Co-constructed Success Criteria


Shirley Clarke says that: “Success criteria are internalised and used by pupils if they have had a stake in their generation“.

success criteria picture

Strategies we’ve used:

We have both tried using a number of strategies for co-constructing the open and closed success criteria (SC) for Maths and English (& other subjects).

Having compared our notes, we have found we have approached their creation in very similar ways, with the differentiation across the two cohorts being from our approach in facilitating and guiding the pupils talk.

SC maths

In Y3/4 Maths:

The model we use which has developed over the year, is to get pupils to spend time working on skill fluency and then practice applying the skill in reasoning and problem solving.  Following this period of embedding and investigation, the pupils, with the help of their Talk Partners (TP), discuss the SC they feel are important.  This is then shared amongst the class and discussed.  This is an invaluable Formative Assessment tool, as at this point, any misconceptions are able to be analysed and skill fluency revisited.  A ‘master’ SC list is agreed by the children (guided by the teacher) and typed on the IWB so that the pupils can see their ideas are used and valued.  This is sometimes printed off to put into their books, and sometimes the class one is used as a starting point for the children to edit and improve using their own words and ideas which they can write into their books. This is usually done towards the end of the unit, when they have all become familiar and confident with the skill being taught.

Sometimes, they have written the SC down on paper when discussing with TP at an earlier point in the unit, and a copy has been kept to refer back to later in the unit (or when the topic is revisited later in the year).  At this point, the pupils are able to add to the SC they originally created, in another colour, as a clear indication of the progress in their understanding.

In Y5/6 Maths:

Having spent time teaching and applying the skills needed for a unit of work, the Y5/6 class are given a blank slip of paper where they create their SC list during working through the unit, using their TP to verbalise their thinking and reasoning, and changing and updating the slip as they go.  They approach it as if they were writing to teach it themselves.  At the end of the work we share our SC with the class – the pupils adding on any criteria they feel they missed off, and I as the teacher type up a ‘master’ copy on the IWB, to save for when the topic is revisited, and for revision.  The pupils glue their own copy into their books, at the end of their unit.

In both teaching cohorts, the maths SC are generally closed criteria as they refer to the process of the skill.  Obviously, when using the skill in a problem solving activity, it is the problem solving that needs the SC. It is at this point that the criteria becomes much more open, as the children are able to ‘choose from’ a range of techniques/approaches that they have at their disposal.

SC English

In Y3/4 and Y5/6 English:

We have both taken a very similar approach here.  When writing a particular section of the story/non-fiction piece, we use our Toolkit created earlier in ‘Imitation’ week when studying the class text.  Using our TP, we remind ourselves of what we need to/want to include in the Shared Writing that day.  A continual dialogue is being had during this time and at the end of the Shared Writing, we create a ‘master’ list on the IWB together.  It is at this point that we split the SC into Open and Closed criteria.  For figurative language techniques, the pupils usually decide that these are open criteria and come under the optional “Choose From…” column.  For the key ingredients that make the writing that particular genre, or that particular section of a story, the pupils decide these need to go in the closed criteria, (“Remember to include…”) column.  This is done as a TP, then whole class, discussion.  It doesn’t take very long at this point in the lesson as it follows the continual dialogue about it during the shared writing.

This SC table is visible on the IWB throughout the lesson, but also printed off, copied and handed out to the children so that they have their own copy to stick in their books, and mark off as a kind of ‘checklist’ to support their writing.

SC Outcomes



Year 3/4

Realistically, the process has not been as seamless as the above description would suggest. The last go at co-constructed success criteria was more like the above but the first couple of attempts required much hand holding and teacher input to end up with a coherent set of skills. The children have embraced it as the year has gone on and the process is much swifter now than our early bumbling attempts.

It is an extremely useful formative assessment tool. You can see exactly what the children have understood and used.

Year 5/6

The older children were able to assimilate the idea of what I wanted them to contribute pretty much immediately.  SC coconstructedIn English, they could see from the outset that I was recording what had already been discussed by them in class and they found the print out of the SC table to put in their book extremely powerful as a tool in itself.  In maths, they have always been trained to ‘teach it’ in their explanations and to justify and clarify all the way through any explanations.  Writing up the co-constructed SC at the end of the unit and sharing our findings as a class seemed a very natural process to them.

I have found it a very powerful contribution to my Formative Assessment of the learning. The ownership they feel over it, and the talk that it generates and requires, is a very powerful thing in embedding the learning.


Time To Talk! (pt 2)

Part 2 -Achieving Effective Talk – maximising the learning opportunities with the Talk Partner strategy.

Part 1 of the ‘Time To Talk!‘ post described how and why we have implemented the Talk Partner strategy in our class.  The natural follow on from this was a discussion with the pupils about what makes a good talk partner.

Blank bingo card given to the children.
Blank bingo card given to the children.

What we did:

We co-constructed the success criteria for Talk Partners in class, using the blank bingo card method (as described in the post I wish these children had been my Maths teacher!)


The children and I thought about what does not make a good talk partner and the subsequent discussion drew out ingredients for being a good talk partner.  The pupils filled their cards in with their thoughts about what being a good Talk Partner involved……. talk partners success criteria creation & poster_Page_2


……and we played Bingo against a collation I made of our ideas.



I created a class Success Criteria poster for us to have up on the wall as a reminder for us to refer to throughout all our lessons.Success Criteria Posters

Our class poster which we refer to.
Our class poster which we refer to.



The final step in the process, to really embed the Effective Talk criteria, has been to have short self- and peer evaluation sessions before changing Talk Partners each week.

Children write a positive comment and give to their Talk Partner, before changing.
Children write a positive comment and give to            their Talk Partner, before changing.

The children have really enjoyed reflecting on their part in the partnership and writing a positive comment on a “Thank You” slip, which they then give to their partner, saying why they enjoyed learning with them.  The children love receiving them and keep these complimentary slips in a special book, which they (and I) can look at over time.


Achieving all the success criteria will need training, and I intend to look at each one in more depth over time, creating tasks that will specifically target areas that require it.  The immediate impact I have seen is:-

  • that children are aware of the importance of looking at each other when speaking;
  • they are beginning to take a shared responsibility for each others’ learning, ensuring that together, they both complete tasks set, helping each other along the way;
  • the amount of pupil speaking and listening has increased dramatically;
  • and my talk has decreased, allowing me to listen in to their conversations and gain immediate formative feedback, and give immediate feedback, clearing up misconceptions as they arise.


I look forward to watching this develop over time and believe it will help me to have a clearer focus for assessment in lessons.