Posted in Assessment, Primary, Secondary, teaching

Assessment for learning (AfL) techniques

AfL is as important now as ever, particularly as schools are being urged to develop their own assessment strategies. AfL, a form of formative assessment, doesn’t rely on testing or quizzes (although they can be used). So what kind of techniques can be used to assess learning day-to-day?

‘ICAN!’ statements

TheSchoolBus ‘ICAN!’ statements lay out exactly what needs to be learned throughout the year. Designed to be pasted into the front of an exercise book, these simple templates, available for the core subjects at key stages one and two, allow pupils to take charge of their own learning, while giving teachers an insight into how they are managing with the material.



Learning journals

Reflective journals aren’t just for teachers! A learning journal can develop children into independent learners, able to own their learning journey. As a form of active learning, learning journals can increase a pupil’s interest levels, and help them to remember more as they write down what they have learned in their own words.

Peer and self-assessment

Peer and self-assessment form a vital part of AfL. Techniques which include an element of peer or self-assessment encourage pupils to think carefully about parts of the lesson they have not understood. Pupils learn to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, and are often more receptive to constructive criticism from their peers than from their teacher.

Assessing pupil progress (APP)

APP involves teachers periodically assessing examples of work, using set guidelines, giving them a profile of their students’ achievements across subjects. Evidence could include short or extended pieces of writing, information from different areas of the curriculum, and annotated text, or visual organisers like storyboards, oral work, self-assessment, and observation.

Guided reading

Guided reading is an approach which gives teachers an opportunity to teach reading to pupils who are struggling. Sessions are differentiated to the needs of various cohorts, and individual levels of achievement.

Guided reading involves small groups (no more than seven), all working at a similar level of achievement. Pupils must have their own copy of the text that is being read, in order to encourage independent reading. The text should be something that none of the pupils have read before, to reinforce and extend taught strategies.

This represents just a brief insight into AfL, there are a myriad of different strategies and techniques that can be used to assess learning, with or without a test!



I'm an ex-teacher with a real passion for education, politics and teaching. I am also a keen writer and blogger with strong opinions.

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