Making a difference

Making a difference

Street cricket world cup 2019

Children from around the world competed at the first Street Child Cricket World Cup, supported by Cambridge Assessment.

Building awareness and promoting responsibility

As a global leader in education and assessment, we have a social responsibility towards the learners who access our tests and qualifications, the people who work with us around the world, and the communities in which we operate. We support our people to undertake volunteering as a means to tackle societal issues; we focus on building awareness of and solutions to global issues and proactively invest in our local communities.

“This year also saw the launch of our Refugee Support Committee which will be working with refugee charities to provide language learning opportunities for displaced people.”

The organisation has supported a number of initiatives this year as awareness building and investment activities. In collaboration with our BAME and Women in Leadership Networks, Cambridge Assessment was proud to support the ‘Black Cantabs: History Makers’ exhibition at Cambridge University Library. This exhibition told the stories of black students in Cambridge, many being told for the first time, exploring the forgotten pioneers of centuries past to the celebrated successes of today. The artwork went on display at Triangle in January and our offices in Coventry in February.

Once again we supported the annual Bridge the Gap walk in Cambridge to raise funds for the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, and we also sponsored – for the first time – the Street Child Cricket World Cup. Organised by Street Child United in Cambridge, it brought together street-connected children from countries across the world for their own international cricket tournament, raising awareness of the rights of all children to a childhood free of abuse and neglect.

Our people are proactive fundraisers and have undertaken dozens of fundraising events during the year via sporting events and challenges. Over £3,000 was raised for the Sawston United Youth Football Club in honour of a much-loved colleague Steve Moir, who sadly passed away last year. Our employees also nominate two charities of the year to receive business fundraising support. This year we worked with Myton Hospice in Coventry; Red Balloon in Cambridge, which supports children who self-exclude from school, and CAMFED, which helps marginalised girls in Africa go to school, and empowers young women to become leaders of change.

Our employee-led charity committees organised a range of activities including a lively street cricket match, several bake sales, and a quiz styled on the BBC’s ‘University Challenge’ TV programme. To date, over £8,800 has been raised with the final total being match funded by the organisation.

Case study: Unicef

Most crucially, it aims to give children a record showing what they have learned, if they have to move across borders

Unicef tent

There are 50 million children across the world today who are refugees or displaced. Only half of these have access to primary education, and where schooling does exist, there are language issues, funding shortages, lack of recognition across borders, and often a lack of guidance on what children should be learning.

That is why the charity Unicef appealed for other organisations to join forces with it to find broad solutions to improve education in emergency settings. Cambridge Assessment has responded to that call, in May 2019 signing a Partnership Cooperation Agreement with Unicef for a project that seeks to find new ways to support refugee and displaced learners.

The initiative is a cross-Cambridge collaboration, drawing on people from Cambridge University Press, the Faculty of Education, Department of Psychology and the Faculty of Engineering – and has Microsoft as the technology partner. The project has seen teams from Cambridge travel with Unicef to visit refugee centres in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, and Sudan, with further visits planned for the year ahead.

The team is working to develop a core set of concepts and skills that can structure education provision in different emergency contexts. The aim is to give education providers a core curriculum framework of vital knowledge and skills, and to give teachers access to teaching, curriculum and assessment materials. Most crucially, it aims to give children a record showing what they have learned, if they have to move across borders.

Supporting the vulnerable with education

This year also saw the launch of our Refugee Support Committee which works with refugee charities to provide assistance, language learning opportunities and supplies for displaced people.

The Committee is building on our existing work with refugees, which this year gained international recognition when our MOOC (massive open online course) ‘Volunteering with Refugees’ won the corporate social responsibility category at the Alliance Excellence Awards, from the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals. Developed by Cambridge Assessment English, FutureLearn and Crisis Classroom, the course helps potential teachers of refugees understand the linguistic and social needs of this very specific group, and has so far been taken by 8,000 people.

Once again, this year star students from the UK’s West Midlands region received £3,000 bursaries from OCR to support each year of their undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge.The annual prize giving is possible thanks to a fund arising from OCR’s historical association with the West Midlands Examinations Board. The 2018 bursary students were the first in their families to go into higher education.

In a similar initiative, Cambridge English has been working with Portuguese TV personality Cristina Ferreira on the launch of a scholarship programme which enabled five students from low-income families in Portugal to attend English language learning courses in Cambridge.


Our move to Triangle, our energy-efficient headquarters, has helped increase our focus on environmental sustainability. As we work towards a zero-waste policy, our recycling statistics show that we saved almost 46,000 trees through reduced paper consumption.

We continue to increase our use of solar power and are also making important changes to the way we print, pack and transport documents around the world. This includes a consignment approach to air-freight dispatches, to reduce weight, and an increase in the number of scanned – rather than physical – documents sent to examiners.

We have also introduced small but important changes around Triangle, such as the use of glass carafes (rather than plastic bottles) in our meeting rooms, and compostable plastic wrap for in-house food. We are also conscious of our local environmental impact, and our ‘Cambridge Litterati’ group (comprising staff from Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press) undertook 114 hours of litter picking this year across the local area, collecting more than 40 bags of rubbish.

Case study: Luminary Bakery

The bakery is running a six-month programme that helps vulnerable women get ready for employment through learning to bake

Luminary bakery

Just one highlight of our programme of active community engagement is OCR’s work with Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise based in East London which was recently featured in a special edition of the fashion magazine British Vogue, personally edited by HRH The Duchess of Sussex.

Luminary provides a safe and professional environment for women who have experienced significant social and economic disadvantage and enables them to thrive and learn new employability and transferable life skills through baking. The six-month course Luminary offers each group of women covers baking skills, food hygiene and personal development, and includes OCR’s Life and Living Skills Introductory Award qualification.

This qualification supports Entry Level vocational learners and is also popular with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) programmes wishing to offer learners a personalised programme. Luminary uses the qualification and resources to “practically support a woman and help her grow, whilst working towards a certificate she can be proud of”. OCR is committed to supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged learners and has developed a very strong relationship with Luminary Bakery over the past four years as they go from strength to strength.

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