Blogs on 'Education debate'

Building a more resilient system for our young people

by Loic Menzies, 18 May 2023
Little girl building a tower with wooden blocks

'Efficiency and Resilience: How can we adjust the dial?' is a report out today from the Government Outcomes Lab at Oxford University's Blavatnik School and supported by Cambridge Assessment Network. Many of the ideas in the report are closely linked to the topics explored as part of our ‘Mapping the Way’ series. In this blog, Loic Menzies introduces the ideas in the report, and discusses the links with our ambition to Map The Way to Educational Equity.

School and Trust Strategy

by Loic Menzies, 20 April 2023
2 young children holding hands walking down a school corridor

In the first blog in this mini-series I argued that whichever party wins the next election will need to make the beliefs and values underpinning its policies clear. Then, in the second I showed how competing strategies can result in incoherent policy making. In this blog, I want to argue that being explicit about the values that sit behind a strategy also matters at a school or trust level.

Seven stories of autonomy and centralisation

by Loic Menzies, 27 March 2023
Graphic of 2 couples on a tandem bike, cycling in opposite directions

"Perhaps that’s why politicians ended up investing valuable political capital in major reforms of the National Curriculum, whilst at the same time exempting academies from having to follow it." In this latest blog from Loic Menzies, he explores how policymakers navigate the tensions encountered when trying to juggle autonomy and central direction.

Evidence is all well and good, but don’t forget values

by Loic Menzies, 20 March 2023
Hands holding up columns of bar graph
In debates about ‘progressive’ versus ‘traditionalist’ teaching, part of the debate is about evidence, but values are the iceberg floating beneath the surface. In this blog from Loic Menzies, which is part of our series Mapping The Way to a More Equitable Future for Education, we look at the increased interest in evidence in education and the extent to which this should affect policy decisions.

Assessing 'competence' and ‘21st century skills’: Challenges and ways forward

by The Assessment Network, 06 February 2023
Young woman molding clay on pottery wheel workshop at the ceramic shop
Assessing competence and skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration are high on the agenda for educators, employers, and policymakers looking to reimagine an education system fit for the future. In this blog, we discuss the advantages and challenges of assessing competence and so-called '21st-century skills', and how they might be integrated into the curriculum.

The future of high stakes school assessment

by Sarah Hughes, 31 January 2023
Classic analog typewriter vs Modern digital hi-tech laptop computer
In the past 40 years, the pace of technological change has been rapid. In those same years, assessment has remained largely the same. In this blog we ask, is digital assessment finally on its way, and if so what does that look like? From a lift and shift model to 'born digital exams, we examine how technology is shaping assessment, and discuss why the focus should be on what we want for the future of education, not what the tech can do for us.

What’s the value of assessment data? How to make more reliable inferences about your students’ learning

by The Assessment Network, 09 January 2023
Coloured pencils lined up to look like a bar graph
Harnessing assessment data is an important element underpinning teaching and learning. In this blog, we examine the immense value of having an increased knowledge of assessment data, and how it can support individual practitioners and institutions to make reliable inferences about their students.  

Assessment Horizons - assessment literacy, identities and cultures - with Dr Simon Child

by Guest Blogger, 14 November 2022
Dr Simon Child, Cambridge Assessment Network's Head of Assessment Training was recently a discussant at the 'exploring the role of assessment literacy in times of uncertainty' session at AEA-Europe Conference 2022. We caught up with him to learn more about assessment literacy and cultures and how learning about these concepts may evolve.

We need research! Bringing research insights to our agile digital innovation team

by Sylvia Vitello, 27 October 2022
Group of professionals at a board room table looking at research documents
In a blog last year, we looked at reasons why research practices might need to fit within 'agile' ways of working. ‘Agile researchers’ streamline traditional (academic) research processes so that researchers can provide insights to product teams in a timely and more useable manner. In this blog, Sylvia Vitello reflects on her personal experience as a researcher working within an agile working environment, what went well, and what was challenging.

How can we balance innovation and comparability in our digital high stakes assessments?

by Sarah Hughes & Gill Elliot, 04 October 2022
picture comparing a tennis ball with an old cricket ball
Comparability, or the extent to which standards are similar, between paper and digital assessments can be a concern. In this blog researchers Sarah Hughes and Gill Elliot explain what we mean by comparability when talking about digital assessment, and how our Digital High Stakes Assessment Programme is balancing innovation and comparability of outcomes.

Shifting maths and science assessments onto screen: what’s different?

by Joanna Williamson, 22 September 2022
Man at laptop with calculator
Digital assessment is growing from strength to strength. Besides innovative new assessments – including those integrated within learning tools – there’s demand for existing high stakes assessments to be available on screen. But it's not as simple as migrating all our existing paper tests onto screen. In this blog, we zoom in on the particularities of maths and science.

Putting the Glue Back in the System: What approaches can practitioners adopt?

by Loic Menzies, 06 September 2022
Putting the glue back in the system
A lack of ‘system thinking’ has stymied the sector’s ability to gather, share and act on information about vulnerable young people’s needs. “Putting the Glue Back in the System” will set out some of the approaches education practitioners are attempting within the current system. Part 1 of a 3-part series that forms part of our #MappingTheWay discussion series with Loic Menzies.

Assessment Horizons - with Sarah Corcoran from ACCA

by Guest Blogger, 07 July 2022
How did different organisations offering assessments respond to the pandemic? and what could that tell us about the future of assessment delivery? Cambridge Assessment Network spoke with Sarah Corcoran, Director of e-Assessment Transformation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) about moving to Computer-Based Assessment, and how learning and assessment in her industry is changing in relation to technology drivers.

Exploring equity in education and beyond

by Guest Blogger, 24 March 2022
Children stood in overlapping circles
At an expert roundtable in earlier this year we brought together key voices from the education sector to discuss the barriers to equity in education, and the information policy makers might need to improve it. Here, attendees Hardip Begol and Sammy Wright reflect on the discussion and share their thoughts on these perennial yet but crucial questions for any education system that aspires to equity.

What’s the opportunity? Why policy makers need to understand the options that education unlocks

by Loic Menzies, 22 March 2022
Woman climbing a ladder to get through a door
This is the third in our four-part blog series setting out the key considerations to come from our latest #MappingTheWay event. This one explores why the supply of opportunities beyond the classroom is important, and how we can shape education to unlock them.

Keeping track of changes to the education and exam system in England

by Nicky Rushton, 15 March 2022
Students taking notes in class

There are so many changes to education that it can be difficult to keep track of them all or remember what they were about. In this blog, Nicky Rushton talks about the Register of Change and the latest additions to it covering the effects of COVΙD-19 on schooling, general qualifications and vocational and technical qualifications.

Brought to you in Technicolour: Why policy makers need to understand young people’s lives

by Loic Menzies, 14 March 2022
Young people seen in technicolour
This is the second in a four-part blog series that will set out the key considerations to come from the event. Part one focused on the need to look at young people across the distribution. This one discusses how we can build up a fuller, picture of young people’s lives to inform a more nuanced approach to improving outcomes.

What do you mean ‘personalised learning’?

by Guest Blogger, 10 March 2022
Birds eye view of person walking in a maze
As part of our SHAPE Education initiative, Cambridge University Press & Assessment is hosting monthly ‘SHAPE Live’ debates with experts on the future of education. On Tuesday, 1 March we discussed how, as educators and an education system, we can personalise learning. Brendan Wightman, secondary digital publishing lead (English) at Cambridge University Press & Assessment, reflects on the recent event.

Beware the Threshold: Looking beyond averages

by Loic Menzies, 09 March 2022
Representation of a graph with people
This is the first in a four-part blog series setting out the key considerations to come from an expert roundtable and webinar on the topic of equity in education. Part one looks at the tendency of policy makers to focus on thresholds and averages, and subsequent inability to look at young people across the distribution.

What is competence? A shared interpretation of competence to support teaching, learning and assessment

by Sylvia Vitello & Jackie Greatorex, 26 January 2022
Woodwork student being observed by a teacher while working at a machine, wearing protective goggles and ear defenders
A new research report published by Cambridge University Press & Assessment explores what we mean by competence. Two of three authors, Sylvia Vitello and Jackie Greatorex, explain the background to the report, what’s in it, and why clarity about what competence means is so important.

Diary insights into teaching during lockdown

by Martin Johnson, 24 December 2021
Teacher holding a diary dated 2021
We recently reported on our research that catalogued in detail the experiences of 15 teachers based in England from diaries they were asked to keep during the first half of 2021. This blog describes how the research team set about collecting the data and sets out some of the insights the teachers provided.

Research Matters

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Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.