Kirsty Hamilton

Primary Teacher

Townhead Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

Using Traffic Lights in the Classroom


Raising attainment, closing the poverty related gap and, children and young people meeting their full potential are key priorities that the Scottish Government have highlighted which will improve outcomes for children (Scottish Government, 2019). The research shows that improving formative assessment can produce significant and substantial learning gains for children (Hargreaves, Gipps & Pickering, 2014). Not only that, but “improved formative assessment helps the (so-called) low attainers more than the rest” (Black & William, 1998, p 4), meaning using quality formative assessment within a classroom can help to raise attainment. Black & William (1998) argue for formative assessment to be successful, children should be educated in self-assessment. This means they are able to understand their learning goal and the outcomes they need to achieve to be successful learners. However, not only is self-assessment an integral part of the learning process for children, it also helps teachers to plan and support children with the next steps of their learning journey.

One method of self-assessment that can be used by children to formatively assess is the traffic light system, whereby children when assessing their learning choose a specific colour relating to their understanding. For the purposes of this enquiry this is the system which shall be used, as they are easily implemented into the classroom and can be used across all levels of the curriculum.


The aim of this enquiry was to introduce traffic lights as a form of self-assessment within the classroom and to determine what the impact, if any, was on the children’s learning.

Download Practitioner Enquiry