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V25s3: Assessing ICT KS3

Course information

This is one of the ‘project courses’ from Vital. It provides an opportunity for you to plan, carry out and evaluate a project in your classroom. It is supported by a set of resources and activities to give you ideas for possible projects. You are not expected go through every resource but to pick those which are most relevant to your interests, context and possible project.

You will need access to:

  • a computer with a web browser
  • headset (including microphone and speakers) for online tutorials (optional webcam)
  • a class/group of students – groups could be within classes, whole classes, or groups across classes (e.g. clubs) and schools (e.g. clusters of schools or in collaborative projects).

Duration of the course: You should allow for about one to two hours per week for this on top of the time taken to do the project in your classroom or other setting.

Learning outcomes

N.B. The technology or technologies to be used are identified in the Resources section for the course.

Professional and reflective practitioner skills

At the completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify opportunities for assessing students’ use of ICT
  • reflect on and discuss the methods used for assessing ICT
  • reflect on and discuss the impact of assessment of ICT on learning
  • share your learning with others in your field.

Practical skills

At the completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • use a variety of means for assessing students’ ICT capability

Knowledge and understanding

At the completion of this course, you should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • the range of assessment types and their applicability to ICT capability including diagnostic, formative, peer, ipsative and summative
  • a range of methods for assessing students’ ICT capability.

Cognitive skills

At the completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • critically review the assessment process in respect of ICT capability
  • share these reviews with others, constructively critiquing others’ views.

Course schedule

Week Course activities Type Approximate duration
1 Activity 1 Getting to know others on the course Online 30 minutes
1–2 Activity 2 Exploring the resources Online tutorial 1 hour
Activity 3 Guidance on using resources and planning for project 30 minutes
3 Activity 4 Drawing up course plans Individual planning 1 hour
Activity 5 Confirmation of course plans Online tutorial 1 hour
4–8 Activity 6 Classroom project Classroom No extra time needed
Activity 7 Reflective journal Individual 30 minutes to 1 hour per week
Activity 8 Keeping in touch with your cohort and facilitator Online 30 minutes to 1 hour per week
9 Activity 9 Reflecting and reporting back Online 1 hour
Activity 10 Extracting our shared learning Online 30 minutes to 1 hour
Activity 11 Course evaluation and certification Online 30 minutes to 1 hour
Total 9–12 hours over 9 weeks


The course applies a practitioner research model to look at how aspects of learning may be supported and enhanced through the use of technology. Your starting point is ‘a need’ within your practice, which you will investigate how to address. This will involve exploring how other people have already attempted to address a similar need in their practice (bringing in some practical examples of how particular technologies are used in schools), before you plan and implement their use in your school and reflect and discuss what worked and what needs further refinement.

At the heart of your learning is a project that you will carry out in your teaching and learning setting. These materials are written assuming that you have signed up for a course, although they can be followed in self-study mode. Where you have signed up for a course you will be carrying out a project with similar focus to others, both in terms of the phase of education, technology and the curriculum.

Throughout you have an opportunity to share experiences with other participants. Where you have signed up to use these materials as part of a course you will have a facilitator who will conduct tutorials and help support you in your learning and reflection.

The Practitioner Research Cycle

Vital courses are based on a Practitioner Research Cycle as shown in the diagram below.

This cycle draws on, and develops, personal and professional knowledge bases. The latter may be seen in the literature, resources, policies and other materials that are used to inform practice.

Throughout the course small icons will indicate the stage of the cycle being addressed.

NB Prof/Pers KB = Professional/Personal knowledge base

Introducing ourselves

For the purposes of clarity the activities from this point on assume that you are on a course with others. If you are in self-study mode then some activities will not be applicable.

This part of the course provides an introduction to each other, to get a feel for the contexts others are working in. This may allow for cross-fertilisation of ideas in projects and for supported reflection.

Activity 1 Getting to know others on the course

30 minutes during the first week of the course (online).

The objective of this course activity is to get to know the other participants on this course

Task 1 Go to the course forum and the ‘Introductions’ thread. There it will explain how these introductions will be done – e.g. face-to-face, online, using a forum.

Task 2 Where a forum is used, introduce yourself, and your context, telling the other course members what you hope to get out of the course. Reply to some of these messages, identifying areas of overlap with your own context and interests.

Using the course resources in your project

These materials, are complemented by supporting resources and activities, which you can use to support your project. Your facilitator, and others on the course, will help to you to plan and refine your ideas for this project.

Activity 2 Exploring resources

1 hour over the first two weeks of the course (online)

The objective of this course activity is to develop your understanding of the resources provided to support this course.

Go to the Resources section, explore what is there and reflect on how might use them in your classroom or other setting. You are not expected to look at all of the resources, but to choose those which seem to be of most interest and relevance to you. In Activity 4, you will develop a project of your own and these resources are designed to help frame that project. As you explore you might want to make notes that you discuss with your facilitator in Activity 3.

Activity 3 Guidance on using resources and planning for project

30 minutes over the first two weeks of the course (online)

The objectives of this course activity are:

  • to develop your understanding of the resources available
  • to develop a shared understanding of suitable project resources.

Go to the course discussion forum and to the thread ‘Tutorial: Resource and project guidance’. This will contain guidance on how the tutorial will be conducted – for example, it may be online or face-to-face. The tutorial will be supported by discussion in the forum. When you attend the tutorial, online, you should be prepared to discuss initial ideas for your project.

Activity 4 Drawing up course plans

1 hour during the third week of the course (individual activity)

The objective of this course activity is to plan your use of the resources and associated technology in a project in your setting.

You will need to consider:

  • how your plan fits with your performance management or other targets
  • the classes or groups of learners to be used in the project
  • the learning gains or learning intentions
  • the intended purposes for using the technology and resources
  • what evidence you will look for of the impact of the resources and technologies on learning and teaching
  • how you will share your findings with others in your setting.

Activity 5 Confirming course plans

1 hour during the third week of the course (online)

The objectives of this course activity are to:

  • develop your understanding of the resources available
  • develop a shared understanding of suitable project activities.

Go to the course forum and to the thread ‘Confirming plans’. You should go to this thread and outline what you plan to do. Comment on others’ plans looking, in particular, for plans which are similar to your own so that you may share ideas and findings.

The project

Having developed your plan on how to use the supporting resources in your classroom you now need to carry out the project. This will last for about half a term. Each week, as you work through the project, you should reflect on what you have learnt and the impact it is having on learners. You should be prepared to share your thoughts and reflections with others.

Activity 6 Classroom project

To be carried out during weeks 3 to 7 (half a term of classroom activity)

The objective of this course activity is to carry out your plan for the use of the resources and technology in your classroom. It is not intended that, in doing so, you spend any extra time over and above your normal teaching and preparation time.

Activity 7 Reflective journal

30 minutes to 1 hour during each week of the project (individual activity)

The objective of this course activity is to reflect systematically on what you have learnt.

Each week you should note down what you have learnt from the project. This might take the form of reflection on your plans in Activities 3 and 4. These reflections may be kept in a blog or some other electronic journal. You will need to use these reflections to inform Activities 8 and 9.

Activity 8 Keeping in touch with your cohort and facilitator

30 minutes to 1 hour during each week of the project (online)

The objectives of this course activity are

  • to share your learning as the project progresses
  • to gain support from colleagues on the course
  • provide support for others in the cohort.

Each week you will receive a message from your facilitator to support your progress through the course and project.

Go to the course forum and to the thread ‘Project discussions’. Share how your project is going, what you are learning and any other resources that you have found to be of use. Respond to the message sent by your facilitator.

You can also use the forum to ask for support and guidance and to support and guide others. You should check back into the forum regularly – little and often is probably the best method here (15 minutes every other day is likely to be much more useful than a one hour block once a week).

Reflect, evaluate and share with others

Having carried out a classroom project, you will share your reflections of what you learnt from it.

Use the key questions below to help evaluate your project. Use your initial planning sheet and the reflections you have captured as a source of data to help you do this.

  • What did the learners do? This is a descriptive activity that explains your action with the learners.
  • What did they learn and how do you know? This is an issue of assessment including observation, discussion, question and answer, testing, etc
  • Was it worthwhile, i.e. did it succeed in meeting your targets? This question relates to your purposes and intended learning outcomes.
  • What did I do? Practitioner research is often done by individuals in their own work. This question requires a description of your own actions.
  • What did I learn? This requires analysis of your data and reflection on your answers.
  • What do I intend to do next? This relates to your next steps for action. This is where you will try to do things to achieve an improvement and to make the work you do with learners more worthwhile in your terms.

Adapted from Open University Curriculum in Action materials (1981)

Activity 9 Reflecting and reporting back

1 hour (online) during the final week of the course.

The objectives of this course activity are

  • to share your reflections on the project
  • give feedback to others as they reflect on their projects.

Make a brief presentation to share your findings – maybe as a couple of slides, short video, images etc. Go to the forum, in the thread ‘Reflections’ upload your presentation, and discuss:

  • the extent to which your intended learning outcomes were achieved
  • the evidence you have for this
  • the ways in which you shared your project with others in your setting
  • key reflections emerging from the consideration of the key questions for evaluation (listed above).

The use of technology in learning and teaching will provide you with evidence that may be useful when considering the Professional Standards for Teaching. You will have collected evidence from planning through to your notes and evaluation to discussion in the forum. Such evidence may be useful to you when demonstrating ways in which you have met the standards.

Depending on the stage of your career, certain Training and Development Agency for Schools TDA standards may be more relevant than others. Click the ‘Discussion’ button to reveal a possible set of standards. If appropriate you can reflect on these in your feedback to this activity.


TDA standards relevant to you might include the following:

  • C7 Evaluate their performance and be committed to improving their practice through appropriate professional development.
  • C8 Have a creative and constructively critical approach towards innovation; being prepared to adapt their practice where benefits and improvements are identified.
  • C17 Know how to use skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT to support their teaching and wider professional activities.
  • C27 Design opportunities for learners to develop their literacy, numeracy, ICT and thinking and learning skills appropriate within their phase and context.
  • P10 Contribute to the professional development of colleagues through coaching and mentoring, demonstrating effective practice, and providing advice and feedback.
  • E2 Research and evaluate innovative curricular practices and draw on research outcomes and other sources of external evidence to inform their own practice and that of colleagues.
  • E14 Contribute to the professional development of colleagues using a broad range of techniques and skills appropriate to their needs so that they demonstrate enhanced and effective practice.

Shared learning

The reflective practitioner cycle is based on developing the professional knowledge base. We have come to the end of the personal reflection phase and will now develop a common understanding of what we have learnt. We will share the key learning points as a group so that these may be collated and added to the community knowledge.

Activity 10 Extracting our shared learning

30 minutes to 1 hour (online) during the final week of the course

The objectives of this course activity are to discuss and agree what we have learnt as a group.

Go to the course forum and, in the Discussion called ‘Shared Learning’, post the key learning points that have emerged for you during the course. With your facilitator, agree on the common shared learning from the group.


This final section allows for evaluation.

Activity 11 Course evaluation

30 minutes to 1 hour (online), during the final week of the course

The objectives of this course activity are to complete an evaluation form and rate and review the course.

Your task is to complete the evaluation questionnaire, which can be found on the course page. There are also links there to print a certificate and rate the course. The certificate will be ‘released’ by your facilitator.


You do not need to do all the activities contained in this Resources section. Select those that are most appropriate to your context, interests and possible projects.

Where possible we provide links to materials hosted by Vital. However, this is not always feasible so please bear in mind that over time material from external websites may become unavailable or obsolete.


These resources focus on assessing ICT at Key Stage 3.

They look at the statutory programme of study and how the components of this contribute to a student’s progress and assessment.

Assessing pupils’ progress (APP) is investigated in the final resource (Resource 5). This introduces participants to the links between short and medium-term assessment of ICT capability.

1 Exploring the National Curriculum

All students have a statutory entitlement to ICT. This is contained within the programme of study statement produced by the QCDA. The programme highlights four key areas:

The four areas can also be viewed in the KS3 programme of study document.

In planning for assessment you will need to understand the core components of each of the four areas.


Follow the links to each area, consider the content and student activity that may enable the areas to be covered. Rank the areas according to your confidence in understanding.

Focus on the two areas you are least confident in. What reduces your confidence in the areas? Is it a case of resources, student capability or limited personal experience of incorporating the areas into your practice?

Choose a sub-area from each of the two focus points. Plan a practical task that allows students to provide evidence for each of the sub-areas.

2 ICT levels

ICT level descriptors are provided from Level 1 to Exceptional performance above Level 8. An assumption is made that most students will enter Year 7 at Level 4 or above. The QCDA provide descriptors. The document, National curriculum ICT levels may be more accessible.


Consider the activities that your students engage in that produce evidence for a minimum of three descriptors at Levels 4 and 5. In your practice select two pieces of work for each level for inclusion in a portfolio of evidence.

How might you move your students to the next level?

Consider the type of activity that the student would need to engage in. How does this affect your planning for assessment for future cohorts?

Key to this aspect is an understanding of the key processes:

  • Finding information
  • Developing ideas
  • Communicating information
  • Evaluating.

The processes increase in complexity and intellectual effort as students progress through the yearly learning objectives.

Note on using lists

Assessment amounts to more than matching a student’s work against a published set of criteria. Lists, such as that included with this resource, should be used with caution and as an aid to teacher judgement and understanding. You are reminded of Resource 1 in which the ICT programme of study was considered. Factors that contribute to a student’s work must be considered alongside the final pieces of evidence.

3 Planning for assessment

The Excel workbook ICT national programme  is a mapping tool that combines the four key areas from Resource 1, ICT level descriptors from Resource 2 and the statement of statutory yearly ICT learning objectives. The latter can be viewed online or in the document The framework for secondary ICT.


Choose one class from Years 7–9. Using the Excel file, match tasks from your current schemes of work against the yearly learning objectives in column C. From the drop-down menu in column I select the level descriptor that best matches the difficulty of the task.

How might you move your students to the next level?

Consider the type of activity that students would need to engage in to meet the next learning objective in the sub-strand or across the years. How does this affect your planning for assessment for future cohorts?

From the drop-down menus in columns E–H select the menu options that best fit the task and level descriptor. This will assist in developing your understanding of how the four areas contribute towards the evidence base of your assessment.

4 Progression in assessment

Guidance on assessment between levels has been provided by The National Strategies. The information can also be viewed in the six documents linked below, focusing on three strands of the ICT programme of study:


Select one of the documents in which you believe you need to develop greater understanding.

Record the type of evidence that a student might produce to satisfy a level from each of the examples.

Consider how you might scaffold the step change between levels so as to not restrict the student’s progress.

What commentary might you need to provide to enable a student to move to the next level?

5 Assessing pupils’ progress

The preceding resources have largely focused on the assessment of single evidence activities and strands. This resource the short-term assessment processes.

In 2009 the Assessing Pupils’ Progress scheme was launched for secondary ICT. This builds on short-term assessment and aims to provide a wider, even picture of a student’s ability across a range of strands and learning objectives. In respect of Key Stage 3, it also aims to provide a confident judgement of level to offer information for the learning path into Key Stage 4. Support for this is available from The National Strategies website.

APP reduces the assessment areas to three assessment foci (AFs):

  • AF1 – Planning, developing and evaluation
  • AF2 – Handling data, sequencing instructions and modeling
  • AF3 – Finding, using and communicating information.


Read the document Assessment criteria: ICT. From two or more schemes of work that your students have worked through or are currently working through identify evidence that your students have produced that fits into the grid.

To be confident in applying a level you should aim to evidence the criteria at least once in separate units of work. The document Teachers’ handbook provides further guidance on applying levels.

Recording of APP needs to be planned. A national document has been produced, Assessment guidelines, that separates the levels into blocks of two.

Alternatives to this are the ICT APP calculator 1 or ICT APP calculator 2 Excel workbooks. Consider which method best suits your working practice. If you choose to use the Excel version see the additional guidance below.

Both versions of the calculator use macros to perform a range of calculations. This may require that you alter your level of security to allow use of macros. Where this is locked on your particular equipment refer to your system administrator.

The macros are locked with a password. This will be released on request (see Copyright and use of resources at the end of the Resources).

ICT APP calculator 1 uses a formula to date stamp when a particular criterion was applied to student work. This uses a circular reference which may produce an error message on first use. Alternatively, use the ICT APP calculator 2. This does not use the date stamp facility.

Using the ICT calculators

The ICT APP calculators use a series of macros and coding to allow teachers to record student progress through the APP AFs. The starting point is the Class list worksheet. Student names can be entered into column A in the usual manner (typed or copied and pasted).

Once names have been inserted, clicking the three blue buttons will in turn place underscores between a student’s first and last names, create an individual student record and link the student’s name to his or her individual record.

Once student names have been entered into the Class list worksheet individual progress is recorded in the student’s worksheet. The only editing that should be undertaken in the Class list worksheet is to add or remove students.

The worksheet has 33 rows preformatted to accommodate all but the largest of classes. If more than 33 students are required you will need to use autofill from row 35 onwards. When a student is removed from the list remember to remove the hyperlink in column A (right click, select ‘remove hyperlink'). Use autofill to reformat the content of the row from columns B to G.

As students create assessed evidence the relevant criterion can then be selected from the drop-down menus in their individual record. Clicking on the blue level button will calculate the student level and transfer this to the Class list worksheet.

Individual records allow teachers and students to see what areas have not been met and what is required for the next level. This may be a useful exercise allied to Resource 4.

Excel 2003 versus Excel 2007 onwards

A series of conditional formats are used in the workbooks. These are reduced in versions of Excel from 2003 and earlier. This does not affect overall functionality. When later versions of Excel are used, save the workbooks in that version to release the functionality.

Further resources

The QCDA provide guidance and links to third party sites.

The National Strategies have provided a range of curriculum guidance and publications for several years, including the following:

Background reading

Becta supported research into ICT across a range of topics. In particular the following publications focus on assessment and the use of technology to assess:

Futurelab is an innovative organization that commissions a range of projects and reports. Specific publications of interest include the following:

Copyright and use of resources

The original source of documents and references is recognised throughout the Resources section. Source materials may be used for educational purposes. Where materials are used outside of an educational context permission should be sought by originators.

Resource 1

The pdf, National curriculum ICT levels, is developed from the level descriptors published by the QCDA. They have a published statement of copyright and permitted use. Use is permitted, unaltered for non-commercial educational purposes, including in-house training.

Resource 3

The Excel workbook is published by Michael Jones. The intention of the work is that teachers and other educational professionals use this to aid and extend their understanding of the National Curriculum, the statutory programme of ICT and guidelines issued by The National Strategies.

Resource 4

The pdf document is developed from the National Curriculum level descriptors as published by The National Strategies. Copyright of original materials remains with them. Wording of the level descriptors should not be altered except to enhance understanding. The National Strategies provide further details on use of their materials.

Resource 5

The Excel workbooks are published by Michael Jones ( The intention of the work is that teachers and other educational professionals use this to aid and extend their understanding of assessment using APP criteria. The workbooks use password protected macros to perform calculations. The password will be provided to educational professionals on request. Alteration of the scripting is permitted where original copyright is acknowledged and is used for educational purposes only.

Background reading

The Year 7–9 framework learning objectives document is published by Michael Jones and developed from the ICT programme of study and APP materials published in separate documents. It serves to illustrate how the range of guidelines and statutory entitlements can be linked to assist with mapping and assessment.


Becta Accessed 7 October 2010
Futurelab Accessed 7 October 2010
Jones, M. (2010) ICT APP Calculator 1 Excel workbook’, Michael Jones
Jones, M. (2010)ICT APP Calculator 2 Excel workbook’, Michael Jones
Jones, M. (2010) ICT National Programme Excel workbook’, Michael Jones
National Curriculum Accessed 27 August 2010
The National Strategies Accessed 25 August 2010


Authors: Michael Jones

Reviewers: Terry Freedman, Pete Bradshaw

Editor: Matthew Driver