2 Curriculum and assessment


Curriculum for Excellence is designed to achieve a transformation in education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum from 3 to 18 year olds. The term curriculum is understood to mean - everything that is planned for children and young people throughout their education, not just what happens in the classroom.

Curriculum for Excellence includes four contexts for learning:

  • Curriculum areas and subjects
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Ethos and life of the school
  • Opportunities for personal achievement.

The Building the Curriculum document series [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] provides advice, guidance and policy for different aspects of Curriculum for Excellence.

Activity 20 Word cloud

Inclusive, exclusive, flexible, rigid, exploiting, developed, better, poorer, learners, teachers, parents, additional, normal, usual, included, excluded, lessons, appropriate, planning, early intervention, appropriate support, support, curriculum, timely

Select the appropriate word from the list above to complete the paragraph correctly

Curriculum for Excellence is an ___________curriculum and is designed to be________. Schools and Local authorities should be ________fully the flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence to _________meet the needs of all___________. Schools must ensure that the needs of all learners, including those who have ___________support needs are incorporated and __________from the start of any curriculum planning to ensure timely and ___________ which will enable learners to participate in well planned experiences and achieve positive outcomes.

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Curriculum for Excellence is an inclusive curriculum and is designed to be flexible. Schools and Local authorities should be exploiting fully the flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence to better meet the needs of all learners. Schools must ensure that the needs of all learners, including those who have additional support needs are incorporated and included from the start of any curriculum planning to ensure timely and appropriate support which will enable learners to participate in well planned experiences and achieve positive outcomes.

Assessment within the classroom

Within Curriculum for Excellence, assessment is used to support individual learning and to provide reliable information to learners, parents, employers and further and higher education about the standards that have been achieved.

‘Building the Curriculum 5 (2011) A Framework for Assessment’ provides guidance on the main areas of the assessment strategy for Curriculum for Excellence. Reflecting the values and principles of Curriculum for Excellence ‘A Framework for Assessment’ is designed to support the purposes of Curriculum for Excellence.

Principles of assessment

The principles of Curriculum for Excellence apply to assessment in a way that achieves coherence across experiences and outcomes, learning and teaching and assessment practice. Assessment is an integral part of learning and teaching. It helps to provide a picture of a child’s or young person's progress and achievements and to identify next steps in learning. Assessment approaches need to promote learner engagement and ensure appropriate support so that all learners can achieve their aspirational goals and maximise their potential.

The purposes of assessment are to:

  • Support learning that develops the knowledge and understanding, skills, attributes and capabilities which contribute to the four capacities
  • Give assurance to parents, children themselves, and others, that children and young people are progressing in their learning and developing in line with expectations
  • Provide a summary of what learners have achieved, including through qualifications and awards
  • Contribute to planning the next stages of learning and help learners progress to further education, higher education and employment
  • Inform future improvements in learning and teaching.

High quality interactions between learners and staff lie at the heart of assessment as part of learning and teaching. Section 1.1 highlighted that ‘pupil support’ begins with the classroom teacher and not the support for learning teacher. Class teachers assess constantly, as part of daily learning and teaching and are involved and responsible for the continuing assessment, monitoring and planning for their pupils, following the principles and purpose of assessment information. They do this, for example, by watching and listening to learners carrying out tasks, by looking at what they write and make and by considering how they answer questions. They get to know their learners well, build up a profile of their progress, strengths and needs and involve them in planning what they need to learn next. Effective ongoing assessment is about establishing where children and young people are in their learning, where they are going and how best to get there. It is important that teachers use and share the evidence about learning to provide useful feedback to learners, to adapt learning and teaching approaches to meet their needs and to revisit areas where learning is not yet secure.

Sources of assessment evidence that class teachers can share with support staff include:

  • observations of learners carrying out tasks and activities, including practical investigations, performances, oral presentations and discussions
  • records (oral, written, audio-visual) created by children and young people which may include self-assessment and/or peer assessment or may be assessed by the teacher
  • information obtained through questioning in high quality interactions and dialogue
  • written responses
  • a product, for example, a piece of artwork, report, project
  • accounts provided by others (parents, other children or young people, or other staff) about what learners have done

Ongoing assessment, including in the senior phase, will include assessing progress across the breadth of learning, in challenging aspects and when applying learning in different and unfamiliar contexts. A class teacher’s valuable insight and observations contribute significantly to the provision of appropriate curriculum planning, assessment and supporting learners with additional support needs. Assessment within the context of Curriculum for Excellence is also assessment for additional support needs. They are not two different types of assessment.

There is no expectation that class teachers will or need to be ‘experts’ in any area of additional support. They must be able to access specialist advice and guidance from support for learning/pupil support /specialist teachers or inclusion officers. (Local authorities use different terminology for staff). This advice or consultation can be either through face to face meetings or by phone, email or a medium such as Skype. Section 6 outlines in further detail the roles of staff within the school community.

Ensuring appropriate support

Building the Curriculum 3 details the entitlement of all children and young people to

‘personal support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide.’

Assessment has to be fair and inclusive and must allow every learner to show what they have achieved and how well they are progressing. Staff can ensure that assessment meets all learners’ needs by providing each child and young person with the most appropriate support. In doing so, they will ensure that every learner has the best chance of success. For monitoring and tracking to be successful, records of children’s and young people’s achievements and progress need to be manageable. Staff should use assessment information from a wide range of sources to monitor learners’ progress and plan next steps in learning. Assessment information should be shared and discussed with the learner, parents, other staff as appropriate, and partners involved in supporting learning. All can contribute at appropriate times to setting targets for learning and ensuring appropriate support for each child and young person.

Activity 21 Reflective task

‘A framework for Assessment’ is part of a series of Building the Curriculum publications and is intended to further support planning, design and putting into practice the curriculum and approaches to assessment in schools and colleges. It provides guidance and although written in 2011 is still a relevant and useful document to read when evaluating approaches to assessment.

https://www.education.gov.scot/ Documents/ btc5-framework.pdf

Read pages 49 – 51 which focuses on the ‘Roles and responsibilities in assessment’ for:

  • Learners
  • Teachers and other practitioners
  • Parents
  • Curriculum planners and managers in pre-school, school, community, college and other settings (including headteachers, depute headteachers, faculty heads/principal teachers, curriculum leaders and service managers)
  • Education authorities

In your reflective log use the table to reflect and evaluate assessment in relation to inclusive practice.

You can share this activity and your reflections with colleagues and or you line manger to discuss current practice and approaches for assessment of additional support needs used by class teachers and support for learning staff.

Activity 22 Reflective task

In you reflective log consider the following questions

  • What might be the issues that you need to address in planning assessment opportunities, recognising “that learners will progress in different ways” and can “demonstrate their achievement in different ways”?
  • How will you address the challenges of assessing the broad range of learning across all contexts and settings in which the curriculum is experienced?

2.1 Developing an inclusive curriculum