Dawn Giblin

Primary Teacher

Langloan Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

The Use of Traffic Lights to Help Children Identify Success


Assessment is an integral part of education. As stated in Building the Curriculum 5 (Scottish Government, 2011), “The active involvement of children and young people in assessment is essential to ensure they have a well-developed sense of ownership of their learning and help one another.”

Since the concept of “Assessment for Learning” was introduced in 1999 by the Assessment Reform Group, these principles have been central to the Scottish National Framework “A Curriculum for Excellence”. The idea of where the learner is going, how they are learning and their next steps underpins good practice in schools today. Building the curriculum 5 (Scottish Government, 2011) states “Children and young people can develop their confidence through thinking about and reflecting on their own learning.”

Peer assessment and self assessment are both useful, once the time has been invested in teaching these essential skills. The ability to reflect on one’s own work is beneficial to students, and can help them to develop an understanding of learning objectives and success criteria. All of these strategies require a supportive learning environment in which errors are viewed as learning opportunities, “to engage in self-reflection and to identify the next steps in their learning” (Assessment for Learning: 10 Principles, 2002)

However, Black and Wiliam detail a range of strategies in which formative assessment may be improved. It is claimed that small changes in the way formative assessment is used can increase understanding and learning and therefore ultimately, attainment. As explained, in Inside the black box (Black, 1998) such improvements could be made to the way formative assessment is used and these changes could have a positive impact on learning.

If teaching interventions such as the effective use of formative assessment techniques could have a positive impact on attainment, this could contribute to addressing the inequality found in Scottish schools today. When children from disadvantaged backgrounds are already 10 – 13 months developmentally behind their more advantaged peers at the start of their school life. (Sosu, 2014)

The purpose of this practitioner enquiry was to investigate how the children use traffic lights and if the use of traffic lights as a means of self-assessment improves performance and aids learning.


To evaluate if self-assessment is an effective tool for children in order for them to assess their own learning.

Specifically, if the use of traffic lights is effective in helping children lead their own learning.

Download Practitioner Enquiry