The title of Chapter 1, ‘The seven pillars of assessment’, is clearly derived from T.E. Lawrence’s famous account of his life in the desert (Lawrence, 1939). This does not imply that I perceive work on assessment to be a desert – far from it. Nor is the ground scattered with skeletons: there are several well fleshed out bodies of knowledge in evidence. Of course, many researchers have preceded me, whom I am pleased to acknowledge. Where this book does resemble T.E. Lawrence, however, is in its focus on the fight for an ideal. Nonetheless, where Lawrence spoke of fighting for ‘the ideal’, I am too much a realist and seek only something better. He spoke of the fight becoming a possession, then a faith. I, too, have fought for a more egalitarian relationship between teachers and learners for the greater part of my professional life. I strongly believe in involving students in assessment. However, where Lawrence spoke of unquestioning possession, I speak of evidence. Lawrence claimed to provide no lessons for the world. I hope I have, through the ‘whirling campaigns’ of these pages, provided something useful for readers.