Refocusing Assessment – a new resource for whole school assessment launched today!

A new resource – Refocusing Assessment – to support teachers and school leaders in developing a whole school assessment approach has been jointly published by three educational organisations. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), and the Schools, Students and Teachers network (SSAT), who together work with thousands of schools across the country, have launched the resource today.


The move from a single national assessment system (levels) to a more flexible, school-determined approach has provided new opportunities but has also created some uncertainty for schools.


ASCL, NFER and SSAT suggest that the most effective school assessment systems are those designed by practitioners to suit their particular context, and have provided Refocusing Assessment as a free resource to help schools do this.


The organisations worked with expert panels, made up of heads of department and representatives from key subject associations, to shape the resource and explore how assessment works best in different subject areas.


The resource also seeks to dispel some prevalent myths around school assessment including the idea that national curriculum levels are banned, teachers need to show expected progress and that assessment or ‘data-drops’ have to take place at least half-termly.


Suzanne O’Farrell, Curriculum and Assessment Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“This resource is unique in that it is created by teachers for teachers. It is a framework to support teachers which asks and answers key questions about assessment in the classroom, and ensures it becomes an effective tool to help pupils understand their learning and make progress.”

Reflecting on the resource, Alex Galvin, Senior Education Lead at SSAT, said:

“Although many schools have done amazing work on designing assessment systems over the past three years, it is clear that there is still a lot of uncertainty and that greater assessment literacy is needed in both initial teacher training and continuing professional learning. By coming together as a group of organisations, we hope this resource will help school and subject leaders reflect and reshape their assessment practices.”

Claire Hodgson, Research Director in NFER’s Centre for Assessment, added:

“We believe that assessments are important for effective teaching and learning and we work very closely with schools to help them achieve this. Discussions with the expert panels highlighted the good formative assessment strategies that already exist and Refocusing Assessment now gives us the opportunity to share examples of these valuable practices more widely. The aim of this resource is to engage schools in asking the right questions to ensure they have an assessment approach that works for them.”


This is a free resource for all schools made available by ASCL, NFER and SSAT. The resource, and additional subject resources are available here:

About ASCL

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) is a leading professional body representing more than 18,000 members, including education system leaders, heads, principals, deputies, vice-principals, assistant heads and business managers of state-funded and independent schools and colleges throughout the UK. ASCL members are responsible for the education of more than four million young people in more than 90 per cent of the secondary and tertiary phases, and in an increasing proportion of the primary phase. ASCL works to shape national education policy, provide advice and support to members and deliver first-class professional development across the sector.

About NFER

NFER is the leading independent provider of rigorous research and insights in education, working to create an excellent education for all children and young people. We are a charity, whose robust and innovative research, assessments and other services are widely known and used by key decision-makers. Any surplus generated is reinvested in projects to support our charitable purpose.; @TheNFER

About SSAT

SSAT’s work in helping transform education in England started in 1987. Back then our role was to support and nurture the first city technology colleges – the initiative that first proved the value of employers and schools working together to drive up standards. That work, underpinned by our ‘by schools, for schools’ ethos, laid the foundations for many of our activities today…the innovative leadership and teacher CPD programmes, the commitment to thought leadership and research and, of course, the network of school leaders and innovative teachers which still drives all that we do. Over this time, SSAT raised over £350 million of sponsorship for schools. For twenty-five years our work was largely government-funded. In 2012 we changed our status. As a new limited company we remain committed as ever to changing education by encouraging innovation and collaboration between schools.


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