Exchanging ideas at our Higher Education Forum

Exchanging ideas at our Higher Education Forum

Paul Steer blogs on the 'lively discourse' and how, in a world of constant change, the Cambridge Assessment Higher Education Forum is expected to play an important and influential role.

This second meeting of the Cambridge Assessment Higher Education Forum took place last week [on the day of the general election] at the Royal Society of Chemistry in central London. The forum provides a termly opportunity for representatives of nearly 40 universities to exchange ideas about assessment, qualifications, and much wider education policies.

Although this was the second time the forum was hosted and managed by the whole of Cambridge Assessment, it represents an expansion of a long established forum hosted by OCR, which is Cambridge Assessment’s UK exam board.

The OCR version of the Forum first met way back in November 2010 during an earlier time of major political change. Michael Gove had been appointed by the new coalition government as Secretary of State for Education and was preparing the ground for a major review of A Levels and GCSEs. He was calling for an overhaul of A Levels and was calling on Higher Education to take the lead.

The forum became a key player in influencing government policy on A Level development and many other issues. Over the years, the DfE and Ofqual regularly attended the forum to seek views and share emerging policy thinking; Professor Mark Smith, Independent Chair of the A Level Review panel was a guest member.

Beyond A Levels, a great many topics were discussed, all against a backdrop of major upheavals in education, not least in Higher Education. Topics included:
  • Changes to the UCAS tariff system,

  • The use of technology in assessment,

  • The rise of Applied General Qualifications,

  • Fostering links between HE and Further Education,

  • Degree apprenticeships,

  • Quality of marking,

  • Education White Papers.
The second meeting of the Cambridge Assessment Higher Education Forum kept up the tradition of lively discourse with Chris Lyons, Head of Research and Data Group, UK NARIC giving a presentation about an International Entry Qualifications (IEQ) study of the performance of international students holding upper secondary qualifications that have not typically allowed for direct access on to British Bachelor programmes. Joe Collin, Pre-16 Widening Participation Officer, from King’s College, gave an inspiring and interactive session on the use of metacognitive skills to boost attainment, and King’s new pre-16 online learning platform www.gameplan.ac.uk. We were given an overview of the ambitious Cambridge Mathematics initiative by Lynne McClure, the Project Director; and Peter Monteath, Regional Director, UK and Ireland, of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) updated members on qualification reform in England and how CIE has responded to those changes. In a world of constant change, we expect the forum to play an important and influential role for many years to come.

If you would like to join the forum or to present a topic for discussion please contact Amanda Cator Cator.A@cie.org.uk

Paul Steer
Head of Policy, OCR