Debating in Dubai and outstanding Saudi students

Debating in Dubai and outstanding Saudi students

I'm off to the Middle East this week and will be spending a few days in Saudi Arabia visiting some of our schools (at which the images featured in this blog were taken) and meeting the Public Education Evaluation Commission to find out a bit more about Saudi education policy and its role in promoting sustainable development in the country. Simon Dubai Saudi blog 1 - image

We will also be holding an awards ceremony for Cambridge outstanding achievers, which is an opportunity to recognise exceptional performance in our exams. These are always enjoyable events, well attended by the parents and teachers of successful students and quite lively contingents of fellow students from the winners’ schools. It's also always interesting to hear some of the life stories of the successful students and learn more about the remarkably diverse range of conditions in which they receive their schooling.

Simon Dubai Saudi blog 2 - image I'm then going on at the weekend to the Global Educational Skills Forum in Dubai where I will be speaking in a debate, the subject of which is ‘This house believes we are becoming slaves to standardised assessment'. I will be opposing the motion with Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). On the other side of the debate will be Tony Little, former headmaster of Eton and Simon Dubai Saudi blog 3 - image current Chief Education officer of GEMS Education, and Miriam Mason-Sesay, director of EducAid. Intelligence Squared held a similar debate (‘Let’s end the tyranny of the test’) in London last year where the speakers in favour of testing failed to persuade the audience that it was a good thing, so it'll be interesting to see whether I get a different reaction in the Middle East.

You can join the debate on Saturday on Twitter using #GESF and a recording will be available here after the event.

Simon Lebus
Group Chief Executive, Cambridge Assessment

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