Supporting learner progression: assessment guidance
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Learner progression along a continuum of learning from ages 3 to 16 is central to Curriculum for Wales. Assessment plays a fundamental role in enabling each individual learner to make progress at an appropriate pace, ensuring they are supported and challenged accordingly.
This guidance outlines the key principles and purpose of assessment, designed to support learner progression. It provides details to schools and settings – providers of funded non-maintained nursery education (FNNE), pupil referral units (PRUs), other education other than at school (EOTAS) providers – of the matters to which they must have regard to when making, implementing, reviewing and revising assessment arrangements and classroom practice integral to their curriculum.
This guidance covers key processes needed for effective learner progression, namely:
- developing a shared understanding of progression
- transition along the 3 to 16 continuum
- communicating and engaging with parents and carers
This guidance has been developed to take the needs of all learners into account and recognises that their identity, language, ability, background and prior learning, as well as the support they may need, will differ according to their particular circumstances.
The guidance is published pursuant to section 71 of the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021. The following must have regard to the guidance when making arrangements for assessing children and pupils:
- the head teacher and the governing body of a maintained school or a maintained nursery school
- a provider of FNNE
- the teacher in charge and a management committee for a PRU
- a person who provides non-PRU EOTAS under section 19A of the Education Act 1996
- a local authority in Wales
How to use this guidance
Assessment is a fundamental part of Curriculum for Wales and is integral to the process of learning. Where reference is made within this guidance to curriculum, learning and teaching or planning for learning, assessment is implicit.
This statutory guidance should be read in conjunction with the rest of the Curriculum for Wales guidance on curriculum design and implementation.
When making, implementing, reviewing and revising assessment arrangements and classroom practice, those responsible should adopt the principles set out in this guidance and must have regard to its contents to support progression. This guidance should be used as a basis for professional discussions and learning within and between schools and settings, to support self-improvement and to bring consistency across schools and settings. It will be important for all practitioners to familiarise themselves with the detail. It should be read alongside any supporting guidance and supplementary information on the key processes needed for effective learner progression, published in parallel with the legislation in summer 2022.
Providers of funded non-maintained nursery education are not expected to design their own assessment arrangements. If they have chosen to adopt the curriculum provided by Welsh Ministers, assessment arrangements will be made available to be used alongside it. The draft guidance on assessment arrangements to support the Welsh Ministers’ curriculum was made available on 1 September 2022.
When implementing their assessment arrangements, their own or those provided by Welsh Ministers, providers of funded non-maintained nursery education (FNNE) will, have to have regard to this guidance.
For ease, links to the relevant sections of this guidance will be provided in the Welsh Ministers’ assessment arrangements guidance for funded non-maintained nursery settings.
Legal requirements for assessment
The statutory requirements for schools, EOTAS including PRUs, and FNNE in respect of assessment arrangements can be found in the summary of legislation section of the Curriculum for Wales guidance.
Key principles and purpose of assessment
The purpose of assessment
Assessment is intrinsic to curriculum design and its overarching purpose within the curriculum is to support every learner to make progress. It is integral to learning and teaching and it requires effective partnerships among all those involved, including the learner.
Assessment plays a fundamental role in ensuring each individual learner is supported and challenged accordingly. It should contribute to developing a holistic picture of the learner – their strengths, the ways in which they learn, and their areas for development, in order to inform next steps in learning and teaching. Assessment should not be used to make a one-off judgement on the overall achievement of a learner at a set age or point in time against descriptors or criteria on a best-fit basis.
Assessment has three main roles in the process of enabling learner progression:
- supporting individual learners on an ongoing, day-to-day basis
- identifying, capturing and reflecting on individual learner progress over time
- understanding group progress in order to reflect on practice.
When planning and delivering learning experiences, practitioners should be clear about the specific role of each assessment being undertaken, and what the understanding gained from assessment will be used for and why.
Supporting individual learners on an ongoing, day-to-day basis
Assessment should focus on identifying each individual learner’s strengths, achievements, areas for improvement and, where relevant, barriers to learning. This understanding should be used by the practitioner, in discussion with the learner, to ascertain the next steps required to move learning forward, including any additional challenge and support required. This should be achieved by embedding assessment into day-to-day practice in a way that engages the learner and makes it indistinguishable from learning. This allows the practitioner to respond to the individual needs of the full range of learners within their classroom on an ongoing basis.
Identifying, capturing and reflecting on individual learner progress over time
Assessment should support practitioners in identifying the progress being made by an individual learner, and recording this, where appropriate, to understand the learner’s journey over different periods of time and in a variety of ways. This includes developing an understanding of how a learner has learned, as well as what they have learned and are able to demonstrate. Reflecting on a learner’s progress over time will enable practitioners to provide feedback and help plan their future learning, including any interventions, additional support or challenge that may be required. This should include both immediate next steps and longer-term objectives and goals that the learner should work towards to help keep them moving forward in their learning. It can also be used as a basis for communicating and engaging with parents and carers.
Understanding group progress in order to reflect on practice
Assessment should also enable practitioners and leaders within the schools, and, where appropriate, in settings, to understand to what extent and in what ways different groups of learners are making appropriate progress. Information that flows from assessing learner progress should be used to identify strengths and areas for improvement in both the curriculum and daily practice, including consideration of how the needs of learners as individuals have been met. This important focus is a means for schools and settings to ensure their curriculum, and the learning and teaching, helps raise the achievement of all and, in particular, the achievement and attainment of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. This focus does not relate to external reporting, but contributes to a school or setting’s understanding of what it needs to know and reflect on about its learners in order for them all to maximise their potential, as well as its identification of specific challenges and support that particular groups or individual learners might need. This understanding can contribute to processes of self-evaluation and continuous improvement.
Assessment for learners aged 14 to 16 including external qualifications
While this guidance focuses on supporting learner progression from ages 3 to 16 as an integral part of learning and teaching, assessment for the purposes of awarding external qualifications is different in nature, as these have a greater level of external control and prescription. As such, assessment for qualifications is separate to this guidance. However, when assessing to award external qualifications the approach will build on the principles of Curriculum for Wales.
For learners aged 14 to 16, the principles of assessment and statutory requirements outlined in this guidance will continue to apply to day-to-day learning and teaching as part of a school or setting’s curriculum. These assessment arrangements must continue to focus on understanding and supporting the progress made by these learners across the full breadth of the curriculum, and not just those aspects they are taking qualifications in.
By supporting learners to understand their strengths, areas for improvement and next steps, assessment can help learners prepare for their external qualifications including making informed choices about the qualifications they take.
Qualifications Wales is working with stakeholders to co-construct a coherent and inclusive choice of bilingual qualifications for schools that aligns to Curriculum for Wales and meets the needs of all learners. They will explore how the aims, content and assessment of qualifications can be designed to support the Curriculum for Wales Framework, including the principles of assessment outlined in this guidance. This work will focus on re-imagining a new generation of GCSEs and reshaping the wider qualifications offer for learners aged 14 to 16. More information can be found online.
Evaluation, improvement and accountability arrangements and assessment
This guidance concerns assessment, which is focused on supporting learner progression. Evaluation, improvement and accountability arrangements within the education system are separate to assessment arrangements but historically have been seen to influence how assessment is perceived and how it is undertaken. We are therefore introducing a new framework for evaluation, improvement and accountability so that they support the realisation of Curriculum for Wales.
The framework for evaluation, improvement and accountability aims to drive behaviours which positively support and enable our vision for curriculum and assessment, giving practitioners and school leaders the confidence to learn and improve their practice continually to best support learner progression. Self-reflective behaviors nurtured in a supportive and collaborative environment, underpinned throughout the education system, will raise standards and support every young person to fulfill their potential.
Effective self-evaluation will involve schools and settings reflecting on their approaches to planning, developing and implementing curriculum and assessment arrangements, to ensure they are supporting learner progression. Assessment should not be carried out for the purpose of accountability. However, information that flows from assessing learner progress can contribute to the evidence of learner progress in a school, both its extent and pace, and will be used to support the professional dialogue needed to underpin self-evaluation processes. Dialogue informed by the information that flows from assessing learner progress can help build a shared understanding of progression within and across schools to ensure progress is being made at an appropriate pace and learning and teaching is providing appropriate challenge and support for all learners. Identified improvements should then, in turn, be reflected in daily practice.
Governing bodies have a responsibility to support the head teacher and to provide appropriate challenge across the breadth of the schools’ activities. Estyn also have a duty to inspect in accordance with the legislation. They both must therefore be able to consider whether assessment arrangements are delivering the required purpose, to support learner progression, and to evaluate whether schools are using the assessment information, as part of their evaluation and improvement processes, in the right way to improve effectiveness. However, Estyn and Governing Bodies, as well as local authorities and regional consortia, should not use assessment information as a proxy for standards in school, or to rank and compare schools.
Who needs to engage in the assessment process?
Active engagement between the learner and practitioner on a regular basis is at the heart of supporting learner progression. To be truly effective all those involved with a learner’s journey need to collaborate and work together. The foundation for this engagement and partnership is establishing:
- where learners are in their learning
- where they need to go in their learning
- what needs to be done for them to get there, taking account of any barriers to their learning
Schools and settings must design and/or adopt a curriculum that enables learners to realise the four purposes, providing for appropriate progression for all learners. Therefore, supporting learner progression is a requirement for all maintained schools and settings. To fully support progression along the 3 to16 continuum, schools and settings should work collaboratively in their clusters and across wider networks.
The main participants in the learning process are leaders, practitioners, learners, parents, carers and external partners. More information on each of these main participants is detailed below.
The role of leaders is to establish a strong learning culture that supports and challenges practitioners to enable learners to make appropriate progress. This should be achieved through:
- creating a clear vision for a curriculum that supports learners’ realisation of the four purposes and supports individual learner progression
- creating an environment that develops the necessary knowledge and skills to promote learner wellbeing
- creating an environment based on mutual trust and respect, rather than one focused on compliance and reporting
- enabling practitioners to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out their role in assessment effectively
- ensuring the design, adoption, review and revision of a curriculum that affords opportunities for practitioners to plan purposeful learning that addresses the needs of each learner
- developing and embedding processes and structures that enable practitioners to develop a shared understanding of progression
- ensuring there is a clear picture of learner progression within the school or setting that is understood by all practitioners, a process that embeds regular ongoing professional dialogue on progression into their systems to support self-reflection and inform improvement
- ensuring there is a clear understanding of learner progression across schools and, where appropriate, settings, that feeds into discussions on learner progression within the school or setting
- considering how additional challenge and support for the learner can be best provided, including working with other partners
- encouraging engagement between all participants in the learning and teaching process in order to develop effective partnerships
- ensuring that the statutory requirements have been met and that due regard has been paid to this guidance for assessment, and that practitioners are taking account of this in planning, learning and teaching and within daily practice
The role of the practitioner is to plan for and provide effective learning experiences that are appropriate to the age and development of each individual learner. They should enable learners to appreciate where they are in their learning, where they need to go next and how they will get there. Practitioners should support and challenge learners effectively to ensure they each make progress. This should be achieved through:
- being clear about the intended learning, and planning engaging learning experiences accordingly
- supporting the promotion of learner well-being through assessment practice
- sharing intended learning appropriately with learners
- evaluating learning, including through observation, questioning and discussion
- using the information gained from ongoing assessment to reflect on own practice to inform next steps in teaching and planning for learning
- providing relevant and focused feedback that actively engages learners, encourages them to take responsibility for their learning, and moves their learning forward
- encouraging learners to reflect on their progress and, where appropriate, to consider how they have developed, what learning processes they have undertaken and what they have achieved
- providing opportunities for learners to engage in assessing their own work and that of their peers, and supporting them to develop the relevant skills to do this effectively
- developing learners’ skills in making effective use of a range of feedback to move their learning forward
- involving parents and carers in learner development and progression, with the learner’s involvement in this dialogue increasing over time
- engaging in dialogue with leaders and fellow practitioners to ensure they have a clear picture of the progress being made within their school
- identifying any additional challenge or support learners may require, engaging with external partners where necessary
The role of the learner is to participate in and contribute to the learning process in a way that is appropriate to their age and stage of development. This will help learners to develop knowledge, skills and understanding, and to apply them in different contexts. As they make progress along the continuum with increasing independence, learners should be supported and encouraged to:
- understand where they are in their learning and where they need to go next
- develop an understanding of how they will get there
- respond actively to feedback on their learning, and develop positive attitudes towards receiving, responding to and acting upon feedback in their learning
- review their progression in learning and articulate this both individually and with others
- reflect on their learning journey and develop responsibility for their own learning over time
Parents, carers and external partners
Parents, carers and external partners have an important role to play and schools and settings should engage with them so that they can support learner progression in an appropriate way.
Schools and settings should encourage and enable parents and carers to:
- engage regularly with the school or setting and its practitioners in order to understand and support their child’s progression in learning
- share relevant knowledge and understanding with the school or setting and its practitioners, which will support their child’s learning and progression
- respond actively to information provided about their child’s learning and, in collaboration with the school or setting, plan ways of supporting that learning within and outside the school or setting
Schools and settings should engage external partners to:
- help practitioners assess and identify the needs of learners who may require additional support and then help them through the provision of advice and support. This may include specialist educational support and support from other agencies (for example health services)
- provide information about learning progression that has taken place and been assessed in other contexts (for example for learners in joint placements between a school and another setting)
Curriculum design: making and implementing assessment arrangements
The principles of progression and the descriptions of learning, articulated in the Curriculum for Wales guidance, are intended to guide curriculum design and learning and teaching, with assessment arrangements and classroom practice being an integral part of both.
Working within the Curriculum for Wales framework, overall assessment arrangements at a school or setting level are a matter for individual schools and settings to determine as they design their own curriculum. They must be appropriate for the needs of all their learners and should be made and implemented in accordance with the following.
- These are the legal duties which must be undertaken by law. The duties for schools and settings are set out in the summary of legislation section of the Curriculum for Wales guidance.
These include the key principles and purpose of assessment as outlined in this guidance along with other statutory guidance published alongside subordinate legislation such as the guidance to Support Transition from Primary to Secondary schools.
School or setting design
- This refers to particular elements, in addition to the above, that each school or setting may choose to develop and implement in their own context to support assessment practice. As part of this, schools and settings should consider taking forward collaborative approaches through participation in clusters and wider networks.
Individual learner needs
- All assessment activity should challenge and support learners to make progress. Each school will choose specific means to implement practice that identifies and addresses any needs of individual learners for additional challenge or support.
There are a number of fundamental matters that schools and settings should consider when making assessment arrangements to support their curriculum and providing learning experiences in the classroom. These are as follows.
Breadth and depth
- Assessment must be an ongoing process that is embedded within day-to-day planning and practice as it is fundamental to the learning process.
- Progression in learning is a process of increasing depth, sophistication, engagement and learner control, rather than of covering a body of content. Progression is not linear and different learners are likely to progress in markedly different ways. Assessment planning and practice, built into the curriculum and classroom practice, should recognise this and allow for a variety of diversions, stops and variations in pace in a learner’s journey.
- Learners’ progression should be assessed in relation to the breadth of the school or setting’s curriculum, which is designed to reflect the principles of progression, and informed by the descriptions of learning. As such, practitioners should assess all learners across the 3 to 16 continuum based on the progression articulated in their school or setting’s curriculum and in their planned learning intentions. In doing so, they should take into account the diverse needs of individual learners across the breadth of the curriculum.
- At each progression step, schools and settings should not undertake specific assessment activities that are designed to make a judgement about a learner’s overall progression at a set age or point in time.
- The purpose of the descriptions of learning is to provide guidance on the direction and pace of progression in order to support practitioners and inform their curriculum design and learning and teaching. They are not a series of criteria to be directly assessed against, nor can they be assessed by discrete assessment tasks, independent of learning and teaching activities. Practitioners should use descriptions of learning to develop a wide range of assessment approaches that help determine whether and how progress is being made. Specific assessment approaches will depend on the knowledge, skills and experiences being developed and on the needs of learners.
- As part of the learning process, practitioners and learners should develop an understanding of how each learner learns and what their attitudes and approaches to learning are, in order to support their continuing progress and to foster commitment to their learning.
- At whatever point a learner enters a school or setting, practitioners should ensure they understand where they are in their learning and the progression they have made to date. This understanding should be supported by the on-entry assessment arrangements referenced within the Summary of Legislation, that schools and settings, subject to the exceptions, must carry out for each registered learner as they join a school or setting. This understanding should be used to identify the learner’s starting point and how the school or setting can best move learning forward. Where it is available, practitioners should take account of information provided by those who have previously supported the education of the learner. Proactively engaging in the sharing of information to support a learner’s onward journey will be important in this process.
- Assessment is key to supporting deep learning and should be used to identify whether a learner needs to consolidate learning, whether further support is needed and/or whether the learner can progress to the next steps in learning.
- Observational assessment should be used and practitioners should look for evidence of embedded learning to assess what a learner can do consistently and independently in a range of learning experiences. This should be informed by a good understanding of child development.
- Schools and settings should plan a range of assessment methods and techniques that are fit-for-purpose and support progression across the breadth of the curriculum. Some of these may be specific to individual areas of learning and experience (Areas), some may apply across more than one Area and others may be specific to learners with additional needs.
- As learners progress along the 3 to 16 continuum, they should engage more directly in the assessment process. Practitioners should provide opportunities for learners to undertake peer assessment and self-assessment, supporting them to develop these skills in a way which is appropriate to the developmental stage of each learner.
- Assessment methods and techniques should be selected, and adapted where appropriate, according to the needs of the learner. This should take into account their developmental stage and any barriers to learning, ensuring that each learner is able to demonstrate progress in line with their individual ability.
- Statutory online personalised assessments are part of the wider assessment arrangements and are designed to help the practitioner and learner understand how a learner’s reading and numeracy skills are developing and what the next steps should be. The assessments must be taken annually in line with the statutory guidance provided in the Personalised Assessments: Administration Handbook. The assessments are available for flexible use throughout the year and provide a range of feedback on the skills of individuals and groups which should be used to support planning for progression. Online personalised assessments are designed to support learning and teaching and are not to be used for the purpose of external accountability.
Recording learner progress
When designing their curriculum, schools and settings should consider what information that flows from assessing learner progress needs to be gathered and recorded in order to illustrate and record progress in learning, along with when this should take place and in what level of detail. The principles of progression can provide schools and setting with an organising framework and shared focus for the type of information that may be relevant – that is, information that reflects:
- Increasing effectiveness as a learner
- Increasing breadth and depth of knowledge
- Deepening understanding of the ideas and disciplines within Areas
- Refinement and growing sophistication in the use and application of skills
- Making connections and transferring learning into new contexts
School head teachers, teachers in charge of a unit, local authorities in relation to EOTAS other than in PRUs, and providers of FNNE should ensure that the information gathered on learner progression is proportionate and is used within the school or setting to directly support learner progression and inform teaching. This will also support a school’s self-evaluation processes, but should not be used for the purposes of external accountability. It may be drawn upon to:
- inform communications and engagement activity with parents and carers
- support the transition of learners along the 3 to 16 continuum
- help practitioners and leaders develop their understanding of progression
- review and revise the curriculum and corresponding assessment arrangements
- inform future learning and teaching
- identify where improvement and support are needed as part of the school or setting’s self-evaluation process
Schools will still need to maintain the educational and curricular record as required by the Pupil Information (Wales) Regulations 2011. These Regulations provide that “curricular record” means a formal record of a pupil's academic achievements, the pupil's other skills and abilities and his or her progress in school, as detailed in the Schedule to the Head Teacher's Report to Parents and Adult Pupils (Wales) Regulations 2011.
The Head Teacher Reporting Regulations are being phased out in accordance with the roll out of the new curriculum and the detail will then be set out in the Schedule to the Provision of Information by Head Teachers to Parents and Adult Pupils (Wales) Regulations 2022.
Supporting materials on curriculum design, progression and assessment can be found on Hwb.
Developing a shared understanding of progression
What is progression?
Progression in learning is a process of developing and improving in skills, knowledge and understanding over time. This focuses on understanding what it means to make progress in a given area or discipline as learners increase the depth, breadth and sophistication of their knowledge and understanding, skills and capacities, and attributes and dispositions. As they do so, they will make links across their learning and apply this in new and challenging contexts. This is key to enabling them to work towards realising the four purposes, as they progress through their school or settings and into different pathways beyond school.
Supporting learners to make progress is a fundamental driver of Curriculum for Wales and is the overarching purpose of assessment. Each school and setting’s curriculum must be designed to reflect the progression outlined in the principles of progression and drawing on the What Matters statements. The descriptions of learning provide further guidance for schools and settings in relation to the pace of progression across the 3-16 continuum of learning.
Understanding how learners progress is critical to the design of curriculum and assessment arrangements as well as classroom/setting planning and practice.
What is a ‘shared understanding of progression’?
Developing and maintaining a shared understanding of progression means that practitioners, collectively within their school or setting and with other schools and settings together explore, discuss and understand:
- their joint expectations for how learners should progress and how knowledge, skills and experiences should contribute to this in schools’ and settings’ curricula – drawing on the principles of progression, statements of what matters and descriptions of learning
- how to ensure coherent progression for learners throughout their learning journey and in particular at points of transition (for example, across and between primary and secondary school; across and between funded non-maintained nursery settings and primary schools, or schools and EOTAS providers; and from year to year within a school/setting)
- how their expectations for progression compare to those of other schools and settings, to ensure coherence and equity across the education system and a sufficient pace and challenge in their approach to progression in their curriculum and assessment arrangements.
A shared understanding of progression therefore is integral to curriculum design and improving learning and teaching and is essential to support every learner to progress.
There is a clear link between these discussions and transition arrangements both within and between schools and settings. This includes planning to support Year 6 learners’ transition to secondary school. In reality, some discussions between secondary schools and their feeder primary schools may contribute to both developing and maintaining a shared understanding of progression and supporting transition arrangements. However, when coming together to develop their understanding of progression, we envisage primary and secondary school practitioners will consider not only progression at Year 6 and Year 7 but the 3-16 continuum as a whole. For further information about transition, please see the next section of this guidance.
Why is a shared understanding of progression important for the curriculum?
Practitioners understanding the progress they want learners to make throughout their education, and how to put this into practice in a coherent way across their school and cluster, is vital to ensure:
- coherence – Curriculum for Wales provides schools and settings with flexibility within a national framework. Practitioners developing a shared understanding of progression at a school, setting or cluster level helps ensure learners’ experiences are joined-up, authentic and relevant, and also helps identify how to sequence learning effectively. This helps ensure that learners make continuous progress and supports them to progress over time. Discussions between schools and settings beyond the cluster helps support coherence across the education system, supporting equity in the provision for learners
- smooth transitions – a shared understanding across a school cluster ensures the best possible transitions within and between nursery schools and primary schools and primary and secondary school for learners, as institutions will understand what and how learners have been learning and will be learning and what their next steps in learning should be to support their education and well-being. For the same purpose, schools will engage with funded non-maintained nursery settings as well as PRUs and other EOTAS providers with whom they have relationships to support learner transition and dual registered learners.
- the pace and challenge of expectations – the process of developing a shared understanding enables practitioners and schools and settings to explore whether their expectations for learners are sufficiently challenging and realistic and whether any support is required by individuals, further supporting equity for all learners
How should schools and settings develop a shared understanding of progression?
Ongoing professional dialogue within and across schools and settings is central to building and maintaining this shared understanding of progression. This professional dialogue is important to:
- provide ongoing opportunities for practitioners to reflect on their understanding of progression and how it is articulated in their curriculum, thus feeding into their curriculum and assessment design, planning and self-evaluation and improvement processes
- provide ongoing opportunities for practitioners to compare their thinking to other similar schools and settings, providing a level of consistency of expectation while retaining local flexibility
- strengthen understanding of approaches and practice between schools and settings, including, where relevant, funded non-maintained nursery settings, PRUs and other EOTAS providers
To support this ongoing professional dialogue, all those participating in discussions should do so on an equal basis with practitioners sharing and reflecting on their own experiences of the learning process and of supporting learners to progress. This enables them to learn from each other in a supportive environment.
The focus of discussions regarding progression will naturally evolve over time as schools and settings move through the phases of curriculum design into first teaching and then ongoing review and improvement.
To reflect the importance of these discussions between practitioners, the leaders of all schools and settings in Wales are required to put arrangements in place to enable them to participate in professional dialogue for the purpose of developing and maintaining a shared understanding of progression.
The full detail of these requirements can be found here with supporting information provided below.
To develop and maintain a shared understanding of progression, the head teacher and governing body of a school must put arrangements in place to enable all practitioners involved in learning and teaching to participate in ongoing professional dialogue:
- within their school; and across their school cluster group(s). For a definition of school cluster group(s), please see the Direction.
- with practitioners in other schools beyond their cluster(s) to help ensure equity across the education system.
- in secondary schools, with practitioners from at least one other secondary school to support collaboration and coherence across the latter stages of the 3 to 16 continuum
- in special schools, with practitioners from other special schools.
The head teacher and governing body of a school must also put arrangements in place to:
- engage with the providers of funded non-maintained nursery education whereby learners transition from a setting to their school, inviting them to participate in ongoing professional dialogue
- engage with PRUs to which, or from which, they have learners transitioning and/or dual registered learners, inviting them to participate in ongoing professional dialogue
- engage with non-PRU EOTAS providers to which, or from which, they have learners transitioning and/or dual registered learners, inviting them to participate in ongoing professional dialogue.
In funded non-maintained nursery settings that deliver education
To support practitioners to develop and maintain a shared understanding of progression, leaders of funded non-maintained nursery settings must:
- put arrangements in place to enable all of those involved in learning and teaching to participate in professional dialogue progression within their setting
We also strongly advise them to participate in professional dialogue for the purpose of developing and maintaining a shared understanding of progression with schools into which their learners transition. It will be the school’s responsibility, however, to approach the setting to put these arrangements in place.
Where possible, practitioners from funded non-maintained nursery settings should also take every opportunity to engage with other funded non-maintained nursery settings and maintained nursery schools to develop and maintain their understanding of progression and share their experiences of supporting learner progression.
To develop and maintain a shared understanding of progression, the teacher in charge and management committee of a PRU, and the local authority that maintains it, must:
- put arrangements in place to enable all practitioners involved in learning and teaching to participate in ongoing professional dialogue within the setting
We strongly advise that PRUs participate in professional dialogue for the purpose of developing and maintaining a shared understanding of progression when approached by schools to which, or from which, they have learners transitioning and/or dual registered learners. We also recommend that PRUs build on any existing structures that may already be in place with schools, PRUs or other EOTAS to engage in discussions regarding progression.
In EOTAS other than PRUs
Local authorities fund EOTAS provision and are responsible for the curriculum and assessment arrangements for learners receiving EOTAS. Therefore, to develop and maintain a shared understanding of progression, local authorities must make arrangements to:
- support the persons employed, or otherwise engaged by it, to provide a curriculum for non-PRU EOTAS learners to come together to participate in on-going professional dialogue to develop and maintain a shared understanding of progression
- Support the same persons to have on-going professional dialogue with practitioners from relevant schools and settings to support dual-registered learners
- ensure that the providers they engage to deliver appropriate curricula for learners who receive EOTAS provision other than in a PRU also participate in on-going professional dialogue within their setting/organisation to develop and maintain a shared understanding of progression relating to the aspects of the curriculum that they provide
We recommend that local authorities encourage EOTAS providers to participate in discussions relating to progression when approached by a school to which, or from which, they have learners transitioning and/or dual registered learners. They also have a role in establishing processes which support the engagement and involvement of EOTAS settings with primary and secondary schools or PRUs with whom they have relationships due to the movement of learners between them.
Arrangements to enable professional dialogue between practitioners
It is for schools and settings to decide the nature of the arrangements they wish to put in place, ensuring that they are appropriate to their context.
Professional dialogue between practitioners within and across schools and settings must happen on an ongoing basis. However, decisions relating to the frequency of meetings and engagement opportunities lie with the school/setting leaders. These decisions should be guided by:
- a school/setting’s improvement priorities
- how practitioners’ understanding of progression is developing within their school/setting
- the manner in which their learners are making progress
In developing arrangements to enable professional dialogue between practitioners for the purpose of developing and maintaining a shared understanding of progression, we recommend that leaders begin by considering what relationships and structures are already in place within and across their schools/settings which can evolve, be adapted or improved. For further support, please see Annex 1.
It may also be appropriate for leaders to put arrangements in place which allows practitioners from their school/setting to participate in professional dialogue with representatives from various settings or sectors together for example, a primary school may wish to invite relevant funded non-maintained nursery settings to contribute to school cluster meetings or schools may meet through cross-cluster arrangements.
Setting out the arrangements in a plan
A school or setting must put in place a plan which:
- sets out the arrangements that enable practitioners to participate in professional dialogue to develop and maintain a shared understanding of progression
- outlines how the outcomes of this dialogue will inform future discussions, curriculum and assessment design and learning and teaching
- is kept under review and revisited regularly to ensure that the arrangements remain fit for purpose
School/setting leaders may wish to consider including information such as the following in their plan. These are only suggestions to support the planning process:
- The priorities for discussions across an academic term/school year, ensuring that progression across the full breadth of the curriculum is covered appropriately on an ongoing basis.
- A timetable for various meetings/engagement opportunities.
- An indication of most appropriate practitioners to contribute to the most relevant discussions in supporting learner progression (depending on the focus of the discussions under consideration).
- An outline of how the outcomes of these discussions will be captured to inform a school/setting’s self-evaluation processes and how their subsequent improvement priorities in turn help identify the areas for consideration during these conversations.
- An indication of how these discussions can support learner transition from year to year within a school/setting as well as between schools and settings)
- Identification of how internal discussions will inform wider discussions with other schools/settings as appropriate and vice versa.
This professional dialogue should inform self-evaluation, by supporting an understanding of where schools may want to improve their curriculum. This might help define future priorities for leadership, curriculum design, planning, learning and teaching.
Supporting professional dialogue – resources and materials
Schools and settings have flexibility on what specifically they wish to discuss as part of this professional dialogue. They may wish to consider the following areas as bases to support discussions to develop a shared understanding of progression.
Curriculum for Wales framework guidance
- To discuss their understanding and experience of developing progression, schools and settings can use the key questions set out in the 'Designing your curriculum' section of this guidance to frame discussions, as well as the guidance linked to the statements of what matters, descriptions of learning, and principles of progression.
Curriculum for Wales: the journey to curriculum roll-out
- This sets out the 3 phases that form the iterative process of curriculum design for schools and settings (engagement; designing, planning and trialling; and evaluation and preparing for first teaching). For each, the guidance offers detail to guide curriculum planning and key questions to consider, including on progression and assessment, which are likely to inform local professional dialogue.
National Network for Curriculum Implementation
- This will give practitioners the ability to come together nationally to discuss progression in Curriculum for Wales. It publishes the expert input, supporting materials, and outputs of these conversations on the National Network page on Hwb. These resources can be used to inform professional dialogue around progression.
CAMAU Assessing for the Future
- This resource is designed to engage practitioners in structured discussions to develop their understanding of learning progression and of the links between this and approaches to assessment. It takes the form of a series of six workshops, with support materials, designed to be used by groups of practitioners who will work as a community of enquiry to develop their understanding of progression across the curriculum and, thus, build their capacity in their own context to plan and use assessment approaches which support learning progression.
Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings
The curriculum published by Welsh Ministers is the starting point for discussions for funded non-maintained settings that choose to adopt it. For settings who have chosen to design and adopt their own curriculum the Enabling Learning guidance should be used as a starting point for discussions.
Assessment arrangements for funded non-maintained nursery settings
Draft assessment arrangements for funded non-maintained nursery settings were made available in summer 2022. The draft arrangements will support professional dialogue between leaders, practitioners, learners, parents, carers and external partners and will include:
- guidance to support settings in developing a shared understanding of progression
- guidance to support the on-going assessment of progression for learners in funded non-maintained nursery settings
- on-entry assessment arrangements for funded non-maintained nursery settings.
Final assessment arrangements will be published before September 2023.
Education other than at school guidance
- For those providing EOTAS education, including PRUs, the non-statutory guidance that forms part of designing your own curriculum, and the included questions for practitioner reflection, will be a starting point for discussions.
As schools and settings continue to develop their curriculum and assessment arrangements, they may wish to use these professional dialogue arrangements to share their thinking, approaches and examples.
Supporting professional dialogue – discussions beyond the school, setting and cluster(s)
Where possible, schools and settings should engage in professional dialogue beyond their cluster to help increase their understanding of progression. There will be opportunities for practitioners to engage in discussions on progression as part of:
- local or regional networks and support
- the National Network for Curriculum Implementation
- the CAMAU i'r Dyfodol project, a national research project designed to build capacity in understanding and developing progression from 3 to 16 across the curriculum in schools across Wales
The learning gained from such discussions at a regional and national level should feed back into processes at a local level. In turn, the outcomes of professional dialogue within the school, setting and/or cluster will provide valuable input into discussions at a regional and national level. This relationship at the local, regional, and national level will help bring coherence as schools and settings engage with and enact Curriculum for Wales and it evolves within schools and settings.
Local authorities and regional consortia have an important role in ensuring that all practitioners have an opportunity to participate in meaningful professional dialogue for the purposes of developing a shared understanding of progression. This role should be supportive, building upon the practices already established at school or setting and cluster level, and should not be about external accountability. They will also have an important role in helping to identify and share good practice.
Transition along the 3 to 16 continuum
The learner should be at the centre of the transition process. Effective transition is about supporting all learners along the learning continuum, as they move between different groups, different classes, different years and different settings. Ensuring the well-being of all learners should be an important and integral part of the process, recognising the needs of individuals, while also supporting both continuity and progression in their learning. The understanding a practitioner has of each individual learner, gained from assessment, is essential in supporting this process.
When schools and settings design and review their curriculum, they should consider what arrangements can be put in place to ensure effective transition. This includes developing and embedding a robust and effective process for the transition of learners along the 3 to 16 continuum. This should be an ongoing process that recognises the diverse needs of all learners and supports each individual in their learning journey. Consideration should also be given to any curriculum and assessment planning that takes place across the cluster.
To support this process:
- primary schools should engage with leaders of funded non-maintained nursery settings
- primary and secondary schools should engage with each other
- primary and secondary schools should engage with leaders of PRUs
Transition planning for Year 6 learners
Moving from primary to secondary school is a key milestone in a learner’s journey, and being properly supported to make this transition is important for all learners. Equally, continuity of learning to support progression for learners is crucial at this stage in a learner’s journey.
Head teachers and governing bodies of secondary schools and their feeder primary schools must work together to plan to support learner progression, with a focus on effective communication between practitioners, learners and their parents and carers. Details of the statutory requirements for the production of transition plans to support the transition process can be found in the summary of legislation section of the Curriculum for Wales guidance. Further detailed guidance on the production of Transition Plans can be found here and supporting materials on transition in practice here.
Information shared as part of the transition process should focus on the overall needs and well-being of the learner. A clear, holistic picture of the learner’s progression across the school curriculum should be provided to support their continuing journey along the continuum of learning. This should be provided alongside the history of any additional challenge or support provided.
Secondary schools are also encouraged to engage with leaders of post-16 settings, for example, further education institutions.
Learners should be involved in the transition process to provide insight into what motivates them, what their preferences are, how they learn, what barriers there may be to their learning, and what their strengths and areas for development are, as well as to suggest potential next steps.
Communicating and engaging with parents and carers
Communicating effectively with parents and carers on an ongoing basis is an important way to foster positive relationships in order to engage them in purposeful and meaningful dialogue. When undertaken well, this can aid learner progression by helping parents and carers to understand how they can support learning within and outside the school environment creating a bridge between school or setting and home. Effective engagement with parents and career can also provide assurances to parents in respect of their learner’s progress, the realisation of the curriculum and the support being offered to learners. Consideration should also be given to other people who are important for a learner, such as their advocate or social worker.
Schools and settings should develop and implement processes to support effective two-way communication and engagement with parents and carers. When developing these processes, consideration should be given to using a wide variety of different communication means, for example, face-to-face, digital or written.
Sharing Information with Parents and Carers
The statutory requirements for sharing information with parents and carers can be found in the summary of legislation section of the Curriculum for Wales guidance.
In terms of individual learner information, schools and settings must share information with parents and carers about:
- the progress their child is making
- their future progression needs
- how future progression needs can be supported at home
- their general well-being in school
Sharing individual learner information with parents and carers must be done at least termly and need not be contained in large written reports but fed back in the best format determined by the head teacher. This should be in an accessible manner which both maximises parents and carers engagement and understanding.
A summary of individual learner information should be provided annually, the timing and format of which will be determined by the head teacher but which best supports the learner’s progress. The information provided should not contain descriptions of the topics and learning activities the learner has undertaken, unless this is to provide context, but should focus on the progression itself and the individual needs and support of the learner.
It is important that information and feedback can be easily understood by its intended audience – it should be concise and jargon-free. The principles of progression can offer schools an organising framework and shared narrative for their communications with parents and carers.
While the provision of personalised assessment reports to parents and carers is a statutory requirement, this is only a small element of what may be provided and should be considered in the context of the wider communication and engagement process with parents and carers.
Information on any support, interventions or additional needs required for the learner’s development should also be shared.
Head teachers should ensure that learners are provided with opportunities to contribute to the communication process. Where possible, learners should be enabled to gather examples of their learning, articulate their own progress and achievements, and convey their aspirations and views on the next steps in their learning. Ideally this should be a three-way communication process between the learner, their parents, carers and practitioners.
Annex 1 - Shared understanding of progression: key considerations for practically enabling discussions
School and setting leaders are best placed to develop the most appropriate arrangements to enable practitioners to participate in professional dialogue for the purpose of developing a shared understanding of progression. In doing so, they should build on structures and relationships that are already in place.
Leaders may wish to consider the questions below in doing this.
Existing arrangements and relationships
- What structures and arrangements do you already have within your school or setting? These could include regular whole staff meetings, departmental meetings and cross-department groups.
- How could these evolve, be adapted or be improved to enable practitioners to come together to discuss progression?
- What relationships do you already have that could support professional dialogue about progression between schools and settings? These should include established cluster working but also school networks, relationships with relevant funded non-maintained nursery settings, PRUs and EOTAS providers.
- How could you work together to improve current arrangements and ways of working to support these discussions?
- How will you ensure that the discussions within a school or setting can feed into dialogue across schools and settings and vice versa and that these have a positive impact on planning, learning and teaching? What practical arrangements might be needed to enable this?
Establishing new relationships (as appropriate)
- Having read this guidance, what other schools or settings do you feel it would be helpful to start building relationships with to discuss progression? What practical support might you need in doing this?
Identifying opportunities at regional and national levels
- Is your school or setting involved in relevant national network conversations? How can learning gained through these conversations feed back into discussions within the school or setting?
- Has your school or setting accessed the CAMAU Assessing for the Future (AFTF) workshops and if so, how might these be used to discuss progression and the links between this and approaches to assessment.
- If your school/setting would benefit from further support when accessing the Camau AFTF workshops, your relevant consortia/partnership contact can be found.
- What further support and opportunities for discussion are available to the school or setting through local and regional networks and how might these be used to discuss progression?
Feeding into the school or setting’s wider processes
- How might the outcomes of discussions within and between schools and settings feed into the school or setting’s curriculum and assessment design and self-evaluation processes?