Thoughts on the Scottish Assessment Summit

Scottish Assessment Summit in Edinburgh on 11 September 2019

By Dougie Atkinson, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland)

On behalf of Voice, I attended the Scottish Government’s Scottish Assessment Summit at the John McIntyre Centre at Edinburgh University on 11 September 2019. The Summit brought together over 250 influencers in the Scottish education system to consider the role of assessment in Scottish schools and how it fits within the wider National Improvement Framework.

More specifically, a series of keynote speeches and workshop discussions considered how assessment contributes to the better delivery of the core values of Curriculum for Excellence and helps to narrow the attainment gap.

Sue Ellis, Professor of Education at Strathclyde University, and John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, both outlined to the audience their thoughts on assessment in Scotland and what part the new Scottish National Standardised Assessments play in providing a comprehensive evidence-based set of data that allows a better understanding of the performance of the system as a whole.

Mr Swinney remains vigorously against any attempt to derive league tables of any sort from the datasets that are published every December.

Curriculum for Excellence

The Summit delegates were also invited to think about assessment in the context of the refreshed statement on Curriculum for Excellence published this week by the Board for Curriculum for Excellence.  

This is a new resource which sets out Scotland’s approach, restating the long-standing central importance of the four capacities and the knowledge, skills and attributes that children and young people need in order that they thrive as democratic citizens, shaping an evermore interconnected, digital and rapidly changing world. It clearly defines curriculum, the four contexts for learning and what children and young people are entitled to.

It also highlights the role of individual empowered teachers and practitioners in making the decisions required to provide a coherent, flexible and enriched curriculum that adapts and responds to the needs of individual learners.

Significantly, the narrative also places considerable focus on how practitioners take the philosophy of CfE and translate it into meaningful practice. It sets out the processes involved in curriculum making, detailing a full range of considerations to be made and actions to be pursued in order to take the principles and big ideas of CfE and enact them successfully in schools, classrooms and other settings.  This new refreshed narrative is set to be debated widely over the autumn and assessment plays a crucial part in ensuring it delivers real improvements for Scottish learners.

Further information

More information can be found here.

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