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25 Oct 2021

"We need a system which rewards our students for what they can do, not which rations success and ensures failure."

I was very pleased to speak to the motion at the NEU Conference, which called for radical change in the way our pupils are assessed, as it is something that I feel passionate about.

Newspaper articles outlining assertions by Ofqual that numbers of students receiving top-grades will fall this year, show just how perverse our system is.

What a dysfunctional system we must have when says we're going to decide the number of you who will get certain grades before the examinations have been sat. T...

16 Aug 2021

What’s wrong with high-stakes GCSE exams?

Dame Alison Peacock is writing in a personal capacity and all views are her own.

• Outdated system related to school leaving age from a former era
• Unfair because of the ‘snapshot’ nature of exams
• Stressful – anxiety builds over labelling and ranking of young people, both for the individuals and their families
• Limiting future opportunities for those told they have ‘failed’
• Unnecessary end-stop during an ongoing education process
• Costly – how much better to invest the millions currently...

12 Aug 2021

IAC Chair responds to GCSE results

All students and educators alike have faced an assessment period under the toughest of circumstances and they all deserve huge credit for their efforts.

However, the exam results from this year and last year follow from a pre-pandemic system that was already not fit for purpose.

It is time for a New Era underpinning how we assess our young people and how we prepare them for their life after school.

The controversy last year shone a light on the left behind, and no matter how hard some young...

21 Jun 2021

Parents say that education is about more than just exams – so let’s hear their ideas

Almost all parents agree that a good education goes beyond exam results. The figure was 88% in our most recent Annual Parent Survey - a snapshot of parental opinion from a large sample of 1,500 parents. Only 2% disagreed and the rest lay somewhere in between. That's only a tiny portion who believe that good exam results is the primary goal of their child's time at school.

Clearly, parents value education for its influence on their child's character and life for more than the grades that they ta...

18 Jun 2021

As a teacher, there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching the light of learning die.

For about ten minutes, Year 10 and I were having a great time. The topic was divisive and the group was working through the arguments, bouncing around ideas, testing theories, collaborating one minute and challenging the next. “No way can you call Dickens a radical thinker, all he’s saying here is ‘be nice to each other’. He’s not trying to actually change the situation is he? He’s just telling us to help each other a bit. If he was radical he’d be looking at getting rid of the problems in the f...

15 Jun 2021

The current exams culture does more harm than good

‘The current system of secondary assessment and qualifications has a disproportionate and damaging impact on the provision of education in our schools and colleges.’ It is a very strong statement, but – put to the test – I have yet to encounter a school or college leader who disagrees that our exams culture does more harm than good.

Let us be clear at the outset: calls to reform the assessment system are not a dilution of academic standards. All pupils are entitled to be educated in an environm...

12 Jun 2021

Assessment – It’s Time for a Rethink

Assessment currently dominates our entire education system, influencing what is taught and how it is taught. It is focused on performance in a narrow range of assessment approaches, overwhelmingly academic and written. It is narrowing the curriculum, restraining teacher autonomy and piling stress onto young people.

Most importantly, it doesn’t credit the wider development of transferable skills and attitudes that are essential not just for employment but in families and communities.

With two...

What we've done &
What we're doing.

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