Vice-Chancellor's introduction

Vice-Chancellor's introduction

Professor Stephen Toope

Professor Stephen Toope

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Chair of Cambridge Assessment’s Syndicate

It was near the start of the financial year covered by this Annual Review that I was delighted to open the first-ever Cambridge Assessment Summit of Education. The theme was ‘Anticipating the future of learning' but amongst all the topics we debated that sunny September day – from artificial intelligence through to climate change – I don’t remember anyone talking about the impact of coronaviruses on education.

Yet just a few months after that event, COVID-19 would emerge, with its awful impact on health and the economy alike. It would also shake up the world of education, almost overnight. We have all been propelled into a world where – to quote the American mathematician John Allen Paulos – the only certainty is uncertainty.

I have witnessed first-hand the way Cambridge Assessment and its people have risen to the challenges posed by the pandemic

However, in many ways, Cambridge Assessment was and is well placed to respond. It had already introduced flexible working and equipped the majority of its staff with the capability to work from home should they need or wish to. COVID-19 served to push the remote learning and assessment solutions in Cambridge Assessment’s portfolio to the, assessments and qualifications around the world and we've innovated our products forefront, helping to accelerate a move to digital that was already under way.

Of course, the exams and tests that are at the heart of Cambridge Assessment were affected. However, as chair of its Syndicate I have witnessed first-hand the way Cambridge Assessment and its people have risen to the challenges posed by the pandemic, pulling together with colleagues at Cambridge University Press and the academic University.

Indeed, it is only by working ever more closely together that we can face the challenges posed by COVID-19, so I was pleased to announce that Cambridge Assessment and the Press will be brought together to create a single organisation. Both have a proud history of contributing to scholarship and education around the world. By bringing together their enormous strengths and capabilities, they will be able to contribute to society more effectively and more powerfully than ever.

In closing, I would like to record words of thanks to members of Cambridge Assessment’s Syndicate whose terms of office came to an end after many years of distinguished service: Dr David Good, Dr James Keeler and Mr Richard Partington. Thank you also to Mr Peter Williams, who retired from both the Syndicate and the Press & Assessment Board, and to Dr Annette Thomas who left the Press & Assessment Board. We wish Annette well in her role as Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group.


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