Initial Assessment & Support

Examining the issues with initial assessment and support.

Available in-person.


Initial Assessment and Support is a 2 hour session.

Information for event organisers only

Too often, initial assessment is no more than a process for checking learners’ literacy and numeracy skills on entry. Initial assessment, however, is far wider than English and maths. Along with diagnostic assessment, this process should identify any and every reason a learner may under-perform or leave early. It should lead to an individual learning plan (ILP) that sets out a clear starting point and records the support needs unique to each learner. Almost more importantly however, where a learner requires additional learning support, the ILP should also set out the conditions all parties should work towards to ultimately achieve and celebrate the learner’s independence of this support – well before the end of their programme.

Informed by the ILPs, learner profiles should set out the differentiation challenge for the teaching teams. Unfortunately, too often it is teachers’ expectations of learners that are differentiated. Learner profiles should be use as a creative tool for the development of the differentiated strategies and resources required for all learners to achieve outstanding outcomes.

These outcomes should then be set out clearly in lesson plans. However, it is too common for learning outcomes to be no more than a list of activities, which then turns assessment into an audit of ‘what has been done’ rather than an evaluation of ‘difference made’.

The session also includes a summary of each teaching strategy used and clear next steps for delegates to continue the development of their work after the session. This work is also supported by access to all session resources and more on the Centre for Creative Quality Improvement’s website.

Information for potential delegates

If you read many inspection reports you may be forgiven for thinking that the inspectorate cuts and pastes weaknesses from a limited central database of gripes: ‘Insufficient individualisation of learning’; ‘Poor use of target setting’; ‘Insufficient progress from learners’ initial starting points’; ‘Insufficient stretch and challenge’. This can lead providers to create a new layer of ‘must dos’ for teachers, and add yet more pressure on an already challenging job.

But if we stand back for a moment and look at the issues from first principles, there is a wonderful and logical narrative that too often gets lost in the blur of bureaucracy.

Using all of the teaching strategies it is promoting, this session gives concrete models and experience of pragmatic solutions to inspectors’ concerns. At the end of the session, delegates take away a set of illustrative strategies they have worked through, along with a summary of each to aid adaption to their own situations.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:

  • set out a strategy to identify and articulate all potential barriers that may lead a learner to underperform or leave early
  • use an aspirational strategy for learner target setting
  • set out the indicators and strategy they will use to evaluate the extent to which learning barriers are being removed.

What the delegates say

  • [I realise] That my own initial assessment (subject specific) will be of greater value in my process. I should allow more time and allocate greater importance to this.’ West Thames College
  • ‘It will help me deliver initial assessment differently. Furthermore, it has enabled me to be more aware of the barriers that hinder independent learning. Thanks so much for all your help Tony!’ The Learning Foundry
  • ‘Brain changing. I will focus on the student/learners being able to be independent post the course.’ Liverpool Adult Learning Service
  • ‘As a manager new to apprenticeships and the need to support staff, this really gave me an insight into how to support staff to ‘individualise’ apps.’ West Lancashire College
  • ‘The teaching was chilled and non-demanding. Initial assessment – I will change the way I get information about learners from learners.’ Wirral Council Lifelong Learning Service


To discuss your requirements in detail, please phone or drop us a line.


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