Welcome back to the second half of the spring term; I really do hope you managed to prioritise some time to reinvest in yourselves and your families, it has been a hectic and frenetic 12 months, with very little respite for our schools and their leaders. We await the Prime Minister’s announcement as to how lockdown restrictions will be eased and the important, finer detail as to how schools might return in March. The media have speculated that reopening of schools on the 8th March remains a priority, however, decisions as to which year groups will open first, or whether secondary and primary return might be staggered, will be shared on Monday 22nd February.

Last week, in The Times on Sunday, I noticed a couple of paragraphs, tucked away, suggesting that GCSE and A level grades this year, are likely to be based on previous exam questions, rather than created mini tests; with exam boards expressing their concern that they don’t have sufficient time to develop new material for teachers to use. So it would appear then, that teachers will be expected to rely on past paper questions as the only relevant material to base their grading on.

Interestingly, Pearson, the exam board, has launched a consultation on scrapping GCSEs and replacing them with an assessment system that is fit for the 21st century. An expert panel including Damian Hinds, Baroness Morris and Lord Blunkett are steering a research project, looking at assessments and qualifications for young people aged 14-19. You actually heard this first last year, when Kevan Collins delivered the annual lecture at the CL AGM, where he asserted that GCSEs should be scrapped because too many children leave school with repeated experiences of failure. One of Camden Learning’s priorities is the review of the Post 16 provision, certainly a recommendation will be reviewing the non-A level pathway; which could be summarised as patchy and duplicative in places. T Levels are set to be the vocational qualification for 16-18, along with the need to grow the breadth of apprenticeships. Camden’s Education Strategy is well placed and poised to build on some of the key themes and challenges to the status quo, making sure that young people are well placed in their learning for the world they live in, one where retrofit, traditional and digital skills will be required.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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