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Report details

This report has been written in response to a request for advice in the Minister for Education’s annual remit letter to Estyn for 2021 to 2022 which commissioned Estyn to consider the approaches to classroom assessment that support learning.

The report focuses on how maintained primary, secondary, all-age and special schools are developing effective approaches to assessment and improve teaching and learning. The report is identified as being part of a series of reports providing guidance during the period of change in education, to Curriculum for Wales.

The report specifically looks at the planning for assessment, using assessment to support responsive teaching and developing collaborative approaches to assessment in the classroom.

Summary of main findings

Estyn found that in most schools visited the leaders had carefully considered how approaches to assessment can be developed to reflect the context of the Curriculum for Wales. Schools with effective assessment arrangements have considered the role of assessment within the Curriculum for Wales and have developed clear and useful policies and practices that align with the principles and purposes of assessment, as identified in the Curriculum for Wales, Supporting Learner Progression, Assessment Guidance.

Estyn identified that effective assessment practice occurs when priority is given to the role of formative assessment in teaching and learning, with practitioners holding a clear understanding of the purpose of assessment, how it supports learning, and its role in refining teaching.

Estyn identified that effective practice occurs when leaders understand the need for teachers to be involved collaborative in developing policies and practice for assessment and that effective practice occurs when leaders invest in professional learning and give time and space to teachers to develop understanding of formative assessment providing teachers with a range of strategies from which to choose to best support the needs of the individual pupils.  

Estyn identified the importance of using the information that flows from assessing learner progress to inform teaching and learning and approaches to curriculum planning, identifying the need to be able to use this information to refine teaching.

Estyn identified the importance of pupils having a clear understanding of the intended learning and what success looks like in sessions and receive constructive feedback from a range of sources, including peer and self-assessment, that challenges pupils to become increasingly effective and independent in moving their own learning forwards.


A total of six recommendations are presented in the report, of which four are for schools, and two are for Welsh Government, consortia and Local Authorities.

Schools should:

  1. Prioritise approaches to assessment that deepen teachers’ understanding of pupils’ learning and their progress.
  2. Develop teachers’ and leaders’ understanding of effective classroom formative assessment practice.
  3. Ensure the teachers use assessment information to adjust their teaching to support and challenge all pupils appropriately.
  4. Embed systemic opportunities for pupils to develop their skills in evaluating and improving their own and their peers’ learning.

Welsh Government response to recommendations 1 to 4

Note recommendations 1 to 4

These recommendations are intended to embed assessment approaches that support the principles of assessment as set out in the Curriculum for Wales Supporting Learner progression guidance. The recommendations aim to support the prioritisation of formative assessment approaches that facilitates understanding of individual learner progress and which support practitioners to tailor teaching and learning to best support the individual needs of learners.   

In addition to the 'Curriculum for Wales, Supporting Learner Progression, Assessment guidance', which outlines the principles and approaches needed to support effective assessment within Curriculum for Wales delivery, Welsh Government have also created a number of resources to sit alongside the guidance, to further develop understanding and support implementation of assessment in Curriculum for Wales. 

A number of resources were published on the Curriculum for Wales section of Hwb in June 2022 to further support understanding of progression, assessment and curriculum design. These have been shared directly with schools and setting as well as with consortia, for use alongside their wider Professional Learning offer.

The 'CAMAU: assessing for the Future workshops' were published by Welsh Government in July 2022. These are a series of 6 workshops designed for use by practitioners, schools and settings to develop capacity and skills related to assessment in Curriculum for Wales. The workshops bring together policy, research and practitioner expertise to build capacity in schools as they engage with Curriculum for Wales Assessment Guidance and develop approaches to assessment designed to improve further progression in learning. The 6 workshops are organised as 3 pairs, progression and assessment; the learner at the centre and; integrating curriculum, assessment and pedagogy. Each pair of workshops addresses a particular theme of central importance to assessment and curriculum design in Curriculum for Wales and themes that have been picked up throughout the Estyn report.   

During the development of the 'CAMAU: assessing for the Future workshops' a joint advisory group comprising members of the middle tier was established. Group discussions recognised the benefit of the production of follow up resources to build on the Assessing for the Future workshops and consolidate classroom practice across Wales. Welsh Government has commissioned the production of additional materials to support Professional Learning which will aim to develop practitioner understanding, capacity and skills related to assessment and progression, to support their practice as they engage with the Curriculum for Wales Guidance. These additional materials are being developed and will be published during the Autumn term.

WG, consortia and LAs should:

  1. Develop constructive professional learning opportunities for schools to improve their understanding and use of formative assessment practices.
  2. Facilitate and support collaboration across schools to develop leaders’ and teachers’ understanding of progression and share effective practice in formative assessment.

Welsh Government response to recommendations 5 to 6

Accept recommendations 5 to 6

These recommendations focus on the role Welsh Government, Consortia/partnerships and Local Authorities hold in supporting schools to better understand and implement effective assessment practice in Curriculum for Wales. The package of supporting resources published by Welsh Government referenced above, along with the additional professional learning materials being developed, are targeted at improving schools’ understanding and use of formative assessment practices. These resources have been developed co-constructively with Consortia, to ensure the package of materials target the specific needs of schools in respect of assessment. Welsh Government will continue to work with Consortia and Local Authorities to identify and address ways to support professional learning needs.

The Welsh Government will continue to facilitate and support collaboration across schools (recommendation 6) through the National Network for Curriculum implementation. The National Network brings together teaching professionals, experts, stakeholders, policy makers and enabling partners, including regional consortia, to identify and address the barriers to, and opportunities for, the implementation of Curriculum for Wales.

Building from the progression conversations of Autumn 2020, Progression and Assessment conversations were held during the 2021 spring term, where participants came together from across Wales to share their understanding of progression and how it can be effectively assessed. As well as focusing on understanding and planning for progression within a school’s Curriculum and how assessment practice is being developed to support that progression across the breadth of the Curriculum, the spring conversations focused on developing an understanding of effective approaches to co-construction within and across schools to support further development of practice in planning progression and assessment. The resources for these conversations remain online under the National Network for Curriculum Implementation web-pages to support school leader’s and practitioner’s to hold conversations within their own schools.

The National Conversation in the Autumn and Spring terms 2022 to 2023, will be focusing on Curriculum and Assessment Design and this will support practitioners in developing a shared understanding of progression as set out in the Direction on Developing and Maintaining a Shared Understanding of Progression and provide the opportunity to co-construct approaches and drive change in assessment practice. 

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