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Assessment within Curriculum for Wales – Supporting Learner Progression

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

Assessment image for blog.jpgFollowing the publication of the initial assessment proposals in April 2019, a significant amount of feedback was received. Many were supportive of our direction of travel but there was a call for greater clarification on some aspects. The feedback was invaluable in helping us further shape our thinking on assessment and has resulted in updated guidance which truly reflects the culture change we plan to achieve with Curriculum for Wales. The Assessment Advisory Group has been at the heart of this process, with membership including: practitioners, academics and representatives from Regional Consortia, Estyn and Qualifications Wales.

In January 2020, we will be publishing guidance to support schools and settings as they start to think about how they will about plan, design and implement their new school curriculum – assessment will be a fundamental part of this. This blog post outlines some of the key messages in relation to assessment, giving you an indication of what you can expect to see in January.

The purpose of assessment

Currently, we refer to formative and summative assessment in professional discussions and guidance documents. However, when considering your feedback and after further discussions with practitioners and experts we have realised that such terms can lead to an unhelpful dichotomy. In the guidance published in January, therefore, we will be focussing on the purpose of assessment which is to support the progression of each individual learner in relation to the 3-16 continuum. With this purpose in mind, we have identified three main roles for assessment:

  1. Supporting individual learners on an ongoing, day to day basis
  2. Identifying, capturing and reflecting on individual learner progress over time
  3. Understanding group progress in order to reflect on practice

 School assessment arrangements

We are moving away from our current system where judgements are made on the overall attainment of a learner in a subject at a specific point in time, through the allocation of a level on a ‘best-fit’ basis. Within Curriculum for Wales, there will no longer be phases and key stages, and therefore the end of foundation phase and key stage assessments will be removed. The focus will be on continuous assessment with learners being assessed in relation to the progression articulated in their school curriculum. This means that when schools design their curriculum, they will also develop appropriate assessment arrangements to support their learners to progress.

Ensuring a shared understanding of progression

Moderation as we currently know it will no longer be undertaken by schools. Instead, we are introducing a new process for developing a shared understanding of progression both within and across schools, including expectations around what progression may look like and the pace at which learners may progress.

Transition along the 3-16 continuum

Currently transition processes focus primarily on the learners moving from primary to secondary schools. We will be emphasising the importance of a broader approach to transition, supporting learners along the learning continuum, as they move between different groups, different classes, different years and different settings.

Communicating and engaging with parents/carers

Communicating and engaging with parents/carers is seen as an ongoing, two way process that should happen throughout the academic year. We emphasise in our guidance that a formal report is only one means of communicating with parents/carers and should form part of a process that enhances learner progression by helping parents/carers to understand how they can support learning within and outside of the school environment.


Having considered the feedback received in relation to e-portfolios, we feel that it is essential to provide flexibility for schools to develop and make use of e-portfolios in a way that’s appropriate to their curricula and context. Rather than developing one e-portfolio system for all schools, we intend to make available a series of templates that schools can choose to use, adapt, or further develop as they see fit, with the aim of supporting learners in taking ownership of their journey towards the four purposes.

Work will begin in early 2020 to develop draft templates which will be made available to schools later in the year.

Looking forward from January

Once the assessment guidance has been published in January, we will be focusing on developing further supporting guidance, exemplification materials and Professional Learning to support the effective implementation of assessment to support learner progression.


The Assessment Team, Welsh Government


  1. James Jones on

    When can we start moving away from moderation dictating teaching and learning and focus on formative progressive assessments instead? Moderation and best fit levels are stifling any creativity currently.
    Advise please we can’t wait for it to stop holding us back.

    • derekeditor on

      Hi James, the assessment guidance makes it clear that the purpose of assessment within Curriculum for Wales is to support individual learner progression. We are moving away from the current ‘best fit’ use of levels. In the guidance, we emphasise that assessment should contribute to developing a holistic picture of the learner – including their strengths, areas for development and next steps in learning. Moderation as we currently know it will no longer be undertaken by schools. Instead, we are introducing a new, broader process with an emphasis on professional dialogue in order to develop a shared understanding of progression both within and across schools. Regards, the Assessment team.

  2. Sian on

    Will we be required to continue moderation activities across clusters during this academic year?

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