Assessment in education is a recent phenomenon. Although there were counterparts in former epochs, the term assessment only began to be spoken about in education after the Second World War; and, since that time, views, strategies and concerns over assessment have proliferated according to an uncomfortable dynamic. We fear that, increasingly, education is assessment-led rather than learning-led and counter to what is desired in an ugly judgemental spirit whose moral underpinnings deserve scrutiny. In this article, we seek to historicise assessment and the anxieties of credentialising students. Through this longer history, we present a philosophy of assessment which underlies the development of a new method in assessment-as-learning. We hope that our development of a conversation simulator helps restore the innocence of education as learning-led, while still delivering on the incumbencies of assessment.