Seminar: The question of abolition of external exams for 16's in 1946

Seminar by Andrew Watts: The question of abolition of external exams for 16s in 1946
Date: 19 Nov 2019 Venue: Cambridge Assessment The Triangle Building, Shaftesbury Road Cambridge CB2 8EA
Time: 14:30 - 16:30
Type: Seminar Fee: Free

It will come as a surprise to many people that a policy to abolish external exams for students under the age of seventeen was once agreed by the British government. This seminar will discuss the reasons behind that policy, suggesting that national examination systems emerge from broad education and assessment cultures and it is these which have influenced decisions taken in the past.

Understanding our assessment culture is also important when we ask why that abolition policy was never carried out. Indeed, the national external examination system for 16-year-olds has survived in Britain for over one hundred years. At a time when the suggestion is frequently heard that GCSEs for 16-year-olds have outlived their usefulness, it is important to consider what that survival might tell us about the attitudes towards school exams in the country. 

The Cambridge Assessment archives give us some unexpected detailed historical perspectives on that national debate. The seminar will raise the question of how such perspectives, on for example, the role of examination boards, should be considered in any future debates about the national examination system. 

Refreshments: 14:30

Seminar: 15.00 – 16.00

Archive Display: 16.00 – 16.30

Register here using the password archives

About the speaker

Andrew Watts worked at Cambridge Assessment from 1992 to 2009 as head of the English National Curriculum team and Director of Cambridge Assessment Network. Andrew has recently completed a PhD on School Examinations in England, 1918 – 1950 which drew heavily on resources from Cambridge Assessment Archives.

The Triangle Building, Shaftesbury Road Cambridge CB2 8EA