How should examinations for 15-19 year olds in England be run?

How should examinations for 15-19 year olds in England be run?

Students happily discuss results

Cambridge Assessment presented evidence to the Education Select Committee in which we address the Committee’s point  - “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”.

The summary of our findings is as follows:

Typically, concerns focus on four key areas: risks in the system, standards, costs and efficiency. Our evidence shows that a system of multiple awarding bodies offering a range of competitive qualifications - when properly regulated -

(A) reduces risk in the system
(B) maintains standards
(C) is cost effective
(D) is efficient
(E) promotes innovation and choice for learners
(F) 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.

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.

Read the full submission to the select committee: 'How should examinations for 15-19 year olds in England be run?'