Philippa McKeown

Primary Teacher

Netherton Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

Using Traffic Lights in the Classroom


It is widely agreed that assessment is a vital part of learning (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2018). Formative assessment is often highlighted as a method which can improve teacher performance, therefore improving student learning. In addition to this, when implementing Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish Government (2011) highlighted the importance of teachers using assessment to identify next steps and to ensure every child is supported to reach their full potential. Dylan Wiliam (2014) suggests that self-assessment is a useful approach for students to take ownership of their own learning as well as offering a useful opportunity for teachers and learners to work in partnership to recognise success as well as decide on appropriate next steps. William also advises that formative assessment has other benefits within the classroom, for example promoting critical thinking skills, boosting self-confidence as well as being beneficial in informing long and short-term planning. I have encouraged learners to engage in self and peer-assessment strategies to varying degrees of success but have always felt positive in that it encourages learners to become more independent in their learning. Our enquiry group decided to focus on the “traffic light” strategy of self-assessment to encourage learners to self-reflect on their learning and ultimately measure the impact of this on their own progress.


Our aim was to introduce a traffic light system of self-assessment. This was to be modelled to pupils through interactive demonstrations of how this should be carried out to measure the impact this had on learners engaging with their learning intentions and success criteria to meaningfully reflect on their learning. Having trialled this strategy in the past our group felt the traffic light colour chosen did not always demonstrate a true reflection on learning. Instead it was felt that the majority of learners gave themselves “green” as they felt this was the teacher’s expectation of them, among other reasons. It was hoped that through effective modelling of the strategy, learners would take the opportunity to reflect on their success as well as begin to identify their own next steps for learning, allowing them to become more engaged in the learning process.

Download Practitioner Enquiry