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NEW ! Outstanding Formative Assessment – Culture and Practice


208 pages

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US Purchasers:  Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.

Shirley Clarke provides a wealth of high quality ideas, practical strategies, classroom examples and whole-school case studies for teachers in primary and secondary schools. The most comprehensive of Shirley Clarke’s titles includes extensive examples and realia, in full colour. The book is clearly structured around the ways in which teachers actually teach, with QR coded web video clips to illustrate key points in action.

  • Helps teachers create an environment for pupils to be active learners, constant reviewers and self-assessors.
  • Ensures teachers start and finish lessons effectively by initially establishing their prior knowledge and capturing their interest and finally encouraging pupil reflection to find out what has been learnt and what still needs to be developed.
  • Develops learning by helping children articulate their understanding and focusing on constant review and improvement.
  • Focuses on whole-school development including lesson study, assessment policies and stories from outstanding schools.

Sections include:

  1. Laying the foundations
  2. Effective starts to lessons
  3. Developing the learning
  4. Effective ends to lessons
  5. Whole school development.

ISBN 9781471829475


US Purchasers:  Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.



A ‘lesson study’ focus on one outstanding teacher in challenging circumstances, Seamus Gibbons

dvdVisit the Resources page to download the free handbooks that accompany each DVD.

An inner London teacher, Seamus’s pupils have repeatedly far exceeded the targets set for them because of his passion for formative assessment and his general teaching strategies.

There are five hours of lessons: balanced argument, ghost story opening, collage, range and mode and finding percentages. Each lesson is designed to trigger in- depth staff discussion, prompted by commentary from Shirley and reflections by Seamus. This DVD is perfect for those familiar with the elements of formative assessment. Highlights are his use of mixed ability, his engaging contexts, his pupil questioning, his feedback in mathematics and pupil-as-teacher in guided reading.

To illustrate the power of watching video, there is a re-teaching of the finding of percentages lesson after discussion of the footage by Seamus and Shirley.

Running time: 300 minutes

I have certainly been fortunate enough to see Seamus teach. For me his effortless use of the AfL strategies have provided me with a benchmark of excellence. For a master class in the use and effectiveness of AfL strategies to the benefit of all children, he is the one to watch.

Helen Riding, Advisor London Diocesan Board for Schools and OFSTED inspector

This DVD is an invaluable resource, both for teachers who have already explored formative assessment and for those who are new to it. For those familiar with formative assessment, it provides a tool for reviewing how they teach and for developing their practice further. For those who are new to it, the DVD provides a resource for exploring the various aspects of formative assessment through the practice of a thoughtful and committed teacher. While focusing on a Year 6 class, the DVD will be of great relevance to teachers of all age groups.

David Bartlett, Independent Educational Consultant (previously Coordinator for Assessment for Birmingham LA)

Schools will find this DVD extremely useful for whole school and staff development. I am now a big fan of Seamus – it is cheering to know that his practice can be shared more widely

Hilary Flaherty (Previously head teacher of Conway Primary School, Greenwich)


DVD – The Power of Formative Assessment Buy Now

Self-belief and active involvement in the process of learning

An ideal vehicle for staff development, this DVD shows real, minimally edited examples of formative assessment in action in classes across the primary age range.

Each of the five sections contains a range of strategies across the classes, commentary by Shirley Clarke, teachers’ thoughts about impact and questions for discussion.

Children are seen actively engaged in, for example, discussions about intelligence, generating success criteria, evaluating and changing talk partners and cooperatively improving their writing.

See Shirley’s book Active Learning through Formative Assessment for more background and further examples of practice.

Running time: 100 minutes

Shirley’s DVD clearly demonstrates formative assessment in the real classroom, with real teachers, with real children. Best CPD available for driving improvements in learning.

Sheila Dentith, Senior Inspector and Primary Strategy Manager, Warwickshire

This DVD can be used very effectively to facilitate informed professional dialogue, experimentation, and review. It is a very cost effective way of supporting, developing and consolidating practice in the ongoing mission to maximise pupil learning and progress.

Patricia Griffin, Headteacher, Waulud Primary School, Luton

What an excellent means of developing formative assessment principles – illustrating ways of implementing theory into practice! A really inspirational training tool.

Tim Nelson, Senior Primary Inspector, Raising Achievement Service, Gateshead

Fantastic for showing the progression of assessment for learning processes across every year of the primary school – Early Years examples especially welcome!

Liz Kinsella, Headteacher, William Martin Infant & Nursery School, Essex

Active Learning through Formative Assessment

Hodder Education 2008 ISBN 978 0 340 97445 2

Shirley Clarke’s latest book, following her hugely popular Formative Assessment in Action, puts formative assessment within the context of active learning-pupil engagement, effective dialogue and reflective thinking – and is packed with practical advice and examples from early years to secondary.

Central to the whole process of using assessment for (and as) learning is the way in which pupils become involved in all learning and assessment processes: the expectations and classroom examples in this book demonstrate why and how to do it. Drawn from across the age range, and all subjects, they exemplify effective learning objectives, clear success criteria, talk partner techniques, effective questioning, quality discussion with pupils, and self- and peer evaluation of work.

New themes include how to develop a ‘growth mindset’, so that pupils enjoy challenge rather than avoid it for fear of failure; how popular strategies such as ‘thinking skills’ and ‘building learning power’ complement formative assessment; advice on current national expectations for summative assessment; and planning with ‘key skills’. Shirley also explains how to set up your own action research ‘learning team’ – in an individual school, a cluster of schools or any other educational setting – and how best to support classroom teachers in their journey through the culture and practice of formative assessment.

Down to earth, practical and direct, this book gives busy teachers the essential ‘how to’ information they need, with clear principles and theory to underpin the wealth of practical advice and examples.

Formative Assessment in Action: weaving the elements together

Hodder Education 2005 ISBN 9780340907825

This follow-up to Shirley’s hugely popular Unlocking Formative Assessment focuses on bringing it all together in the primary classroom – how to weave all the elements of formative assessment, coherently and manageably, into everyday teaching.

Uniquely, this book develops whole-lesson examples to showcase the key elements of formative assessment in action. Each chapter defines powerful aspects of formative assessment which are then exemplified in a teacher’s own short account of a real lesson or series of lessons: how to establish clear learning objectives and success criteria; how to use questioning to transform the lesson focus and elevate thinking and learning; how to encourage self- and peer-evaluation; and how to incorporate effective feedback into the lesson format through modelling and self- and paired marking.

Throughout, Shirley’s commentary and analysis draw on extensive classroom feedback from her teacher action-research teams across the UK, highlighting new ideas and good practice as formative assessment continues to develop and evolve. The formative assessment elements are illustrated with examples, diagrams and classroom realia, while summaries and INSET suggestions are provided at the end of each chapter. Ways of strengthening Headteacher and LEA support and implementation strategies are also examined.

Above all, this book will give teachers new confidence to experiment, analyse and modify their practice, to make formative assessment work in their own classrooms.

Formative Assessment in the secondary classroom

Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 9780340887660

This highly practical guide focuses on learning objectives, effective questioning, self- and peer assessment, and feedback as the key elements of formative assessment. Down to earth and direct, with examples from across the secondary curriculum – and many accounts from practising teachers – it shows how formative assessment can bring a dramatic culture shift to teaching and learning in your own classroom. The numerous “ways in” described here – developed by teachers, and underpinned by research principles – will encourage you to become an action researcher in your own exploration of formative assessment.

Enriching Feedback Oral and written feedback from teachers and children

Hodder & Stoughton 2003 ISBN 9780340872581

Marking and other forms of classroom feedback to pupils can actively boost self-esteem, motivate and actively promote learning – or it can demoralize and alienate. The ways in which pupils can be involved in and told what is expected of them, how well they are doing and what to do next, and how their efforts are appraised, lie at the heart of effective assessment for learning. Shirley Clarke shows how marking and feedback complete the ‘learning loop’ which starts with clear learning intentions and success criteria. INSET suggestions and advice on implementing a whole-school feedback policy will help you to discover what works best for you – and your pupils – in your own classroom.

Unlocking Formative Assessment

Hodder & Stoughton 2001 ISBN 9870340801260

Practical strategies for enhancing pupils’ learning in the primary classroom.

Unlock the power and potential of formative assessment in your own classroom!

This highly practical guide explains how to implement assessment strategies that will engage with and support children’s learning, improve progress and raise confidence and self esteem.


To order Shirley’s books only:

Bookpoint Ltd. 130 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4SB

Tel 01235 827720
Fax 01235 400454

You can also order through

To order books in the USA:

Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc. PO Box 585, Katonah, NY 10536

Tel 1-800-336-5588