Initial Assessment

PROSTART is committed to maintaining an initial assessment system that is rigourous and consistent to ensure fair assessment and identify support needs for effective learner progression.

It is Prostarts Policy to carry out an Initial Assessment on All Learners

What do we mean by initial assessment?

We define initial assessment as:

Building up a clear, accurate and relevant picture of an individual’s attainment and potential to use as a basis for negotiating a programme of learning and assessment opportunities.

Initial Assessment is concerned with both:

  • What learners have already achieved – their attainment
  • What they should be able to achieve in the future – their potential

What can we learn from initial assessment?

Initial assessment is the first step in the processes of:

  • Negotiating learning. The key skill improving own learning and performance is founded on the process of negotiated learning, where trainer and learner meet to identify needs and to plan and agree what they hope to achieve
  • Continuous assessment. Equally important is the process of reviewing progress at regular intervals, and giving and receiving constructive feedback – again, central to improving own learning and performance
  • Developing a relationship. Initial assessment should help trainer and learner to get to know each other and to begin to build trust and cooperation.

Initial Assessment can therefore help us to identify:

  • The learner’s learning needs – what they need to learn – which aspects they need to improve
  • Their support needs – how will they best learn. This involves both ways in which the learner is likely to learn most happily and effectively and the kind of help they will most value

Ways of learning (Learning Styles)

During initial assessment it therefore makes sense to find out how learners learn best. For example do they prefer?

  • Putting ideas straight into practice
  • Reading, or taking notes and thinking it through
  • Trial and error
  • Experimenting
  • Mastering the idea or technique before putting it into practice
  • Working alone
  • Working in a group
  • Working one -to- one

Most people employ a range of learning styles depending on the task at hand.

Important Note: There is always the risk of ‘pigeonholing’ or labelling learners when asking them to identify their preferences. While it is helpful to plan learning in ways that suit learners you must also aim to broaden the range of learning skills they can adopt, using their preferred ways of learning as a starting point.

We feel the initial assessment is an important part of the learner joining the course and use a variety of methods to ensure that a full picture of the learner needs can be built up. 

the different ways we gather information for Initial Assessment


Documentary Information Self
Interviews &
Functional Skills Builder Dyslexia

Documentary Information – qualifications, records of achievement, references that provide useful information about the skills and abilities that the individual brings to his or her programme

Self Assessment – the individual’s own views should is taken seriously. They are an important dimension in the overall picture, put into perspective by information from other sources.

Interviews & Discussions – provide an ideal situation for interviewer and learner to get to know each other and a lot of information that may not be obvious from other sources can be realised.

Direct Observation – evidence of how the person performs either at or away from the workplace, body language, comfort zone with paperwork and tests.

BFSB – Basic Functional Skills Builder – it is also important to put the learner through specifically designed situations that build a valid and reliable method of testing ability, performance and learning needs for English and Maths and for this the BFSB is used.

Dyslexia Assessment– where the individual’s rating is not at a standard that would be expected further tests are carried out to identify dyslexia or dyscalculia to ensure extra support needs can be addressed.

The results of the initial assessment are discussed with the learner, documented on the learners Individual Learning Plan and acted on!

Steps of Action Planning

  •  1st Step – Results of initial assessment are used to inform the Individual Learning Plan (ILP) and the learner is referred to an Assessor
  • 2nd Step – If the need for additional support is identified this is identified on the ILP and the Assessor is informed
  • 3rd Step – The Assessor makes a decision if they can provide the support and if required an application is made to a partner organisation for specialist support; reports are sent following visits by the Support Worker to the Assessor
  • 4th Step – If dyslexia or dyscalculia is identified learners are referred to The Nottinghamshire Dyslexia Association for specialist support
  • 5th Step – Once support has been addressed on-going tests are carried out every six months to ensure that the support is effective


This policy is reviewed annually by the Quality and Contracts Manager

Version 8 August 2016