Delegates from Sri Lanka's Department of Examinations on a bespoke training course run by Cambridge Assessment Network.
Helping teachers in the classroom and beyond
We are deeply committed to providing the resources required to support education and assessment professionals in the classroom and beyond, and also to encourage and enable lifelong professional development.
Cambridge Assessment International Education hosted another successful series of its annual Cambridge Schools Conferences, which provide an opportunity for teachers and school leaders to learn about new concepts, share knowledge and discuss common challenges. This year’s conferences took place in the UK, Sri Lanka and South Africa, with discussions centring on the theme of ‘creating the conditions for success’.
In March 2019, Cambridge International also held the Pakistan Schools Conference in Karachi, where 220 educators from 150 Cambridge schools debated ‘the impact on education of our rapidly changing world’ under the conference theme of ‘ready for learning, ready for the world’. Across the continent, the Cambridge International East Asia Schools Conference was held in Qingdao in China. Around 200 delegates from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia joined Cambridge experts and invited academics to discuss the challenge of how to prepare students for future study, work and life.
“We also continue to expand our portfolio of learning resources and tools for teachers and their students, and especially resources designed to exploit the many advantages of digital technology.”
Elsewhere, experts from Cambridge Assessment English once again took part in the annual IATEFL Conference (the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language), held in Liverpool in April. Presentations from the Cambridge English team focused on the potential of digital technology to enhance teaching and learning, and the future of assessment.
Growth in professional development
Professional support, at every level, continues to be a key activity for our organisation. In April 2019 we launched A102: Introducing Assessment Practice, our second online course for education and assessment professionals. The course builds on the success of A101: Introducing the Principles of Assessment, which since its launch last year has been taken by almost 1,000 professionals in 68 different countries.
OCR has also been working with its examiners as part of a wider initiative to improve the teacher and student experience. New-style examiners’ reports were launched this year, designed to give teachers more constructive feedback on OCR exams. The reports provide an overview of student performance, and a detailed, question-by-question analysis of each exam. The reports highlight good performance as well as areas for improvement, often using examples of real student responses.
A fundamental strand within our teacher support provision is the focus on professional development programmes and qualifications designed to build confidence in the classroom, thereby helping to improve learner outcomes. This year, for example, saw the launch of the Cambridge International Award in Teaching and Learning as a first step towards more advanced Cambridge Professional Development Qualifications.
The Award programme develops an understanding of both key principles and of the connection between current theory and teaching practice, and was developed in response to feedback from schools who were finding it difficult to recruit and retain effective teachers.
Making use of digital technology
We also continue to expand our portfolio of learning resources and tools for teachers and their students, and especially resources designed to exploit the many advantages of digital technology. ‘Test Maker’, for example, launched by Cambridge International, is a new online service which makes it easy for teachers to create high-quality, customised test papers for their learners using Cambridge questions.
Another initiative, from Cambridge English, is the Teaching English Online course. Run by Cambridge English and FutureLearn, the course gives teachers the knowledge, digital tools and resources to build their skills in online teaching. The course proved so successful that in June 2019 it was awarded a British Council ELTon Award for ‘Innovation in teacher resources’. The Cambridge English team was selected from a highly competitive field, and received their award at a ceremony hosted by poet, novelist and playwright Benjamin Zephaniah.
Supporting teacher expertise with research
Teacher retention remains a challenge in the UK and elsewhere, and is a debate to which we continue to contribute. In October, Professor Christopher Winch of King’s College London spoke about the archetypes of teacher expertise at a Cambridge Assessment Network Seminar event entitled ‘Training teachers, trusting teachers, building competence – understanding teacher expertise’.
In another initiative, Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing’s Cambridge Personal Styles Questionnaire (CPSQ) has been used as part of a five-year longitudinal research programme to explore risk factors in trainee teacher retention. They, along with Relational Schools Foundation, were commissioned by Suffolk and Norfolk SCITT (one of the country’s largest School-Centred Initial Teacher Training programmes) to carry out a five-year longitudinal research programme to explore risk factors in trainee teacher retention.
We support national programmes of education reform around the world, with a particular focus on the professional development of teachers. This year we trained teams of master trainers in Malaysia to give them the skills to train thousands of teachers to deliver the national curriculum for English which has been developed with active support from Cambridge Assessment English to align the curriculum and tests to international standards.
Feedback from the first year of this ambitious project is overwhelmingly positive, with 75 per cent of teachers saying that the curriculum supported them to create a positive, pupil-centred environment. Similarly, more than 95 per cent of teachers who took an English language methodology course in Panama said that they felt more confident in their teaching and reported increased levels of engagement and motivation amongst learners.
Case study: Uzbekistan
Cambridge Assessment has provided admissions testing for over 27,000 students
Cambridge Assessment has engaged with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Public Education on the opening of 14 Presidential Schools across the country, the first of which took place in September 2019, and students have been selected from across the country based on their critical-thinking and problem-solving excellence.
The development of these new schools is aligned with the Uzbekistan National Strategy for 2017–21, and aims to educate talented and gifted children from across the country to international standards.
The schools follow a hybrid local and international curriculum, which combines local syllabuses with elements of the Cambridge Pathway for students aged 12–18. Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing has provided entry tests for over 27,000 students applying for entry to the schools, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subject curriculum, and teacher and school leadership development to date.
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