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National Curriculum

Day-to-day assessment


What is day-to-day assessment?

Day-to-day assessment draws on the full range of teachers’ interactions with pupils, including conversations about their work, ongoing marking, observation of behaviour and interactions and peer and self-assessment. It is during day-to-day assessment that teachers notice when pupils have grasped a concept, revealed a misconception, improved their skills or made links with previous learning.

Day-to-day assessment makes pupils more aware of their own progress, particularly when the learning objectives of the lesson have been made clear and success criteria have been made explicit. This awareness can be strongly reinforced by a positive remark or constructive comment. Often these comments will come from a teacher or another adult, but, if the opportunities are there for pupils to discuss each other’s progress, they can be equally powerful from peers.

How is day-to-day assessment used?

Day-to-day assessment provides a wide range of evidence of learning that shapes immediate next steps and contributes to

periodic assessment judgements. In most cases, day-to-day assessment will relate to specific aspects of the subject and to the current teaching focus. In their planning, teachers can anticipate where there will be particularly useful opportunities for providing evidence of understanding by the whole group or individuals. These can be built into whole-class teaching sessions and plenaries, or into group or individual discussions, where questioning can reveal pupils' insights and misconceptions.

The observations made by teachers in these everyday situations, whether recorded or not, affect how future teaching and learning is planned and organised. They help teachers adopt a more personalised approach to learning. This might be through:

  • revisiting or giving particular emphasis to elements that pupils have found difficult to grasp

  • giving more accessible or more stretching tasks to targeted pupils who have found previous material particularly challenging or insufficiently demanding

  • giving pupils opportunities to apply newly-acquired skills in different contexts and with a greater degree of independence

  • providing additional support to pupils with specific difficulties in order to improve their access to, and understanding of, important skills.

Occasionally, pupils will demonstrate progress in their skills and understanding when this was not expected. For example, pupils who lack confidence in writing may produce a significantly better piece of report-writing or explanation when dealing with content from another area of the curriculum where they have a particular interest. Or pupils who have learnt about coordinates in mathematics might consolidate their understanding by applying their learning when map-reading on a field trip. These kinds of evidence can be picked up by day-to-day assessment and are particularly powerful in showing pupils that they can apply their skills and understanding independently and in authentic contexts.

What does good day-to-day assessment look like?

Effective day-to-day assessment:

  • is embedded in planning, teaching and learning

  • requires a shared understanding of learning objectives and success criteria between teacher and learner

  • draws on evidence of pupils' achievement and progress from a wide range of contexts within and beyond the classroom

  • values information that teachers retain in their heads, as well as concrete evidence produced by pupils

  • is based on evidence generated in the course of continuous teaching and learning, engagement with pupils through observation, discussion, questioning, and review and analysis of work

  • helps to shape and refine future teaching and learning, and to personalise the experience of individual pupils

  • provides the basis for discussions with pupils themselves, their parents/carers and with other professionals about their strengths, areas for development and future learning targets

  • is the foundation upon which periodic assessment can be based

  • recognises and celebrates pupils' progress in the light of their previous performance and motivates them to improve further

  • promotes independence and self-motivation

  • develops the capacity for peer and self-assessment among pupils.

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