Within an individual school, the focus should be on using assessment at an individual level to inform target-setting for the pupil, the class and school. If teachers know how each child is performing, then it follows that strategies can be put in place to help each child improve.  This in turn informs improvement at class level and then at school level, thus allowing the school to set meaningful summative targets in its school development plan.  Assessment also provides valuable information that helps parents in understanding the disposition, needs and progress of their children. At a system level we need to know, in addition to overall performance, if there are any difficulties emerging in particular parts of any subject as these might shape policy interventions.  It also helps in developing policy and reviewing the effectiveness of existing education policies.

Assessment should:

  • reflect and support the central role of teachers in classrooms, helping pupils to fulfil their potential;
  • complement and support the key aims of the revised curriculum;
  • embrace the assessment of skills, knowledge and understanding;
  • have a clear and unambiguous focus on literacy and numeracy (and increasingly also on ICT);
  • be straightforward and fit for purpose in a way that does not divert professional time and resources away from the core business of teaching and learning and avoid creating perverse incentives; and
  • ensure there is appropriate accountability at all levels for the performance of our school system, particularly in relation to outcomes in literacy and numeracy.

More information on the Department’s assessment policy, including the purpose of assessments, key stage assessment and computer based assessment can be found on the DE website at:

Department of Education Assessment Policydeni.gov.uk