Hayley Devoy

Primary Teacher

St. Augustine's Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

What Happens When Children Set the Success Criteria?


As stated within the National Improvement Framework (Education Scotland, 2019), the Scottish Government aim to develop an ‘empowered’ system where everyone works collaboratively, ensuring contributions are valued and heard. Furthermore, by ensuring a child-centred approach is fostered within the practice of education professionals, the Scottish Government strive to improve the outcomes for children and young people. This is achieved through use of the Getting it Right for Every Child (Scottish Executive, 2006) approach, where the child is at heart of decision-making, and thus, ensuring all needs are met. Pupil participation is one method in which the GIRFEC approach can be achieved. The How Good is Our School (Education Scotland, 2015) document, promotes a clear message that children and young people should be actively engaged in self-evaluation and school improvement. Moreover, it states that pupil participation is a strong component in ensuring that all stakeholders, including the children and young people, will have a shared ownership of the continuous improvement, which in turn, helps to create a sense of empowerment. Learner participation within the classroom, is an ‘active process’ which can be linked to improving the learning and achievement. According to Park (2003), students that are actively ‘engaged’ in their learning are more likely to understand, remember, enjoy and appreciate the relevance in what they are learning.

Through discussions with colleagues regarding the engagement of pupils and self-assessment, following observations and use of AiFL strategies, it was noticed through observation and jotter corrections (See Appendix 1) that pupils rarely linked their self-assessment to their success criteria. It was also found that, when a traffic light system was used to self-assess, children were assessing their confidence as opposed to their understanding and success in achieving the learning intention. This makes it difficult for the teacher, but most importantly the child to recognise their progress and identify their next steps in learning. Black and Wiliam (1998) define assessment as a tool that should not only help raise the standards within education but also empower children to be life-long learners. Therefore, for this enquiry, we decided to evaluate what happens when pupils set the success criteria with a focus on the outcome of their self-assessment.


The aim of this enquiry was to support pupils in effectively self-assessing their work in order to identify their achievement and next steps for progression. In order to do so, we aimed to:

  • To measure the effectiveness and attitude towards self-assessment when pupils set the success criteria.
  • To evaluate if setting their success criteria enhances pupils’ performance.
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