Assessing thinking: Designing a model for the teaching of enquiry skills with the assessment and recording of learning outcomes in digital portfolios by secondary students

From January 2008 to December 2009
Project Leader(s): Kieran McGrane (Project Manager and Headteacher); David Kinninment (Project Supervisor and Assistant Headteacher); David Leat (Lead Academic, Newcastle University)
Staff: Jamie Bell; Victoria Bonner; Trevor Cessford; Will Close-Ash; Kristian Grundy; Kerry Lane; Alan Poulter; Anna Reid (Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate)
Contact: David Leat
Sponsors: ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Partners: Federation of Bedlingtonshire High School and West Sleekburn Middle School, Knowledge Transfer Partnership, Newcastle University, Research Centre for Learning and Teaching and Northumberland Thinking for Learning Unit

Aims and objectives

Assessment practices encouraged by national policies still tend to emphasise the giving of grades which do not encourage students to improve or inform them how to do this. The aim of this unusual two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership project is to design and develop a framework for assessing enquiry skills, which encourages self assessment and improvement which at the same time promotes transfer of learning, and motivation. The project will include a cohort of student researchers, who are intended to play a fundamental and equal part in developing the innovations.

For Bedlingtonshire High School, the key desire is to encourage students to engage in activity that will enable them to become more independent and resilient learners. The partnership offers the opportunity to the school to develop its own internal capacity for change by involving a growing number of staff in the research and development of radical changes in teaching, assessment and curriculum design which meet pupil needs.

Newcastle University has a breadth of knowledge available to inform assessment innovation and the expertise to evaluate its potential. The partnership will also offer techniques related to teaching thinking skills, metacognition, ‘Learning to Learn’ and digital portfolios which can be applied to learning contexts in the school and enable all partners to see their work in a broader national and international context.

For more information contact:

Anna Reid, Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate Federation of Bedlingtonshire Community High School and West Sleekburn Middle SchoolPalace RoadBedlington, Northumberland, NE22 7DSTel: 01670 822625Email:   


Professor David Leat
Prof of Curriculum Innovation

Dr Anna Reid