Response to Times Education Commission Report

Times backs Rethinking Assessment’s plans for a broad, digital learner profile for every young person

Rethinking Assessment Team

Rethinking Assessment welcomes the powerful report from the Times Education Commission that supports big changes to the way exams and assessment are done in this country.  

The Commission rightly says that the current assessment system “has become a dead hand on education that is sucking the energy out of schools, stifling teachers and condemning too many young people to the scrap heap.”

We are delighted that it backs Rethinking Assessment’s plans for a digital learner profile that would show the full range of a young person’ strengths beyond a set of numbers and letters – backed by a portfolio of evidence.  We welcome the support of UCAS chief executive, Clare Marchant who said: “If you think about the personal statement, in three, four, five year’s time digital portfolio is absolutely the way to go.”

We also welcome the commisions’ recommendations for: 

  • A slimmed down set of exams at 16 with fewer high stakes exams and more continuous assessment and on-line tests.
  • A new Baccalaureate that is broader, brings together academic and vocational and assesses knowledge, skills and attributes including – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication (oracy)
  • All pupils doing a personal project so that they can develop their interests and passions 
  • A focus on literacy, numeracy and oracy throughout a young person’s schooling

Rethinking Assessment believes that the wealth of evidence it has compiled and commissioned represents one of the most comprehensive pictures yet of how badly the current system is failing young people and wider society. Employers, parents, teachers speaking with one voice calling for something better. 

The commission states: 

“The single minded focus on grades has undermined the broad and balanced education that should be offered”

“There are all sorts of perverse incentives when the system is driven by exam results” 

“Businesses have lost faith in exams. 89% believe it is important that students are assessed on more than academic attainment.”

Dame Sharon White, chairwoman of John Lewis Partnership says that: “education should move from rote learning and memorisation to skills like project management, assessing children on teamwork and the ability to make a product.”

As one commissioner said: “you need to be good at exam technique and this strikes me as the world’s most boring and pointless skill.”

Cambridge academic, Mary Beard says: “GCCEs are past their sell by date.” 

To find out more about the digital learner profile click here

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