Assessment, Recording and Reporting


Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. It is a way of measuring what learners can do, know and understand. At an informal level, assessing is the judgement that teachers and learners make about the learner’s work, supported by the teacher’s questioning and discussion. This on-going ‘formative’ assessment lies at the heart of teaching and learning, and is sometimes referred to as assessment for learning (AFL). In this kind of assessment learners are fully involved in the learning process, understanding what they need to learn and being encouraged through skilful questioning and feedback to reflect on their own learning, as well as that of their peers. Progress is reviewed and teachers and learners decide what needs to be done next.

Formative assessment is complemented by ‘summative’ assessment, or assessment ‘of’ learning. At this formal level, learners are assessed by performing to others or by taking examinations. This type of assessment can be useful for reporting overall progress in skills, knowledge and understanding.

Musical judgements of a qualitative nature cannot always be captured neatly in marks and grades, and caution should be exercised. Assessing performances by a particular set of criteria may not necessarily convey the whole picture. Sometimes performances go beyond criteria and are more than the sum of the individual parts.

Teachers, Music Services/Hubs and other organisations may wish to use the learning objectives in A Common Approach to create an overview of what learners are expected to achieve through each Programme of Study. This can be useful for the teacher in terms of assessing progress and planning future work, and can also help give a structure to formal feedback produced for parents/carers or schools. Statements could be created using language that is accessible to learners, in order to encourage them to self-reflect on their progress.

With whole-class vocal and whole-class instrumental teaching, since the duration of programmes and the length of individual lessons vary greatly across the UK, it is appropriate to create learning overviews that are tailored to the individual teaching circumstances. As well as supporting assessment, these provide a succinct and clear way of communicating the outcomes of whole-class teaching to school Senior Leadership Teams.


Recording in vocal and instrumental teaching involves both logging assessments in written form and making audio or video recordings. Both can be useful in tracking progress and informing reporting and planning. Audio and video recordings can be used to support learners in evaluating their own performance and can also provide a useful means of sharing work with parents and carers, encouraging them to participate in the feedback process.

Manageability is a key factor. Brief assessments can be made and logged at any time but it is advisable to keep them clear and simple. It is impossible to assess everything at once and it is best to focus on specific areas of skills, knowledge or understanding.


Reporting to parents/carers may take the form of an annual written report, or more regular feedback via online systems. Reporting should cover attainment, progress against agreed individual learning aims, attendance and effort, and identify areas for improvement. Clear, concise language free from technical terms is advisable. Regular reporting keeps parents/carers and (where applicable) schools informed, and can provide an early warning system should any problems arise. Report formats should include opportunities for learners, schools and families/carers to comment on progress. To show the full value of lessons, comments should reflect personal and social outcomes achieved, as well as musical progression.