Don’t we all have memories of taking exams – the butterflies in the stomach, the hushed exam hall, the invigilator saying “you can turn over your papers now”? Because assessment and education are something that are completely intertwined. Assessment allows us to demonstrate our learning and prove our achievement to others – and sometimes just ourselves.
The University has a mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education and learning and it was just this sort of mission that saw the founding fathers of Cambridge Assessment come together in 1858 to create our first school leaving exams. The University subsidised the cost of running the first year to the tune of 10 per cent, and that close partnership continues to this day.
In the years since, the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate – as it was known then – has grown into a truly international organisation, designing and delivering assessments to more than eight million learners in more than 170 countries worldwide. It is the only awarding body still owned by a university, but is now much more than an exam board. It is a trusted partner to governments the world over, a leading figure in curriculum development, and home to the largest research capability of its kind in Europe. Increasingly it is exploring new horizons in education – whether it is harnessing the power of big data to help learners, or exploring digital alternatives to traditional paper-based exams.
I am delighted to be Chair of Cambridge Assessment’s Syndicate and it is a position from which I observe first-hand its continuing success. It has been another year of impressive growth financially for the Group but the year has also seen a milestone in its move to a new purpose-built global headquarters. These premises, designed by the award-winning Eric Parry Architects and incorporating a public art project by the renowned artists Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier, are a new landmark visible to those approaching Cambridge from the south. The building is just across the road from Cambridge University Press and these organisations’ physical proximity is helping foster the perfect conditions for collaboration and closer working between the two.
Both organisations are governed by the new Press and Assessment Board (PAB), which, under the direction of the University’s Chief Financial Officer, Anthony Odgers, is fundamental to increasing collaboration, ensuring we make the most of opportunities to increase educational impact and value to learners.
Lastly, I must thank my immediate predecessor as chair of Cambridge Assessment’s Syndicate, the former Vice-Chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. I would also like to formally welcome new Syndicate members Dr Sue Swaffield and Professor Sarah Worthington. I look forward to continuing to work with them, as well as the existing members and the PAB, in furtherance of our educational mission.
Professor Stephen Toope
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
and Chair of Cambridge Assessment’s Syndicate
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