Learning, Teaching and Assessment

The Background

The Learning, Teaching and Assessment strategy at Penicuik High school has been developed to ensure that all young people learn in a high quality environment that meets their needs. It places learning, teaching and assessment at the heart of the school’s work.

In developing the Big 5 strategy, the school has looked:


  • inwards – knowing ourselves inside out through effective self-evaluation, finding excellent practice and sharing it more widely.

  • outwards –  learning from what happens elsewhere to challenge our own thinking, using robust data to evidence what works.

  • forwards – exploring what the future might hold for today’s learners and planning how to get there to help us secure continuous improvement.


The Strategies

Five main areas:

  1. We will focus on developing a rich curriculum experience that focuses on developing knowledge and understanding through a curriculum that is coherent and builds on prior knowledge. Skills are recognised as knowledge.

  2. Knowledge is not confined to explicit knowledge (declarative (facts) and procedural(steps to follow)) but includes tacit knowledge (learned) and implicit (skills, ideas and experiences that are possessed by people).

  3. All courses will be based on progressive programmes of learning developed using the Curriculum for Excellence’s experience and outcomes at the appropriate level in that subject and awareness of the National benchmarks for assessing progress in terms of breadth and depth. All courses should give all students a clear course outline and detail the nature of assessment within the course.

  4. Structured lessons that contain:

 An introduction; including at some point within the lesson sequence, clear learning intentions and success criteria with regard to that learning. Not all single lessons may require that specific input but learners should know what they are doing and why. Starter tasks may be used at the start of the lesson for retrieval practice (the strategy of recalling facts, concepts, or events from memory in order to enhance learning) and feedback.

● Critical and planned activities that allow students to meet the success criteria relating to the learning intention and involve use of the Big 5 Strategies (see below). Lessons should ensure pace and challenge for all learners through consideration of cognitive load theory (using knowledge of the human brain to design teaching strategies that will maximise learning) and scaffolding of learning (a method where teachers offer a particular kind of support to students as they learn and develop a new concept or skill). Explicit instruction (is a way to teach in a direct, structured way) with active student engagement is encouraged.

A plenary that reviews the activities and the outcomes in relation to the success criteria and informs the teacher for planning the next lesson. Plenaries may not occur in every lesson but at a point where the LI/SC are reviewed within a sequence.

The delivery of appropriate homework that is used to give feedback to learners and supports progression through identification of security of learning and next steps.


Building learner confidence, knowledge, understanding and creativity should be the key purpose of learning in order that students may progress from one stage of learning to another and progress to the best possible attainment and leaver destination outcomes.


5. The Big 5 Project: Teaching practice within lessons should ensure delivery of the Big 5 Strategies to support the development of learners who understand: what are my goals in this subject, what progress am I making toward my goals and what are my next steps to make better progress.


The Big 5 Strategies


Assessment S1-S3 (Broad General Education – BGE)

Assessments will fall into summative  (an assessment carried out at the end of a unit/sequence of work) or formative (planned and ongoing assessment strategies used by all students and teachers during learning and teaching) categories.

Language of Assessment Performance 

The following four levels of assessment performance are used across all teaching areas to describe outcomes for learners within a level in the BGE.  These 4 levels will be used to assess classwork, to assess larger pieces of work (like a project), to assess performance in summative pieces of work and will be used in reporting to parents/carers.

Language of Assessment Performance (Individual assessment items)

Starting the Level –Colour PURPLE

The learner has met one of the success criteria for the assessment.

Making progress – Colour BRONZE

The learner has met a few of the success criteria for the assessment.

Progressing with Merit – Colour SILVER

The learner

  • has met most of the success criteria for the assessment and

  • is beginning to demonstrate either that they can consistently meet the success criteria or  demonstrated that they are going above and beyond the minimum requirements of the success criteria: this might be an element of quality, individuality, creativity, effort, presentation etc.

Progressing with Excellence – Colour GOLD

The learner

  • has met all of the success criteria for the assessment and

  • demonstrates consistency and/or that they are going above and beyond the minimum requirements of the success criteria this might be an element of  quality, individuality, creativity, effort, presentation etc.

  • is ready for, and possibly already demonstrating elements of, the next level.


Language of Assessment Performance (Assessment Currency for whole school reporting)

Starting the Level – Colour PURPLE

The learner has started to engage in the work of the new level.

Making progress – Colour BRONZE

The learner has provided evidence of making progress in a number of the Experiences and Outcomes.

Progressing with Merit– Colour SILVER

The learner

  • has achieved a breadth of learning across a significant number of the Experiences and Outcomes for the level;

  • can apply the learning in familiar situations;

  • is beginning to undertake more challenging learning and apply learning in unfamiliar contexts.

Progressing with Excellence– Colour GOLD

The learner

  • has achieved a breadth of learning across a significant number of the Experiences and Outcomes for the level;

  • has responded consistently well to the level of challenge set out in the Experiences and Outcomes;

  • has moved forward to more challenging learning in some aspects and

  • has applied learning in new and unfamiliar situations.


Assessment S4 – S6 (Senior Phase)

Assessment at senior phase will be in line with prevailing SQA guidance and the Understanding Standards resources for that subject course and level. For more information please refer to the relevant SQA Guidelines on the SQA website.

Prelim Assessments – S4-S6 December/January

Prelim assessments form part of the preparation for final exams; they give students the opportunity to experience exam-like conditions and equip students with the revision skills needed for assessments of this nature.


These assessments are held under formal conditions with secure papers and internal / external moderation.

The outcome of the prelims will provide staff and students with valuable information for planning next steps and targets, as well as being used (in conjunction with other material) to form predicted grades.  Prelim evidence (along with other evidence) would also be used in an exceptional circumstance.