Education Select Committee Inquiry

Education Select Committee Inquiry: How should examinations for 15-19 year olds in England be run?

We have given evidence to the Education Select Committee on the arguments in favour of and against having a range of awarding bodies for academic and applied qualifications, and the merits of alternative arrangements such as having one national body or examination boards franchised to offer qualifications in particular subjects or fields.

Our evidence shows that a system of multiple awarding bodies offering a range of competitive qualifications - when properly regulated:

  • reduces risk in the system
  • maintains standards
  • is cost effective
  • is efficient
  • promotes innovation and choice for learners
  • generates competitive pressures that ensure constant system modernisation.

Covering each of these issues in turn, we have attempted to provide the Committee with concrete examples which reflect both past UK experience and best practice abroad. In order that current arrangements might achieve their full potential we have also supplied recommendations for improvement in the current system for the Committee to consider.

Drawing on our work in over 160 countries as well as our research knowledge, we have tried to provide the Committee with some idea as to what happens outside the UK. The evidence from overseas requires careful understanding of the nature of the checks and balances within those systems. Some nations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, France and Finland operate a ‘single board’ model. Conversely, assessment in Queensland, Norway and Sweden is highly devolved.

Many of the most successful jurisdictions are of similar size – around 7 million people. This gives a scale which enables high levels of consultation, accountability and engagement – all of which are much weaker in England with its 51 million population.

To learn more, watch our 8-minute video.

Related materials

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.