Action Research

In 2021 we established two working groups which undertook a design thinking inquiry to get underneath the problems with our current assessment system, and find ideas and solutions to test out in schools and colleges. This work provided the foundations for our action research programme. 

We have been looking at a range of options, informed by best practices around the world and from across different settings

At system level

Across groups of schools

In individual schools

At classroom level


What we assess

The content of what we are currently assessing is too limited and narrow and focused on knowledge acquisition. We know that a much wider portfolio of skills, experiences and competencies are what young people need, and both employers and wider society wants.

How we assess

Exams are a limited way of assessing learning, with an emphasis on factual recall over deep thinking. We rely on written timebound exams which don’t give the full picture and are biased towards linguistic skills and those good at working under timed conditions. 

We need a more balanced, holistic and “multi modal” approach to assessment which supports ongoing learning and enables young people to demonstrate what they know and can do.

In January 2022 we launched our first action research projects

From January to July 2022 we are running twilight training and development sessions for teachers and school leaders in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, supporting them to deliver action research interventions and generate insight and learning.


Develop and test out new modes of assessment

Better understand the curriculum and assessment implications of assessing dispositions such as oracy and creative thinking, and developing interdisciplinary curricula/courses

Gain an understanding of teacher training needs in moving to broader modes of assessment

See the impact on learners and their learning

This work will inform the development of our Learner Profile


Interdisciplinary Learning in Schools & Colleges

Delivered by Bohunt Education Trust, London Interdisciplinary School, King Alfred School

This pilot aims to understand more about how best (a) to design truly interdisciplinary schemes of work that impact positively on students’ development, students’ motivation and the wider community and (b) to help schools with the practical challenge of assessing the development of interdisciplinary learning both formatively and summatively. Furthermore, it aims to understand the impact interdisciplinary learning has, not only on students’ depth of understanding, but also on their engagement with school, motivation and metacognition. 

Assessing Creative Thinking in Schools & Colleges

Delivered by Professor Bill Lucas, University of Winchester/Comino Foundation

This pilot intervention aims to understand more about how best (a) to evidence the development of pupils’ creative thinking (creativity and critical thinking) and (b) to help schools deal with the practical challenges of assessing the development of creative thinking. This important research will suggest robust ways of valuing the kinds of dispositions young people need today and, ultimately, contribute to the evidence base for our vision of a new learner profile.

Comparing Talk

Delivered by Voice 21

There is currently no measure of students’ oracy suitable for use for schools to reliably & regularly understand their students’ progress as compared to the national picture. The aim of ‘Comparing Talk’ is to develop an oracy assessment that enables schools to understand the impact of their provision on students’ oracy skills, and to monitor progress.

This project will trial a ‘comparative judgement’ approach to the assessment of oracy to find out:

  • What does this approach enable schools and teachers to learn about students’ oracy?
  • What does “good” oracy look like in EYFS & Yrs5-8? (Providing a scale of exemplar videos.)
  • What are the limitations of a comparative judgement approach, and how can these be mitigated?

And develop, through the above, an assessment tool that can be used at a larger scale in Year Two of the project. 


Our action research projects for this academic year are now full.

If you’d like to express interest in getting involved in future projects please sign up.

A great opportunity to be part of a powerful movement.

This is vital work if we are to have a truly expansive education and curriculum – one which reunites assessment with curriculum and pedagogy.

This is a genuinely collaborative piece of work across schools, countries, and sectors – bringing together state and independent sectors, with Higher Education and policy.

Amazing professional development for teachers. Access to support, networks and opportunities which will put us ahead of the curve for facing hybrid assessment.

Improving assessment post-Covid will take courage and leadership, and if you’d like to get involved and help make change please get in touch.