Assessment is a continuous, planned process of identifying, gathering and interpreting information about the performance of learners, using various methods of assessment. This involves four steps: generating and collecting evidence of achievement; evaluating this evidence; recording the findings and using this information to understand and thereby assist the learner’s development in order to improve the process of learning and teaching. Assessment involves activities that are undertaken throughout the year.

Assessment includes informal (Assessment for Learning) and formal (Assessment of Learning) assessment: In both cases regular feedback should be provided to learners to enhance the learning experience.

Informal assessment is the daily monitoring of learners’ progress. This is done through observations, discussions, debates, practical demonstrations, learner-teacher conferences, informal classroom interactions, questions and answers, short written activities completed during the lesson such as writing in-role, creative writing, informal classroom performances, case studies, etc. Informal assessment can be used to develop learners’ knowledge, skills and values, assess learners’ strengths and weaknesses, provide additional support to learners, revisit or revise certain sections of the curriculum and motivate and encourage learners. It should also be used to inform planning for teaching, but need not be recorded. It should not be seen as separate from learning activities taking place in the classroom. Learners or teachers can mark these assessment tasks.

Self-assessment and peer assessment actively involve learners in assessment. This is important as it allows learners to learn from and reflect on their own performance. The results of the informal daily assessment tasks are not formally recorded unless the teacher wishes to do so. In such instances, a simple checklist may be used to record this assessment. However, teachers may use the learners’ performance in these assessment tasks to provide verbal or written feedback to learners, the School Management Team and parents. This is particularly important if barriers to learning or poor levels of participation are encountered. The results of daily assessment tasks are not taken into account for promotion and certification purposes.

Formal assessment tasksare marked and formally recorded by the teacher for progression and certification purposes. All formal assessment tasks are subject to moderation for the purpose of quality assurance and to ensure that appropriate standards are maintained. Formal Assessment provides teachers with a systematic way of evaluating how well learners are progressing in a grade and in a particular subject. Examples of formal assessments include tests, examinations, the Performance Assessment Tasks (PAT), which could include essays, research tasks, assignments, projects, oral presentations, demonstrations and performances. Formal assessment tasks form part of a year-long formal Programme of Assessment in each grade and subject.


Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement – an integrated curriculum statement replacing Outcomes Based Education (OBE), which integrates the critical outcomes of OBE, but which gives more specific direction about content in terms of level, progression on a term by term basis.

Cognitive Levels:

Lower order: knowledge – recalling, recognising, listing, identifying, describing, naming, finding;

Middle order: comprehension and application – explaining, interpreting, using information in another familiar situation, applying, exemplifying, discussing;

Higher order: analysis, evaluation and synthesis – justifying, comparing, organising, critiquing, exploring, producing, creating, planning, integrating, structuring, arranging, validating, concluding, devising.

Critical learning outcomes:

These are the outcomes that should have been achieved by the end of formal schooling. The National Curriculum Statement aims to produce learners who are able to:

  • identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking;
  • work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team;
  • organise and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively;
  • collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information;
  • communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes;
  • use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem solving contexts do not exist in isolation.

Foundation Phase:

The period of learning from Grades R – 3.

Further Education and Training (FET):

The period of learning from Grades 10 – 12.


This refers to learning and teaching inclusive of all, regardless of barriers to learning or diverse needs and contexts.

Intermediate Phase:

The period of learning from Grades 4 – 6.

Senior Phase:

The period of learning from Grades 7 – 9.

Subjects at Foundation Phase

These include: Home Language, First Additional Language, Mathematics and Life Skills (Beginning Knowledge, Creative Arts (2 hours a week), Physical Education and Personal and Social Well-being).

Subjects at Intermediate Phase

These include: Home Language, First Additional Language, Mathematics, Natural Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Life Skills (inclusive of Creative Arts – Performing Arts (1 hour a week) and Visual Arts (30 minutes a week), Physical Education and Personal and Social Well-being).

Subjects at Senior Phase

These include: Home Language, First Additional Language, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Technology, Economic Management, Life Orientation, Creative Arts – a choice of two art forms, each for 1 hour a week.

Subjects at FET

These include: Home Language, First Additional Language, Mathematics, Life Orientation and a minimum of any three subjects, which include the arts’ subjects (4 hours a week): Dance, Design, Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts.

National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 (January 2012):

This represents a policy statement for learning and teaching in South African schools and replaces all previous curricula. It gives expression to the knowledge, skills and values worth learning in South African schools. This curriculum aims to ensure that children acquire and apply knowledge and skills in ways that are meaningful to their own lives. In this regard, the curriculum promotes knowledge in local contexts, while being sensitive to global imperatives.

Performance Assessment Task (PAT):

A practical or performance-oriented formal assessment task requiring competence in the practical application of knowledge, skills and attitudes. A PAT allows the educator to directly and systematically observe applied competence. The PAT comprises the application/performance of the knowledge, skills and values particular to the subject being studied. The PAT is implemented across the first three terms of the school year. The planning and execution of the PAT differs from subject to subject.


Each subject is divided into broad and specific topics.

A cappella:

Without instrumental accompaniment


In improvisation, embracing each offer made by other players to advance a scene, or move it forward.

Action and Reaction:

Every action (for example, a line, a physical action, a decision taken by a character or a sound effect) should cause a suitable reaction in the other actors.


An extended metaphor, a story which has a literal and symbolic meaning.


A character who opposes what the main hero or protagonist is trying to accomplish


The clear and precise pronunciation of words; the clarity with which words are uttered


A group of people who watch a play, a concert or a film.

Backstage hands:

The people who work behind the scenes to keep the production running smoothly


A unit of action in a scene


A preference, inclination or prejudice which may inhibit or prevent objectivity


The non-definitive black clothing which takes the place of specific character costume in a performance piece


In improvisation, it refers to not accepting other players’ offers, and actually destroying these offers through being unresponsive, not listening or reacting appropriately.


In staging, the planning and carrying out of all exits, entrances, groupings and stage movement.

Character biography:

A description of a character’s life, giving information which leads to realistic character development.


The emotional highpoint in the plot; a point at which the tension peaks.


The arrangement of all the components in the frame, on the page, or on stage.


The opposition of people or forces giving rise to dramatic action


What the character is aware of at any given moment


The background and specific circumstances within which something occurs: Where? When? Who? What? And why?


The commonly accepted devices, principles and guidelines that influence the structure and style of a particular play, text or genre.


A prearranged sign that indicates to a performer, crew member or stage technician that it is time to proceed to the next line or action. Actors also listen for cues in the text so that they know when it’s time to say or do something.


The person/people responsible for the visual and/or aural elements of the drama performance


The words spoken onstage by the characters in a piece of theatre; can also refer strictly to a two-person scene, as opposed to a monologue.


The person who is responsible for putting a performance together, co-ordinating all elements of a production to express a unified vision


The practice of replacing the voices of the original artists in a movie with those of artists speaking another language. Dubbing is a highly skilled field requiring the matching of the new language to the lip movements of the actors.


A group of actors working together


The rules governing acceptable behaviour; for example, theatre etiquette refers to how an audience is expected to behave in a theatre.

Floor plan:

A view of the set from above; used to locate the set on the stage floor, also known as a ground plan.

Focal point:

The point onstage to which the audience is required to give most attention. Focus should be in one place at any time. Less experienced improvisers or actors often tend to “steal the focus” (i.e. upstage one another or split the focus of the audience).


Concentration or attention. To “give focus” means to give your attention to another person or thing onstage. By giving or taking focus, the actors allow the audience to follow the action of the theatre experience.


Complete stillness of every muscle of the body


Form of non-verbal communication made with a part of the body, for example, the head, hand or shoulders; refers to a discernable movement

Given circumstances:

The clues given by the playwright as to who, where, what, when and why; these will need to be selected by the actors when improvising, or deduced from the script


Observing and copying from things and people around you.


Making something up on the spot; creating a scene spontaneously


What the character is trying to achieve, their purpose or objective

In character:

Not acting like yourself, but like you’re another person. All words and actions are believable, as if you really are the person you are portraying.

Isolation (of muscles or body parts):

separating one part out from the others; being able to use a part of the body independently of other parts.


To find a solution and/or reason for every offer and every element introduced in the scene


Two contrasting things placed next to each other


the use of different heights on the stage achieved by platforms, rostra or stairs; the use of different heights in a group by actors standing, sitting or lying down.


The person who markets or sells the performance to an audience


setting; locale; situation; environment


Expressing an idea or telling a story only using movement (without words)


A long speech spoken by a single character


What drives a character to do whatever they do; the major reason for a course of action


What a character wants in a scene or moment


Whatever is preventing the character from getting what they want at any given moment; obstacles may be internal or external, created by other characters or by the environment.


In improvisation, any action or dialogue that may advance a scene. Offers should be accepted by the other actors in an improvisation.


The speed at which the dialogue or action is delivered


A way of arranging shapes and lines so that they appear to get smaller in the distance


A set of theories which explore the beliefs, accepted norms and mood of a specific time

Physical theatre:

a genre of theatre which makes use of the body as the primary means of performance and communication

Play text:

Also known as a script; the written record of a drama used as the basis for creating the performance

Point of focus:

A Viola Spolin term; the single most important thing in any game, upon which the game depends if it is to be successful.


A principle or main character in a play; the leading character in a play, whose actions are of primary concern.


Almost anything brought to life (animated) by human hands to create a performance. Types of puppets include rod, finger, hand, shadow, Bunraku, giant and marionette.


Practising an action many times in order to perfect it; Practice sessions in which the actors and technicians prepare for public performance through repetition.


The final tying up of loose ends; also known as the denouement, where we see questions answered and order restored.


Or stage setting; the physical elements used to create the scene design or scenery, for example, flats, rostra, curtains, etc.


A Viola Spolin term; someone outside the game or improvisation speaks to those engaged in the improvisation helping them to solve the problems of the game they are playing or providing them with additional information about the scene or the character.


The line of sight between a spectator and what is on stage.


Highly informal and non-standard use of words by a group of people.


Position in society, importance in relation to other people and the relative power held in a particular situation; often based on a character’s sense of self-esteem.


Something or someone that conforms to a conventional, unchanging and over-simplified image or type


The part of the mind of which the character is not consciously aware

Suspend disbelief:

The audience willingly accepts what they are viewing as real, or willingly overlooks anything which might get in the way of their accepting the illusion, in order to be entertained.


A summary or an outline of events


A silent and motionless depiction of a scene by actors, a frozen picture, freeze frame or still image rather like a photograph.



Theatre of the Absurd:

Theatre which points out the meaninglessness and absurdity of life, highlighting the illogical and irrational elements through aspects of plots, character, themes and dialogue

Theatre practitioner:

One who is actively involved in the theatre; one who practices a craft in the theatre; generally refers to the director or designer rather than to the actor


The central idea begin explored or conveyed in the play: the message or doctrine that plays conveys


Closely linked to the subtext, the tone expresses the sentiment or mood

Township musical:

A musical form that fuses African and Western styles to reflect on township life, usually for a township audience

Workshopped play:

A play that is created by a group rather than by an individual, typically using research, improvisation and exploration to create the text and/or action. It may be finally written down, but the process of creation is an active one.

Coming soon…