Mapping the Way to a More Equitable Future for Education - Launch

Advancing equity in education is a major priority for policy makers and practitioners, both in the UK and internationally. It also sits at the heart of Cambridge Assessment Network’s mission to bring high-quality assessment dialogue and practice to the sector.

That's why we've invited Loic Menzies, former Chief Executive of The Centre for Education and Youth, and co-editor of Young People on the Margins, to join the Assessment Network as Associate Education Specialist. Over the coming months he will be convening a series of seminars and round tables on the topic of equity in education.

At this launch event, Loic introduces some of the issues being explored over the course of the series. He is joined by Dr Simon Child, Head of Assessment Training and Brooke Wyatt, Senior Assessment Training Manager at Cambridge Assessment Network, who are helping to shape the discussion and set out some of the ways better use of assessment might help in mapping the way towards a more equitable future.

Audience members were invited to ask questions and put forward their ideas on what should be covered over the series and the talk was followed by a comprehensive question and answer session. 

You can watch the talk back by clicking on the link above. and a list of resources list to further your understanding can be found below.

To stay up to date on future events you can sign up to the Network mailing list. You can also get involved in the conversation on LinkedIn and Twitter, follow #MappingTheWay.

Inviting key voices in the education sector, this series aims to explore themes in relation to how better information - assessment data and beyond - might help policy makers and practitioners steer towards greater educational equity. Themes include:

  • How can teachers and other practitioners make nuanced use of a range of information to identify and understand pupils’ underlying needs?
  • How can teachers and practitioners with different responsibilities and different expertise share information about young people’s needs, strengths and circumstances to ensure no-one falls through the gaps, for example when transitioning between phases?
  • How can young people’s achievements and attainment be understood in ways that are less vulnerable to distortion by circumstances and events?
  • How can policy makers develop a better understanding of the pupil population and its needs?
  • How can policy makers best use data and evidence to inform equity-promoting policies?

Resources and further reading

Conflicted: Why Arguments Are Tearing Us Apart and How They Can Bring Us Together, Ian Leslie

A masterful and highly readable tour of the research on disagreement told through the medium of stories from hostage negotiations, scientific discovery and much else. Leslie explains why disagreement can be so difficult but also, why it is so important and how it can sharpen our thinking and bring us closer together.

The wisdom of polarized crowds, Feng Shi, Misha Teplitskiy, Eamon Duede & James A. Evans 

The authors analysed more than 200,000 Wikipedia pages and found that “polarized teams consisting of a balanced set of ideologically diverse editors produce articles of a higher quality than homogeneous teams.”

Rethinking Social Mobility for the Levelling up Era, Alun Francis

As a new set of commissioners begin their term on the government’s Social Mobility Commission, the new Deputy Chair sets out his vision for the commission. In this paper for Policy Exchange he scrutinises the commission’s previous output and argues that there needs to be less focus on measuring inequalities and a reduced emphasis on access to elite jobs. Instead he believes the commission should drive a focus on what people want from their lives and a greater recognition of the role of local labour markets and ‘good work’. 

Ethnicity Gender and Social Mobility, Bart Shaw, Loic Menzies, Eleanor Bernardes, Sam Baars, Philip Nye, Rebecca Allen

A 2016 Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY) and Social Mobility Commission report that sought to identify a range of intersections between ethnicity, gender and poverty and how these related to education outcomes at different points from Early Years through to University. Part one of the report quantifies the inequalities whilst part 2 explores the factors that may lie behind the disparities and how these might be tackled. 

Bridging the Vocabulary Gap at the Transition, Loic Menzies, Phil Yeeles, Will Millard

A 2020 report CfEY and Oxford University Press report exploring vocabulary difficulties during the transition from primary to secondary school. The report includes data from extensive surveys of teachers and interviews with leading experts in the field, as well as a number of case studies of how schools are working to help their pupils to bridge the gap. 

Don't Send Him in Tomorrow: Shining a light on the marginalised, disenfranchised and forgotten children of today's schools, Jarlath O’Brien

An experienced special school head teacher explores the issues affecting young people with Special Educational Needs and how they are consistently pushed towards the edge of the English education system. Jarlath shares insights from the schools he has worked in and demonstrates how action needs to be taken urgently to support these pupils and their families better.

Young People on the Margins: Priorities for Action in Education and Youth, Loic Menzies and Sam Baars (editors)

Researchers and policy experts from the Centre for Education and Youth share the stories of the young people from various marginalised groups they have met over the course of their research. Groups include pupils who are excluded, young people in contact with social services, Gypsy Roma and Traveller young people and many more. By combining these stories with extensive analysis of the academic literature and key national and international datasets the authors identify cross-cutting themes that link the different groups. Based on these four key themes, the authors recommend a set of priorities for both policy makers and practitioners.

Tackling the Digital Divide (Podcast), Chris Rothwell, Sebastien Chapleau, Kelly Loftus, Alix Robertson, Loic Menzies

In this podcast representatives of Citizens UK, Teach First, Microsoft and CfEY review evidence and experiences from lockdown to explore what steps might need to be taken if the digital divide is to be overcome. 

Drivers and Barriers to Educational Success: Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in EnglandHaroon Chowdry, Claire Crawford, Alissa Goodman

A major study of factors driving educational achievement. The authors from the UK’s Institute of Fiscal Studies conducted extensive analysis of the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England.

Poverty Can’t be the Elephant in the Room, Loic Menzies

Two-part blog series in which Loic Menzies reviews the evidence in relation to the link between poverty and educational outcomes, arguing that education policy makers (and sometimes practitioners) often avoid talking about ‘the elephant in the room’. In part 2 he goes on to show that child poverty is not inevitable and that highly practical and affordable steps can be taken to reduce child poverty and that previous successes in this area shows that this is a challenge that can be tackled.

A purpose-led approach towards the development of competency frameworks, Simon Child, Stuart Shaw

The concept of ‘competence’ has gained traction in recent years because of its power in informing broader educational objectives, such as readiness for transition to later educational stages. The responsibility for developing competencies in learners is increasingly laid onto educational institutions via accountability arrangements. As a result, competency frameworks are value-laden and motivated by interrelated purposes including construct definition, the development of assessment criteria, and workplace readiness.

Collaboration in the 21st century: Implications for assessment, Simon Child, Stuart Shaw

When assessing collaboration, there is a need for a clear understanding of what is being tested, based on a theoretically-sound and agreed upon definition. In light of this important issue, this article has two main intentions. First, to provide an overview of how collaboration is conceptualised, and how it is distinguished from other related group activities (e.g., cooperation). The second aim is to discuss how the conceptualisations of collaboration underpin the development of appropriate methods of assessment.

Research Matters

Research Matters 32 promo image

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.

Media contacts

Contact our press and Public Affairs office

Tel:  +44 (0)1223 556018 
Email: press@cambridge.org