ABLe Practice

Using ABLe in Practice to Carry Out Assessment

What do we see? What do we think? What shall we do?
  • observation - as you work with the child observe and describe strengths/interests/barriers to learning
  • information/insights from other school staff
  • information/insights from the learner
  • information/insights from parents/carers
  • information/insights from other partner agencies
  • assessment information
  • use the learner map to examine, evaluate and clarify your thinking and your discussion
  • use the relevant, “Taking a closer look at ……..” statements to examine, evaluate and clarify your thinking and your discussion
  • share and discuss observations/information/ insights with a colleague
  • identify key areas of the map to start with/focus on
  • form a hypothesis about the childs' learning profile
  • using the ABLe, “Taking a closer look at ……..” statements - if more focused observation/ information is required
  • identify outcomes - what do we want to achieve? (Outcomes must be realistic and manageable in your learning environment)
  • using ABLe, “Ideas for ………..” documents to identify appropriate strategies/ supports/accommodations
  • plan interventions - strategies, supports, accommodations
  • demystification - talk to the child about their learning
  • talk to parents/carers - keep them informed and involve them in the decision making process
  • talk to colleagues in partner agencies


Two frequently asked questions:

Where to start?

There is no definitive answer! Assessment is a process and takes time. Where you start the process depends on the group/individual learner you are considering.

Choose the map/area of the map you feel is most relevant to the needs of the group/individual learner.

You may decide to start with the big picture and use the Learning Environment map to help you focus on and consider key features of your classroom organisation and practice, such as attention, giving instructions, etc. By making changes to your practice in these areas, you can better attune the learning environment to meet the needs of the class, group or individual learner.


You may decide to start with the individual learner and use the Learner Map to focus on and investigate both what is getting in the way of a particular child's learning and possible strategies to address the identified barriers. By making changes to your practice in these areas you can better attune the learning environment to meet the needs of the individual learner, group or class.

Whether you decide to use the Classroom Map, the Learner Map, or both, the outcome should be the same - the maps are used to investigate barriers to learning and possible strategies to adapt the learning environment to meet the needs of the diverse range of learners in the setting.

Remember to only delve into the map(s) as deeply as you need to, to get enough information to make a decision about how to proceed.

Click here to see a worked example

How to use the information gathered?

 The challenge for us as teachers and EYPs is to make sense of the information in the context of our learning environment and to apply what we have learned to address barriers to learning in a meaningful and manageable way.

What works for one teacher in one context may not be suitable or appropriate for the next teacher. The important thing is the impact the insights you have gained have on your way of working. As a professional you need to work out how to incorporate what you have learned into your practice in a way that works to the advantage of your children, at the class, group or individual learner level.

Remember strategies identified to help one child address their barriers to learning can often be applied in general in the learning environment so that they can benefit any learner who may need them. (e.g. visual timetables). In this way we meet the needs of the individual and make the learning environment more inclusive and responsive to all learners.

ABLe provides a possible format for recording information gathered and interventions planned. It focuses on strengths, barriers to learning, the impact of these barriers on learning and how these barriers will be addressed. This format and the terminology used is consistent with the Code of Practice for the assessment of Additional Support Needs under Scottish legislation.

An important distinction between ABLe and the usual format of an IEP (Individualised Education Plan) which can be observed is the absence of learning targets. This is intentional and follows from the approach to inclusion developed in the creation of ABLe. At one level, all learners in a group have individual learning targets within a shared curricular framework and teachers are required to develop class learning plans that take these into account. Inclusive practice literally includes all pupils within the shared curriculum framework, with the various approaches to differentiation being used to achieve this. It is the intention that the ABLe approach can be applied with all learners who can be seen as sharing a curriculum. Learners whose needs are such that an alternative curriculum is required for them alone will most likely require individualised learning targets, although they may still benefit from the ABLe approach. The ABLe approach to planning is seen as a realistic response to the difficulty that staff have in making provision for a diversity of needs in mainstream settings where a multiplicity of individual learning targets is unmanageable and also not in the best interests of effective learning.

Click here to see a worked example.

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