Simon Child of The Network reflects on his last few years at Cambridge Assessment and tells us what’s keeping him busy in his new role.
What’s your background at Cambridge Assessment?
I first joined Cambridge Assessment in August 2012 as a Research Officer in Assessment Research and Development (ARD). This post was my first after completing my Ph.D at the University of Manchester on the topic of pre-school children’s symbolic communication, specifically their use of gestures.
After three years as a Research Officer, I moved within the organisation to OCR to spend a very enjoyable and eventful year as a Senior Researcher in Research in Technical Standards. I returned to the Research Division in 2016 as a Principal Research Officer as maternity cover. After the maternity cover was concluded, I continued working in ARD as a Senior Research Officer within the qualifications development team. I moved to the Cambridge Assessment Network (known as ‘The Network’) in August this year as the Head of Assessment Training.
Simon pictured with delegates on a recent international training course run by The Network in Cambridge, UK
Which of your achievements at Cambridge Assessment are you most proud of?
As a researcher by background, I am always looking for ways for my research studies to have as wide an impact as possible. I was particularly proud of a research paper that I wrote (with colleagues Ellie Darlington and Tim Gill) for the Cambridge Assessment journal Research Matters (see news article here). The paper investigated which topics students studied in A Level History, and it gained national press coverage.
In general, I am lucky that my work for Cambridge Assessment is able to directly influence the effective design of our products and services, which is very satisfying.
Tell us about your new role – what are you getting your teeth into right now?
One of the most exciting aspects of my new role is that I am the Co-Course Director for the Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Assessment and Examinations, which The Network runs in collaboration with the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. I will also be a supervisor on the new course, and so I am looking forward to having interesting debates about assessment with students. Working together with Sally Brown, who leads The Network team, I am also looking at the range of provision we offer, and exploring opportunities to expand our influence in the assessment community.
What are your priorities in this new role?
My priority is to expand the reach of The Network’s training provision on the principles and practice of assessment to new audiences worldwide. We have already had some success in meeting this aim. For example, The Network’s A101: Introducing the Principles of Assessment online course has been a resounding success – in just under a year since its launch, it has reached people from 52 countries.
A101 has also been popular with important groups, including examiners and Cambridge Assessment colleagues. The Network has a crucial role in helping people around the world understand how the principles and practice of assessment are successfully applied. In doing this, practitioners, teachers, and ministries gain a greater understanding of the expertise that is embedded within the Cambridge Assessment offer.
In the six years you’ve been with the Group, what is the biggest change you’ve seen?
Almost as soon as I arrived at Cambridge Assessment, I was swept into the world of qualifications reform in England and Wales. It gave me a real appreciation of how policy levers can shape the classroom experience. Other than that, our recent move to Triangle (Cambridge Assessment’s new global headquarters, based in Cambridge, UK) has caused a step change in how we interact across the group for the benefit of our customers. It’s amazing how many more times I have passing conversations that lead onto more defined projects and ideas.