Introduction to the team at Glasgow School of Art

A photograph of Allan Atlee. He is a white man, wearing a light blue shirt with black glasses and has fair hair.

Who are you and why is this project important to you?

I am Allan Atlee, Deputy Direct Academic at Glasgow School of Art. Assessment is a cornerstone of higher education culture, structuring the experiences students and staff have of it. The recent experiences of the global pandemic have surfaced all sorts of things, perhaps most prominent are the disparities in experience of different groups in society. This has played out in education as it has in terms of health, work etc. The often competing expectations about what assessment does and is for (including QAA etc) as well as the cultural dimensions can make it hard to achieve systemic innovation. What sorts of approaches do you consider most valuable and successful in achieving change?

A photograph of Professor Vicky Gunn wearing a red face mask and a red Harris Tweed jumper. She is white with fair hair and is standing in a room.

Who are you and why is this project important to you?

I am Professor Vicky Gunn, Head of Learning and Teaching at Glasgow School of Art. Lockdown in March 2020 saw shock waves run through the Art and Design higher education sector as we were forced to attend to an ‘unspacing’ of our curriculum and assessment processes: Excluded from physical learning spaces; withdrawn from the usual routines of embodied feedback in studio; thrown into a virtual horizon where assessments points seemed somehow estranged, programmes were forced to address what was the most compassionate approach we could take, whilst managing standards and quality. 

No detriment, pass/fail progression, digital submission became the tools of assessment. Digital inclusion policies, with their explicit awareness of the effect on poverty in higher education, sprung from the fallow. In effect, a revolution in assessment occurred over three months.

At the same time, conversations about quieter students finding their voice on-line, networks of support, the need to rebalance the analogue and digital aspects of our curriculum raised the prospect that assessment could be done differently and potentially more inclusively. 

The outcome to date has been – increases in both the amount of student work which needed to be taken into consideration for assessment to occur and a rapidly-upskilled-in-digital-delivery art and design academy. The next stage in this assessment revolution could be a redefinition of the academy’s preferable assessment design, implementation, and cultures through the lens of social justice.  If we opt for such a stage:

  • What would the preferable designs of assessment methods and regulations look like? 
  • How would we work with students to implement them in a manner that maintains disciplinary knowledges and wisdoms but unravels the social injustices stitched into them? 
  • And what would this do to art and design cultures longer term? Could we see a preferably more inclusive educational legacy play out in our cultural ecologies?

Who are you and why is this project important to you?

My name is Robert Mantho and I am an architect and educator. I’m Academic Development Lead for the Mackintosh School of Architecture.

This project is a great opportunity to collaborate with a group of experienced practitioners to inform teaching and learning with compassion. I believe the project extends critical discussions for me personally and will help me improve my work with students and colleagues.

Launch Event

Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion
QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project 2021
Launch Event

10 June 2.30-4pm

‘Belonging through assessment: Pipelines of compassion’ proposes a key role for student belonging in arts’ assessments policies and pedagogies to help address issues of social justice.

Come and join us for our launch event where the team from UAL, Glasgow School of Art and Leeds Arts University will open up a discussion on exploring the wicked problems and paradoxes that exist for developing humanising, relational practices within managerialist culture.

If you have any questions, get in touch with Vikki Hill, Project Lead:

Book on Eventbrite here: .

A meeting invite will sent to you nearer the event.

The project


A sense of belonging is considered one of the most important needs of students in their learning. The pandemic has deepened feelings of ‘unbelonging’ among many higher education students as it has exacerbated existing inequalities.

This QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project will propose new quality indicators that focus on belonging, compassion and equity, in critique of traditional metrics. It will identify approaches to assessment that nurture belonging through meaningful, compassionate interactions and practices.

By its conclusion in November 2022, the project will deliver a number of open-source outcomes that will be shared with the HE sector:

  • a symposium on compassionate assessment
  • a briefing paper on the project’s activity
  • a blog documenting the organic development of materials and providing a space for exchange of ideas
  • a participatory digital resource.