The Learner Profile Starter Kit: Recognising the full breadth of young peoples’ strengths and achievements


The question about how to effectively assess and represent young people’s knowledge, skills and achievements across their time in education and beyond is gathering pace across the UK and around the world.

Many jurisdictions including States in Canada, Australia and the USA are reforming their assessment systems to give recognition to areas of learning and competence beyond solely academic achievements.

In the UK, there have been numerous reports in recent years making the case for reform, including the Times Education Commission, the Independent Assessment Commission, and the Hayward Review. Later this year, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Schools, Learning, and Assessment and the House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry into 11-16 Education will also be reporting their findings and recommendations.

Whilst reforming assessment will require a long term multi pronged approach, one idea that we think holds promise – and that any school or college can do right now – is introducing a digital Learner Profile for every student.

The Times Education Commission 2022 recommended “a Digital Learner Profile, a personal online portfolio for every student. It would include academic qualifications alongside a record of other achievements: video footage of a pupil playing a musical instrument, photographs of projects they have worked on or details of expeditions, volunteering and work experience.”

A comprehensive record of a student’s learning, strengths, and achievements – inside and outside of formal education – the concept goes beyond traditional assessment methods, providing a more holistic view of a learner’s capabilities.

Learner Profiles are already national policy in Australia and are becoming widespread in other nations. At Rethinking Assessment we are currently piloting digital Learner Profiles in England, exploring their potential for transforming education and the student learning experience.

Gathering evidence and insights from real-world trials

In June 2022, after two years of research and consultation, we launched our digital learner profile framework, a set of guiding principles for conceptualising and implementing this new approach. While the framework is an essential foundation and offers a theoretical set of building blocks, it merely marked the starting point.

Over the past year we have collaborated with 45 schools and colleges, with over 1,000 students now trialling digital learner profiles in a real-world context. The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far and we are collating the findings from these pilots into our new Learner Profile Starter Kit – launching today!

Teachers involved in the pilots have noted how Learner Profiles create a more rounded view of student achievement, enabling them to credit and recognise the capabilities that receive little attention in traditional grading systems. Learner Profiles also promote student self-reflection and metacognition, fostering a deeper understanding of their own learning process.

Furthermore, teachers have highlighted the potential for Learner Profiles to support learners with improved careers provision and the transition between phases of education. Ultimately, Learner Profiles allow us to evidence the full breadth of a learner's achievement beyond the narrow boundaries of what is currently measured by national assessment systems and school inspection frameworks.

Introducing the Learner Profile Starter Kit

Using practical tools devised during our pilots, we have designed our Learner Profile Starter Kit to provide teachers and educators with a range of starter resources and guidance to help them explore this idea and get started.

By broadening what we assess and value in formal education, the Starter Kit helps teachers generate a much richer view of a student's capabilities, enabling them to understand themselves and their strengths.

From step-by-step instructional videos to templates for Google Sites and Microsoft tools, overviews of other products, research, and practical tips, the Starter Kit equips you to get started while helping you adapt the different elements of the framework to your individual context.

Get involved and join the Rethinking Assessment community

Learner Profiles are not an individual effort but a collective movement. We invite educators, schools, policymakers and the wider community to join us. While our Starter Kit builds on in depth research, trials and early evidence, it is not a static resource.

Developed with the spirit of openness and collaboration, schools involved in our pilots have already contributed their best resources for others to access for free via the website, and we expect this to continue.

Learner Profiles will be just one element of a larger transformative journey for our education system. But as our community jointly moves towards assessment methods that better reflect student capabilities for the future, it is clear that only by collaborating can we make a difference in the lives of our learners and inspire a new era of educational excellence.

Sign up here to access the Learner Profile Starter Kit

Join our launch event and meet other schools / colleges already doing this. Register here

Join the conversation on Twitter / X and Instagram #rethinkassessment

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