What is assessment for learning in PE?

What is assessment for learning in PE (AFL) and how can you use it to support your pupils progress?  AFL is an assessment process used in all subject areas but lends itself very well to PE.  Assessment for learning is formative by nature and therefore involves specific processes to be truly effective.

Features of formative assessment

  • Target/outcome led
  • Questioning
  • Feedback from teacher
  • Peer assessment
  • Self-assessment
  • Analysis

Task orientated

Assessment for learning is task orientated, and this makes it perfect for PE.  Set your pupils a task which shapes the learning to come.  An open task, yet outcome led and involves principles and skills you wish the children to develop.  Throughout the task encourage your pupils to analyse their progress, what’s working and what’s not?  Make sure this analysis is in line with the desired outcomes, e.g. if the task is based on attacking as a small group, try to shape all feedback around this principle.

As a teacher, you should facilitate questioning that is thought-provoking for pupils.  Try and provide feedback that is in line with the desired outcomes.  In the example above, it is counterproductive to comment on their defensive skills when you’re trying to develop attacking principles. Pupils should be encouraged to take part in peer evaluation and self-assessment to improve their work.

Example assessment for learning task

Suitable for net/wall game such as tennis. The aim of the game is to score points by making a ball bounce twice in an opponents area. Play the game 1 v 1 on a long narrow court over a bench. One player feeds the ball over the bench and the second player needs to either catch it before the second bounce or return the ball with their hand. Players score a point if their opponent does not catch/return the ball before the second bounce.

Development Using a larger ball, changing the size of the court or remove the bench.

Challenge Hitting the ball to return or rallying to get the ball back and forth.

What good looks like

When working in an AFL framework, children need to know what good looks like.  What are they trying to achieve?  How can they take steps towards good?  What are the key teaching points to achieve a good performance of the desired activity or task?  We can show children what good looks like through a combination of;

  • Teacher demonstration
  • Pupil demonstration
  • Written and verbal explanation
  • Videos
  • Pictures/diagrams/illustrations

Encourage children to think for themselves

A key feature of AFL is children taking control of their own learning facilitated by the teacher.  The thought cycle below can be used by both the teacher and the pupils to devise the steps to success.


Try assessment for learning in your next lesson; you may be doing it already!  Check out AFL resources to support your teaching or sign up for one of our packages, which contains assessment for learning in every unit of work — wishing you the best for your next PE lesson.  Share with us what happens you can find us on Twitter @thepehub or on our Facebook page.

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