Justine McLatchie

Primary Teacher

Greenhill Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

The Use of Traffic Lights in the Classroom


Formative assessment is key to teaching in order to develop the ability to assess quickly and responsively to support and challenge pupils. The pupil’s voice is extremely important as this provides the child with the opportunity to gain a true reflection of their learning through evaluating their performance and being given the vocabulary to decide their next steps. This enquiry was to gain a deeper understanding of any impact to learning traffic lights might have. Traffic lights was chosen specifically as this can be used throughout the ages and stages of the curriculum and is easily implemented into the classroom. This enquiry engages in the links between pupils’ performance and the traffic lights exercise and to determine whether the pupils’ engagement with the traffic lights reflected in their work. By engaging in the study of pupil voice and self-reflection upon their learning this opportunity was to engage in the impact on self-esteem through a strategy that could provide pupils with the ability to identify next steps in their learning journeys. In particular, Dweck and Mclean’s work delivers insight into the ability to see impacts to self-esteem and motivation through a supportive structure that guides and informs learners of their next steps and their strengths so that they may progress in their learning with success in sight. To allow for the opportunity for practice to grow and develop the ability to understand how learners learn and offer insight on experiences of pupils reflecting on their work. In order for self-esteem and positive ethos within the classroom the practitioner must provide a reflective environment that allows for pupils to discuss freely their results and next steps amongst their peers. To create a motivational ethos within the classroom it is important to give pupils the opportunities to gain more autonomy over their work and learning experiences and thereby building on their ability to be more self-motivated and extend positive learning opportunities. Traffic lights can be used as a rapid-response method that provide the opportunity for instant feedback on pupils’ confidence on a particular area of the curriculum. This also gives practitioners the opportunity to understand the pupils’ knowledge of the current learning.


The aim to this enquiry is to assess the effect of increased self-assessment and use of formative assessment using Assessment is for learning through the use of traffic lights within the classroom. The ‘Attribution theory’ states that “learners who take part in self-assessment (as part of AFL) learn to attribute failures to controllable factors.” This feeling of control can lead to the growth of the learner’s confidence and achievement. With the overarching messages from Alan Mclean: “Creating inclusive climates that help children to feel good about their learning.” To build an ethos that celebrates different styles of learning this in turn enables this inclusive learning climate to support and challenge pupils.

Download Practitioner Enquiry