5.1: What you will learn, and video introduction to the Block

5.1a: What you will learn

Time allocation

5 minutes (10 minutes with video)


  • Look over the statements covered in this Block.
  • Watch the video, which introduces what you will learn in this Block and why it is important.
  • Take your reflections, and any questions you have, to discuss in your first mentor session.

In this Block, you will learn the following:

Learn that
4.6 Questioning is an essential tool for teachers; questions can be used for many purposes, including to check pupils’ prior knowledge, assess understanding and break down problems.
4.7 High quality classroom talk can support pupils to articulate key ideas, consolidate understanding and extend their vocabulary.
6.1 Effective assessment is critical to teaching because it provides teachers with information about pupils’ understanding and needs.
6.2 Good assessment helps teachers avoid being over-influenced by potentially misleading factors, such as how busy pupils appear.
6.3 Before using any assessment, teachers should be clear about the decision it will be used to support and be able to justify its use.
6.4 To be of value, teachers use information from assessments to inform the decisions they make; in turn, pupils must be able to act on feedback for it to have an effect.
6.5 High quality feedback can be written or verbal; it is likely to be accurate and clear, encourage further effort, and provide specific guidance on how to improve.
Learn how to
Stimulate pupil thinking and check for understanding, by:
4m Including a range of types of questions in class discussions to extend and challenge pupils (e.g. by modelling new vocabulary or asking pupils to justify answers).
4n Providing appropriate wait time between question and response where more developed responses are required.
4p Providing scaffolds for pupil talk to increase the focus and rigour of dialogue.
Develop an understanding of different pupil needs, by:
5b Making use of formative assessment.
Meet individual needs without creating unnecessary workload, by:
5k Reframing questions to provide greater scaffolding or greater stretch.
Avoid common assessment pitfalls, by:
6a Planning formative assessment tasks linked to lesson objectives and thinking ahead about what would indicate understanding (e.g. by using hinge questions to pinpoint knowledge gaps).
6b Drawing conclusions about what pupils have learned by looking at patterns of performance over a number of assessments (e.g. appreciating that assessments draw inferences about learning from performance).
6c Choosing, where possible, externally validated materials, used in controlled conditions when required to make summative assessments.
Check prior knowledge and understanding during lessons, by:
6d Using assessments to check for prior knowledge and pre-existing misconceptions.
6e Structuring tasks and questions to enable the identification of knowledge gaps and misconceptions (e.g. by using common misconceptions within multiple-choice questions).
6f Prompting pupils to elaborate when responding to questioning to check that a correct answer stems from secure understanding.
6g Monitoring pupil work during lessons, including checking for misconceptions.
Provide high-quality feedback, by:
6h Focusing on specific actions for pupils and providing time for pupils to respond to feedback.
6n Using verbal feedback during lessons in place of written feedback after lessons where possible.

5.1b: Video introduction to the Block

Time allocation

5 minutes (10 minutes with 5.1a)


Watch the video. The video outlines what you will cover in this Block.

Video transcript

Assessment is a really important, ongoing process of finding out what your pupils know and can do, where there are gaps and crucially what they and you need to do next to progress their learning.

You won’t find a teacher in England that tells you that they’re not using assessment to find out what their pupils are learning – this is known as formative assessment. But are they doing it well? What does it even mean to do assessment well? Why is feedback so important as part of the assessment cycle? How often and how detailed should your assessments and feedback be?

Get it right and assessment and feedback can be a teacher’s best friend. Formative assessment is one of the things research is most certain will improve learning, especially when combined with high-quality feedback. Get it wrong and it can be the bane of your life. Bad assessment practices are both pointless and time-consuming. It is easy to spend huge amounts of time setting and marking assessment that doesn’t tell you much. Equally, if you fail to deliver the feedback in a useful way it might not make any difference to pupil progress.

This Block will support you to establish what effective assessment and feedback practices are.

When assessment is used well, it gives you critical information about what pupils are learning, what they understand and what additional support they need. For an assessment to be effective, it is important to be clear about the reasons you are assessing a pupil at any particular point. To do this, you need to develop an understanding of what good assessment looks like.

Assessment can easily become onerous and have a disproportionate impact on your workload. To avoid this, it is important to work with colleagues to identify efficient approaches to assessment. Good questioning in the classroom is also an easy and efficient way to assess learning. During this Block, we will provide you with ideas on how to do this in a practical way to ease the load.

Just as you need the information from assessments to support you to adapt and improve your teaching, pupils need information from you in the form of feedback to help them improve their work. Within this Block we will explore what this looks like in practice, drawing on key evidence from research about what makes feedback effective in improving learning outcomes.

You may be feeling as though assessment and feedback is a demanding aspect of your teaching role, but through this Block you will understand that mastering assessment and feedback is the foundation of excellent teaching. When you know exactly where your pupils are in relation to where you want them to be, you can make informed decisions about how to adapt your teaching, what feedback to give pupils and what to plan next so that pupils improve more rapidly than they would otherwise.

There has been a lot written about the impact of assessment and feedback on workload in recent years, with a major benefit that we know more now than we ever have about which techniques are effective and sustainable for classroom teachers. This Block draws on all of this research to develop your practice.