Learning comes first: shifting the focus from examining to the curriculum

Learning comes first: shifting the focus from examining to the curriculum

Date: 31 Jan 2012 Venue: One Birdcage Walk
Time: 10:00 - 13:00
Type: Seminar

We hosted an event to debate the key issues and to examine what a good programme of learning should look like. More than 150 people including teachers, assessment experts, employers and journalists attended. The debate was streamed live and more than 900 people watched online.

Presenters included Jon Coles, former Director General for Education Standards, Department of Education and Dr Nadia Touba, Project Director of Nile Egyptian Schools NES – Egyptian Education Fund, Cabinet of Ministers – Egypt. Nansi Ellis, Head of Education Policy & Research, ATL; and Richard Earp, Education & Skills Manager, National Grid were among the panellists. Dr Stephen Spurr, Headmaster of Westminster School, and Paul Pritchard, Chair of Governors at the JCB Academy gave an insight into different types of programmes of learning


      Bene’t Steinberg, Group Director of Public Affairs, Cambridge Assessment

      Bene’t has been working in the education field for over 15 years, principally dealing with the politics and perception of assessments and examinations. He has oversight of all of Cambridge Assessment’s education operations – the UK exam board OCR, University of Cambridge International Examinations and Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) as well as the largest research capability of its kind in the world.  The Cambridge Assessment group is a leading international assessment body which develops and delivers professional, rigorous and high standard assessments throughout the world. Bene’t sees the impact of policy on his 19 year old and 12 year old children. 

      Bene’t has a BA in Politics from Lancaster University.  Before coming to Cambridge, Bene’t was at top public affairs agencies delivering advice and public affairs programmes to some of Britain’s major corporations. 


      Simon Lebus was appointed Group Chief Executive of Cambridge Assessment in 2002 and is also Chairman of the OCR Exam Board.  Simon is a Bye-Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, serves on the Board of the Faculty of Education, and is Deputy-Chairman of the Cambridge Commonwealth and Overseas Trusts.

      Simon graduated from Oxford University where he studied Modern History at St John’s and then St Antony’s Colleges.  Afterwards he worked for eight years in the City as an investment banker, involved in corporate finance and capital markets advisory work.  In 1989 he moved into industry spending several years in a number of different senior management positions before joining Cambridge Assessment.


      Roger-François Gauthier has been an Inspector General for Administration of National Education and Research in France since 2000. He is also a consultant for UNESCO. He previously held various positions in French Department of Education. 

      Roger-Francois Gauthier is the author of several reports and books about educational policy, including, for UNESCO, "The contents of secondary education in the world: Current situation and strategic choices.” He is also co-author of "Study on curricular reforms by the skills approach in Africa" (CIEP / AFD / ADB), and of various studies about the institution of the core curriculum of competences at the end of compulsory Education in France.

      Roger-François Gauthier initially graduated in classical languages, studied management and Law at Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA), and got a Ph-D in educational sciences at Lyon 2 University. He is now an invited teacher at Paris 5 University La Sorbonne. He belongs to the editorial board of the International Review of Education de Sèvres (CIEP), and is vice-chairman of AFAE (the French Association of education administrators).


      Dr. Nadia Touba, Project Director of Nile Egyptian Schools NES – Egyptian Education Fund, Cabinet of Ministers – Egypt

      Nadia Touba worked as a professor at Alexandria University for most of her professional career. She has also worked with USAID on several education projects in cooperation with the Ministry of Education in Egypt. She still remains an advisor and consultant to both Ministries of Education and Higher Education. She has worked as the Director of the English Studies Division at the American University in Cairo. 

      At present she is the Director of the Nile Egyptian Schools project which is in partnership with University of Cambridge International Examinations. 

      Over the years she has played a leadership role in several high level projects in Egypt like developing education standards, developing and implementing the first Egyptian standardized tests for teacher placement in the Egyptian Teachers’ Cadre and leading the development of the first Egyptian standards-based textbook to introduce the teaching of English to very young learners. At present she is currently a consultant for the Commission for Academic Accreditation in the Emirates and is working with English Testing Services ETS in Princeton to develop teacher tests to be administrated internationally. Nadia has also widely published her research and has co-authored a variety of books on English language teacher training, curricula and testing.

      Paul Pritchard, Chair of Governors at the JCB Academy, began his career with the Westland Helicopters Company as an Engineering Apprentice and subsequently as a Graduate Trainee.  His career has been centred on People Development, holding Human Resources management posts in the Westland Group, Unigate and JCB.  He also held General Management and Director posts within Unigate's Engineering subsidiary as well of an International Dairy subsidiary of the Swedish Multi National Alfa Laval, working for yearlong postings in Italy and Holland.
      Paul has been with JCB since 1988 where he has until recently been Group Head of Learning and Development, where he headed their Corporate University  JCB is a leading exponent of personal development for all their staff worldwide, which enables them to realise their vision of being a true 'Learning Company'. 
      JCB has been a pioneer in developing robust links between Industry and Education and in acknowledgement of this received, the Leonardo Award for Leadership from the DTI.  Paul has been the Head of the JCB 14 – 19 Academy Project from its inception and is now Chair of Governors of the Academy which opened in September 2010.
      Andrew Hutchinson OBE.  Andrew has been Executive Principal of Parkside Federation Academies since August 2005. 
      Andrew started his teaching career in Liverpool before working for a number of years as Head of Classics and Head of Year in schools in London. He then moved to Doncaster as Deputy Head before taking up his first Headship at Parkside Community College in 1999. 
      Parkside Community College was one of the first schools to establish a Federation when it took over the nearby failing Community College in 2005. Since then, the Parkside Federation has grown to include a primary school and open a sixth form in 2011. Parkside Federation Academies will also be opening a third new secondary school in 2015. Parkside Federation Academies is an International Baccalaureate World School and is focused on developing a new international curriculum for all its learners. 
      Andrew was awarded the OBE for Services to Education in 2008.
      Dr Stephen Spurr, Head Master, Westminster School.  
      Dr Spurr has been the Head Master of Westminster School since August 2005. Westminster is an academically selective boarding and day school with an extended day and a six-day week. There are 740 pupils in years 9-13: 360 boys only in years 9 -11; and 380 boys and girls in years 12-13. From 2000-2005 Dr Spurr was the Head of Clifton College in Bristol and between 1984 and 1999 was the Head of Classics and then a House Master at Eton College. He has taught also in Australia and Italy. At Eton, Clifton and at Westminster he has established partnerships with maintained schools, set up summer schools to raise academic aspiration and forged strong links with the wider community. 
      Nansi Ellis is Head of Education Policy and Research at ATL
      Nansi is responsible for the development and implementation of ATL's education policy.  Nansi joined ATL as a primary education advisor, having previously managed the early years team at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Before that, Nansi worked as a primary teacher, first in west Wales and then in London.
      ATL has both a position statement and a book on our thinking about curriculum (Subject to Change) http://www.atl.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/policies/subject-to-change-new-thinking-on-the-curriculum.asp ). We believe there should be a slim national curriculum framework with much content developed at local level, although there is of course debate to be had both about the extent of the national framework and what we mean by ‘local level’.
      As ‘the education union’ ATL has responded to government consultations on national curriculum development and will continue to take part in the debates as the new national curriculum is developed in England. As our membership extends from early years to further and higher education, and across the 4 UK nations, we have a broad perspective on curriculum development.
      Richard Earp is Education and Skills Manager at National Grid
      National Grid owns and operates the main gas and electricity transmission systems that form the backbone of the UK’s energy infrastructure.
      Richard is a chartered engineer with 23 years experience in the electricity industry, including control centre operations, emergency planning, managing maintenance teams, maintenance planning and, most recently, business and workforce planning.  He has led major changes in the company’s new-entrant training programmes including setting up new schemes at Foundation Degree level.  He is now responsible for all of National Grid’s schools engagement programmes, including establishing new work experience offerings, supporting the Engineering Diploma, developing a site visit programme for schools and STEM ambassador support.
      Dale Bassett is Research Director at Reform, having been with the think tank since 2008. He leads on public service reform and specialises in education and criminal justice policy, researching and advocating ideas on increasing competition and choice and improving value for money across the public sector. He has co-authored reports on topics including the curriculum and qualifications, police reform and economic policy, and has edited a book of essays on the future of the creative industries.
      Dale has appeared widely in both print and broadcast media including the Today Programme, Newsnight, The Daily Politics, The Politics Show, Jeff Randall Live, BBC Breakfast, The Times, The Guardian, The Independent and the Times Educational Supplement.
      He also runs Educators for Reform, a network of hundreds of teachers and academics arguing for the importance of rigorous, academic education. He is a member of the 1994 Group higher education policy forum and a member of the board of advisers of the Liberty League, a group promoting classical liberal ideas.
      Prior to joining Reform Dale co-founded a start-up e-commerce company and worked as a City headhunter.
      Dr. Graeme Atherton has been active as a researcher, practitioner and manager in the field of widening access to higher education (HE) since 1995. After reading Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford he completed a doctorate looking at access to Higher Education (HE) for working class adults at the University of Liverpool. He then spent 5 years at Liverpool Hope University as Associate, Dean Widening Participation before moving to London to manage the Aimhigher Central London Partnership and then becoming Executive Director of the Aimhigher London West Central and North (WECAN) Partnership.
      Graeme now leads AccessHE, a new organisation enabling Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to collaborate in HE widening access activities in London. Over 30 HEIs inside and outside the capital are working together via AccessHE in 2011-Graeme is also Visiting Professor in Higher Education & Social Mobility Practice at London Metropolitan University. 
      Jon Coles. Since January 2012, Jon Coles has been Group Chief Executive of ULT/UCST, a significant provider of independent schools and the country’s largest sponsor of Academies.
      Up until that point, he had spent much of his career working in the Department for Education (under its various different names), latterly as Director General for Education Standards, responsible for a wide range of policy including leading the review of the National Curriculum, reforming initial teacher training, qualifications, testing, accountability and policy to improve behaviour in schools.  Before that, he was Director General for Schools, responsible for oversight of the Academies Act 2010, National Challenge, school funding and capital investment and a range of other policies.  
      He had previously spent three years as Director of 14-19 Reform, leading the drive to raise participation post-16 and attainment at 19, reduce NEET numbers, reform curriculum and qualifications and develop Diplomas. He also led work to raise the participation age and to develop a new planning and performance management system for post-16 education and training.  As Director of London Challenge, Jon was responsible over a three year period for developing and implementing the strategy to improve secondary education in London, which also led to similar approaches in other parts of the country.
      In his career, Jon has been responsible for various Green and White Papers.  He was responsible for taking the 2002 Education Act through Parliament, having written the White Paper which preceded it.  A qualified secondary teacher, his previous jobs included implementing the infant class size pledge, developing future strategy for ICT in schools and a strategy for e-government, on secondment to the Cabinet Office.”

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