The Cambridge Approach to Curriculum

Key issues in assessment: The Cambridge Approach to Curriculum

Speakers: Tim Oates CBE, Martin Johnson, Tori Coleman, Abigail Barnett
Date: 07 Mar 2019 Venue: Cambridge Assessment The Triangle Building, Shaftesbury Road Cambridge CB2 8EA
Time: 09:30 - 12:30
Type: Training event Fee: £70.00

Seminar outline

Interest in issues of curriculum theory and design are not considered to be the traditional domain of interest to an assessment organisation like Cambridge Assessment.

Whilst our research work has, for good reason, been heavily concerned with understanding how to assess things with consistency and precision, we have become increasingly interested in the importance of looking critically at ‘the things’ of learning that are the focus of measurement and assessment.

Recently we have been thinking hard about the nature of learning and the nature of what is and what should be covered in a curriculum (from the Early Years right through to Vocational Education and Training). This is timely given the concerns around issues such as curriculum overload and teacher and learner well-being that are apparently ever-present in the media. 

In this session we will discuss key issues around how to develop a working model of a curriculum, as well as some of the core issues in curriculum development.

Key learning outcomes

Great venue. The facilitator had an entertaining and engaging presentation style."

  • Introduction to the theory and research behind curriculum development and how this links with learning theory and policy issues.
  • An opportunity to reflect on the elements that should be considered when developing a curriculum
  • Gain confidence in discussing curriculum development and considering its application to policy.

Intended audience

Anyone with an interest in curriculum development and how this links with learning theory.

Prior reading


Tim Oates - Director, Assessment and Research Division, Cambridge Assessment

Tim Oates CBE, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development, Cambridge Assessment

Tim joined Cambridge Assessment in May 2006 to spearhead the rapidly growing Assessment Research and Development division. He was previously at the Qualifications and Curriculum Agency, where he had been Head of Research and Statistics for most of the last decade.

Work included advising on a pan-European 8-level qualifications framework. He has advised the UK Government for many years on both practical matters and assessment policy.

He started his career as a research officer at the University of Surrey. He moved to the FE Staff College in 1987 where he helped run the Work-Based Learning project. London University's Institute of Education then appointed him as NCVQ Research Fellow. In 1993 he joined one of the QCA's predecessor bodies, the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, as Head of GNVQ Research and Development. Promotion to Director of Research followed two years later.

Tim was awarded CBE in the 2015 New Year's Honours for services to education. 

Martin Johnson - Senior Research Officer

Dr Martin Johnson, Senior Research Officer, Assessment and Research Division of Cambridge Assessment

Prior to working at Cambridge, Martin was a teacher for ten years. His areas of interest are, amongst other things, the impact of assessment mode on performance and behaviour, learners’ perceptions of assessment materials, the social implications of assessment, and influences on motivation. Martin has published in a number of areas, including research into the question writing process, the links between assessment outcomes and the technology through which they are mediated, assessors’ communication practices, and studies looking at the psychological and social aspects of assessment processes.

Tori Coleman, Research Officer

Tori Coleman,Research Officer, Assessment Research and Division of Cambridge Assessment

Tori is involved in a variety of projects on curriculum and assessment and qualitative research methods. Prior to joining Cambridge Assessment she completed her MPhil in Education (Psychology and Education) at the University of Cambridge.

Abigail Barnett, Deputy Director Curriculum Programmes

Abigail Barnett, Deputy Director Curriculum Programmes, Cambridge International

Abbi is responsible for leading curriculum design, implementation and review on Cambridge International’s education reform projects. She also leads the development strategy for the Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary curricula. She has co-developed an approach to education system evaluation based on Tim Oates’ definitions of “control factors” and the theory of curriculum coherence and has most recently carried out evaluation work in the US, Bermuda, Kuwait, India and Thailand. She has a particular interest in formative purposes and uses of assessment.

Before joining Cambridge International, Abbi worked as a local authority education consultant, focused on school improvement in secondary schools, particularly working with English departments and on whole school literacy. She started her career teaching secondary English in the UK. From 2002-7 she taught IB English A1 and Theory of Knowledge at Bangkok Patana School, a British international school in Thailand.

Abbi has a degree in English Studies from the University of Nottingham, and a PGCE from the University of Manchester.

The Triangle Building, Shaftesbury Road Cambridge CB2 8EA

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