress and next steps can be discussed and planned.

There are eight curriculum areas (containing a range of subjects):

  • Expressive arts
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Languages (including English, Gaelic, classical languages and modern languages)
  • Mathematics
  • Religious and moral education
  • Sciences
  • Social studies
  • Technologies

Each curriculum area is broken down into a set of experiences and outcomes (often referred to as Es and Os):

  • The Experience describes the learning.
  • The Outcome represents what the learning will achieve. This is often explained, from the pupil's perspective as an 'I can....', 'I am able to....'

Teachers will assess what children know, understand and are able to do within the experiences and outcomes. Teachers will assess each learner's progress and achievements in:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Skills
  • Attributes and capabilities

There are also three key areas which are covered by all teachers/practitioners:

  • Literacy across learning
  • Numeracy across learning
  • Health and wellbeing across learning

How are children assessed?

Your child's progress is not only based on 'tests' but on the learning that takes place within the classroom and in different settings outwith the classroom.

Evidence of children and young people's progress and achievements will come from day to day learning and through the things they may write, say, make or do. For example, evidence may emerge as a result of children and young people taking part in a presentation, discussion, performance or practical investigation. Evidence could also be a drawing, report, or piece of art work that they have produced. Evidence may be captured as a photograph, video or audio clip as part of a particular learning experience.

Gathering evidence

Evidence of progress and achievement can be gathered by:

  • children and young people through self-assessment. They will be encouraged and supported to look at and revisit their own work, to develop a better understanding of what they have learned, and what they need to work on
  • fellow pupils (peers) through peer assessment. Children and young people will be encouraged and supported to work together with others to assess what is good about their work and what needs to be worked on
  • teachers, parents and others who can help identify and support their next steps in learning.

When does assessment happen?

Assessment takes place as part of ongoing learning and teaching, periodically and at key transitions.

As part of ongoing learning

Children and young people's progress, strengths and needs are assessed as part of day-to-day learning and teaching. Teachers and others do this by, for example, watching and listening to learners carrying out tasks, by looking at what they write or make and by considering how they answer questions.

Children and young people will be involved in planning their next steps in learning.

Time to time (periodically)

From time to time, teachers will assess children and young people's progress and achievements in order to be able to plan ahead and to record and report on progress. This will help to ensure that their progress is on track and that any necessary action is taken to support their learning.

At key points, transitions

Transitions are the moves children and young people make, from home to early learning and childcare settings, from stage to stage (and through Curriculum for Excellence levels), from primary to secondary, to further or higher education and employment. Sharing of assessment information with parents is important to ensure all learners are supported and have a positive experience. Information about a learner's progress and achievements will be passed on to make sure that their broad general education and senior phase continue uninterrupted at the correct level and at an appropriate pace for them.

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