• Pearson Education announces new appointment to board of directors

    Professor Sir David Melville CBE has been appointed as chairman of the Pearson Education Ltd board of directors with immediate effect.

    A Professor of Physics, David has over 40 years experience of working across the broad span of education to bring to bear on the role. Most recently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, he has served as Chief Executive of the Further Education Funding Council and Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University. He was a member of the Tomlinson 14-19 Review, the Foundation Degree Task Force and the Foster Review of the Future of Further Education Colleges.

    David has been a primary, secondary and academy chair and vice-chair of governors, the Government Thames Gateway Skills Envoy, Chair of Lifelong Learning UK, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Learning and Skills Council in Kent and Medway, the University Vocational Awards Council and Higher Education South East.

    Sir David replaces Martin Cross, who retired at the end of his term this year.

    Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said:

    “I am delighted that David has taken up the role of Chair. He has already made a very strong contribution to the business in his role as a non-executive director and is extremely well qualified to Chair the board.

    “We are all very sad to say goodbye to Martin who has done a wonderful job in the role over a number of years. We wish him well in the future.”

    Professor Sir David Melville said:

    “I am honoured to be taking over the chair of Pearson Education Ltd at a crucial time for qualifications and examinations in this country. I am committed to all forms of educational opportunity and our mission to provide high quality resources and qualifications is central to this endeavour.”

    About Professor Sir David Melville CBE

    David Melville has over 40 years experience of working in education with involvement in HE, FE and schools. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, Chief Executive of the Further Education Funding Council and Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University. Before that he was a lecturer and later professor of physics. He was a member of the Tomlinson 14-19 Review, the Foundation Degree Task Force and the Foster Review of the Future of Further Education Colleges.

    He has been a primary, secondary and academy chair/vice-chair of governors, the Government Thames Gateway Skills Envoy, Chair of Lifelong Learning UK, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the Learning and Skills Council in Kent and Medway, the University Vocational Awards Council and Higher Education South East, and a board member of the ifs School of Finance, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, The Place and the Council for Industry and Higher Education.

    He has been on the board of Edexcel/Pearson Education Ltd since 2005, and is currently Chair of the Kent Surrey and Sussex NHS Postgraduate Deanery and a board member of the Network for Black Professionals, K College of FE and London South Bank and Manchester Metropolitan Universities and is a patron of the 157 Group, Comprehensive Future, the Disabled Sailors Association, Faversham Creek Trust, Faversham Festival and the Thames Gateway Young Chamber. He was educated at Sheffield and Columbia Universities.

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  • Our long-term commitments to help raise standards and build confidence in UK exams

    We’ve published wide-ranging recommendations in a report that sets out the part we hope to play in building confidence in Britain’s examination system.

    The report forms part of Pearson’s response to the findings of its “Leading on Standards” consultation which launched in January this year to seek the views of students, teachers, parents, higher education and employers on the future of the examinations system.

    The report offers new ways to ensure that the standards debate remains at the centre of education thinking in the UK. Pearson is making a series of commitments for action in support of this, including:

    • A five yearly, independent and fundamental Review of Educational Ambition which will ensure the British examination system is fit for purpose;
    • Enhanced and accredited training and recognition for Pearson examiners through a strategic partnership with the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors and University of Durham;
    • A new generation of A levels which set the bar higher, and encourage deeper learning; 
    • Independent validation of skills at age 18 in partnership with employers, higher education and other relevant experts.

    The report also recommends that teachers are better supported to assess student progress in their classroom rather than in the exam hall. It argues that focus on quantity of exams with students taking large numbers of GCSE’s should be replaced by a more balanced approach to ensure students are equipped for life through learning experiences which are shaped, valued and accredited by higher education and employers.

    The report will be launched this evening at Skinners Academy in North London, with representatives from higher education, employers, teachers, parents and students taking part in a panel debate on exams and education.

    Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said:

    “Setting educational expectations high – both for students and those of us who seek to support their learning - is fundamental to getting standards right. Our aspirations and actions need to help build a culture of ambition in British education, shifting mind sets from meeting to exceeding expectations.

    “Through these actions and others, we want to work with partners across education to help re-instil confidence in the British examination system, and ensure that the knowledge children acquire during their time at school truly endures and serves them throughout their lives.

    “We are making this series of commitments because we know we have an important role and responsibility, but we can't do it alone. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with all those with a role in British education to raise standards and ensure high-quality outcomes.

    “Too much focus on exams risks undermining the broader purpose of education. By acting on the commitments outlined in the report we believe we can help to build a system that fosters a culture which emphasises learning more, rather than simply testing more.

    “Young people want to be tested in a way that is more appropriate for the world they live in. We need to ensure the education system is dynamic and ready to respond to changing skills and needs. But it’s not enough to look ahead to a fresh start. We need to rebuild confidence in the way examinations are run, where awarding bodies can be trusted to uphold and drive the highest standards.”

    1. The Report makes eight commitments. Pearson will:

    • commit to fund a Review of Educational Ambition
    • seek to build confidence through greater transparency
    • recognise and grow the expertise of our examining workforce
    • invest to build assessment skills in the classroom
    • think beyond exams to encourage more rounded learning 
    • create a New Generation of A levels
    • exercise our influence as an awarding organisation and publisher to reinforce broad learning
    • support accountability methods that better represent the concerns of parents

    2. The full findings and details of the recommendations can be found at

    3. The consultation was launched on January 31st. Responses were sought via the online document as well as through a series of seminars held in conjunction with the think tank Reform which represented 75 organisations from across education and business.

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  • Our response to the Ofqual report on exam board seminars

    Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK, has given our perspective on Ofqual’s report, Exam Board Seminars.

    Rod said:

    “We have always made clear that we believe it is essential that teachers are given support to deliver qualifications, to enable them to give guidance to their students.

    “Events of the past six months have however demonstrated the risks associated with this. We have already taken strong action to ensure that the information shared through events and other channels is always appropriate. Many of our events will be online, and all will be recorded, to enable a high degree of transparency.

    “These new measures are also reflected in the guidance issued by Ofqual today.”

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  • Leading on standards: how to make our exam system the best in the world

    For the last few months, we’ve been running a consultation on ways to restore confidence in exams, putting standards and quality front and centre. 

    It is a debate central to Edexcel, one of the UK’s leading examination bodies, and therefore to Pearson, as its parent company.

    In January, Pearson launched the consultation ‘Leading on Standards’ to begin working out the best way to move forward.

    The consultation explores a number of ways to build confidence in the UK’s examination system. We asked six questions we believe are key to ensuring the examination system defends high standards:

    • How best to set world leading standards?
    • How best to define and protect a new gold standard? 
    • Should assessment be a profession? 
    • How best to share and use data to drive system wide improvement? 
    • How best to create a curriculum with a balance of stretch and mastery? 
    • How best to measure with more meaning?

    As part of this consultation process, we hosted five seminars with a wide range of influential stakeholders in education, representing 75 organisations, and moderated by the think tank Reform. They brought together employers; higher education professionals; headteachers, college principals and senior teachers; parents and students; and the policy community including Government and regulators.

    We carried out this exercise because we believe that a robust and rigorous qualifications system is an essential part, although not the only important one, of Britain’s world-class education system. Pearson has been involved in education for over one hundred years, and we want our exams to help raise the standard of education that every single child receives.

    We’ve been digesting the results of those conversations, talking to experts, and listening to what schools, teachers and pupils themselves think. Pearson will shortly be publishing our conclusions, and sharing more information with the education community about how we believe we can make real improvements to the system’s credibility, and improve confidence in our teachers and examiners.

    Find out more about Leading on Standards

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  • Our comment on the Ofqual review into text books

    We had this to say on Ofqual’s review into exam textbooks, which suggested that they are too focused on preparing for exams over subject content.

    A Pearson spokesperson said:

    “Pearson looks forward to engaging with Ofqual’s review.

    “We believe strongly that aligning curriculum and teaching and learning resources is important and enables the best quality of learning. That is why we work closely with both our own publishing imprints and other third party publishers to develop materials of the highest quality which support this goal. This is consistent with best practice in the rest of the world and includes making best use of new technology.

    “We recognise that we should do everything we can to promote choice of high quality resources for teachers and learners and uphold the integrity of high stakes assessments. Pearson has robust conflict of interest processes and work with a full range publishers, not just our own imprints.

    “In addition, our textbooks are changing to reflect increasingly digital learning environments, which enable them to be tailored to meet the individual needs of each learner. This will support learners to explore their subject in ever greater depth.

    “The report highlights concern that exam-endorsed textbooks are sometimes written by chief examiners. Pearson has been reviewing its processes and has decided we will no longer allow Senior Examiners to write resources to support specifications that they examine.”

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