Leading experts call for a digital learner profile to transform “narrow” education system

Leading educators, employers and policy experts sign statement calling for a new approach

Rethinking Assessment Team

  • Leading educators, employers and policy experts sign statement calling for a new approach
  • Digital learner profile can widen the curriculum and better reflect young people’s achievements
  • New approach will give employers better information on the skills and achievements of learners

The way we assess our young people is “too narrow”, causes “an increase in stress” and labels a third of young people as failures.  A group of leading educators, employers, policy experts, academics and politicians have released a joint statement calling for the adoption of a digital learner profile which will better reflect young people’s achievements and give their future employers more relevant information about their skills.

The statement, signed by two former education secretaries, several leading academy trusts, local authorities and a number of education charities, argues that what is currently assessed is “too narrow, predominantly focused on subject knowledge in individual disciplines.”  It claims that the way learning is assessed is also “too narrow, largely in high stakes written exams at a fixed time regardless of students’ age or readiness.”

The signatories note that as a result, “a third of young people, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are labelled failures.  There is an increase in stress and the curriculum is shrunk in the race to succeed in these exams.”

The statement outlines a better alternative: a digital learner profile that will “include evidence of what a young person can do, what they have achieved, the story of their learning and of a portfolio of their best work.”

The full statement says:

Unlocking a better assessment system with a new Learner Profile

We believe that our current assessment system is flawed.

What is assessed is too narrow, predominantly focused on subject knowledge in individual disciplines.

The way in which learning is assessed is also too narrow, largely in high stakes written exams at a fixed time regardless of students’ age or readiness.

The result is that a third of young people, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are labelled failures. There is an increase in stress and the curriculum is shrunk in the race to succeed in these exams.

We believe that we need to broaden what is assessed, and how we assess it.

We need to recognise and evidence the full range of strengths of every young person.

We believe that this can be best achieved by using a variety of modes of assessment, not just written exams.

We believe that a powerful way of achieving this is for every young person to compile a learner profile while at school, which can be added to beyond school.

This will be put together during their 14-year learning journey, and be particularly useful at moments of transition. It will be used by colleges, universities and employers as a better way of getting a rounded picture of a young person – an end of school profile that goes way beyond a set of exam numbers and letters. The profile will include evidence of what a young person can do, including qualifications, what they have achieved, the story of their learning, and a portfolio of their best work.

Rethinking Assessment’s draft learner profile is now out for consultation and employers, colleges and universities are collaborating with us to make it as effective as possible.

Signatories

Alice Barnard, CEO, the Edge Foundation

Dr Amelia Peterson, Head of Learning and Teaching, London Interdisciplinary School

Andy Haldane, Chief Executive, The Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturers & Commerce

Andy Moor, CEO, Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust

Baroness Estelle Morris

Professor Bill Lucas, Professor of Real World Learning, University of Winchester

Dame Alison Peacock, CEO, Chartered College of Teaching

Damian Allen, CEO, Doncaster Borough Council

David Perry, Chair Comino Foundation

Frank Norris MBE, Education & Skills Advisor Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Chair

Blackpool Education Improvement Board

Geoff Barton, General Secretary, ASCL

Professor Guy Claxton

Georgea Hughes, Director of Programmes, The Wood Foundation

Gwyn ap Harri, CEO, XP Trust

Ian Emerson, Deputy Head, Latymer Upper School

Lord Kenneth Baker

Kerry-Jane Packman, Executive Director ParentKind

Dr Meeta Vouk, Director and Product Lead, IBM

Neil Strowger & Phil Avery, CEO and Director of Education, Bohunt Education Trust

Ollie Bray, Strategic Director, Education Scotland

Peter Hyman & Liz Robinson, Co-Directors, Big Education

Rachel Macfarlane, Director of Education Services, Herts for Learning

Robert Lobatto & Al McConville, Head and Deputy Head, The King Alfred School

Sally Dicketts CBE, ex President Association of Colleges

Sarah Fletcher, High Mistress St Pauls Girls School, Chair HMC Reform of Assessment working group

Steve Kenning, CEO, Aspirations Academies Trust

Dr Tamsin Ford, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cambridge

Sir Tim Brighouse

Tom Ravenscroft, CEO, The Skills Builder Partnership

Tom Sherrington, Trustee, National Baccalaureate Trust

Will Goldsmith, Head, Bedales School

Gathering insight: the learner profile consultation

The Rethinking Assessment coalition, who have created the concept for the learner profile is currently consulting on how to develop the idea further.  Those with experience of working with young people can learn more about the concept and contribute their feedback to the consultation:

https://rethinkingassessment.com/learner-profile/

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