• 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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  • Pearson to develop frameworks for OECD's PISA student assessment for 2015

    Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, has been chosen to develop the frameworks for the OECD’s landmark PISA educational assessment in 2015.

    The PISA assessment is widely recognised as the benchmark for measuring the improvement of education systems worldwide. 74 countries/economies participated in the 2009 test.

    In 2015, PISA’s main focus will be testing the scientific literacy of students around the world. The test will feature significant new elements:

    • A new Collaborative Problem Solving assessment will be added, in recognition of the ways young people will have to learn and work throughout their lives. Pearson will develop this new domain for PISA
    • Greater use of computer-based testing

    Pearson will also provide advice to the PISA study on the benefits, opportunities and implications of implementing computer adaptive testing for PISA in future.

    Pearson International chief executive John Fallon said:

    “High quality education is vital to a nation's economic development and social well-being - and PISA is a key benchmark by which nations can measure their own progress and learn from each other. So we are thrilled to have the chance to work with the OECD and academic communities around the world to develop the 2015 test.

    “We are committed to developing a global benchmark that, through assessing a wider range of skills and making better use of technology, will be even more relevant to helping countries prosper in an increasingly global and knowledge-based economy."

    Head of the PISA programme at the OECD Andreas Schleicher said:

    “PISA 2015 has the potential to be the start of a new phase of our international assessments. We need to make much smarter use of technology in how we test young people, and we need to assess problem-solving abilities as governments around the world seek to equip young people with the skills they need for life and employment.

    “Pearson have put forward an ambitious strategy to support the OECD and member governments in creating a global benchmark for education.”

    Notes on this story

    1. The OECD’s PISA test ( is widely recognised as the benchmark for measuring the improvement of education systems worldwide. 74 countries/economies participated in the 2009 test representing around 87% of the world’s economy. Representative samples of students are selected at age 15 in each country in order to provide consistency across borders and regions.

      The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development ( exists to promote policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
    2. Pearson ( is the world’s leading learning company, providing educational materials, technologies, assessments and related services to teachers and students of all ages. From pre-school to higher education and professional education, our curriculum materials, digital learning tools and testing programmes help to educate more than 100 million people worldwide.

      Together with the OECD, Pearson has formed international panels of experts in science, collaborative problem solving, mathematics and reading to define the competencies, understanding and reasoning that students should be tested on in 2015, involving academics from thirteen different countries representing a spread across five continents.
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  • Educational partnership set to widen access to degrees

    Pearson has announced a new educational partnership with Royal Holloway, which will see the college validating their new business degree.

    The new degrees will combine the highest levels of academic rigour alongside practical learning relevant to the workplace. Students will start to enrol students on these Pearson degree programmes from September 2012.

    Pearson is the world’s biggest learning company, working in more than 70 countries and with over 100 years of experience. Royal Holloway is in the top 1% of universities in the world and has an excellent record in graduate employment. This makes it the perfect partner to help develop flexible Pearson degrees that balance academic achievement and the needs of employers.

    Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said:

    “We’re delighted that Royal Holloway has come on board as our validating university partner for this exciting project. Pearson has a long heritage of working in higher education around the world and we’re really looking forward to bringing this expertise to UK degrees”.

    Roxanne Stockwell, Managing Director of Higher Education Awards at Pearson will be leading the Pearson degree development team. She said:

    “Working with Royal Holloway will allow us to produce a degree that is not only academically stretching, but also gives students the skills that are genuinely valuable to employers. There is a real demand for flexible academic degrees which facilitate progression to the workplace. Thanks to this partnership, students will have more choice in the higher education marketplace, and will be able to choose a degree that suits their needs and helps them make progress in their lives.”

    As the validating university Royal Holloway will ensure the high academic quality of the degrees, while Pearson will undertake its design, development and delivery through a network of suitable locations such as such as Corporations and Further Education colleges.

    Professor Rob Kemp, Deputy Principal of Royal Holloway, said:

    “Our founders, in opening colleges for women in the 19th Century, were the first to address the challenge of widening access and we are delighted to continue this tradition today by supporting Pearson in this initiative.”

    The first degree to be offered will be Business, with further degree programmes being developed by Pearson in the future.

    About Royal Holloway

    Royal Holloway, University of London is one of the UK’s leading teaching and research university institutions, ranked in the top 20 for research in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. One of the larger colleges of the University of London, Royal Holloway has a strong profile across the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. Its 8,000 students work with internationally-renowned scholars in 18 academic departments. Over 20% of students are postgraduates and 22% come from 130 different countries. Renowned for its iconic Founder’s Building, Royal Holloway is situated on an extensive parkland campus in Egham, Surrey, only 40 minutes from central London.

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  • First ever national awards to recognise excellence in BTEC qualifications

    The first National BTEC Awards are all about celebrating the outstanding achievements of students, teachers, schools and colleges in vocational learning.

    The Awards will be hosted by Radio One DJ Scott Mills, at the Royal Society of Arts in London and will be attended by nominated students, teachers, and leaders in education. John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning will be opening the ceremony.

    Today’s Awards ceremony is being held in recognition of the nearly a million students around the country who are studying BTEC qualifications this year. Pearson UK, who own Edexcel, the awarding body for BTECs, announced that it was inviting nominations for the National BTEC Awards in April 2011. In total, over 450 nominations were received, across the award categories.

    The ceremony will see the winners of the following four top prizes, as well as eight sector-specific winners, formally announced:

    • Outstanding BTEC Student of the Year: Grant Ridley, National Enterprise Academy
    • Outstanding BTEC Teacher/Tutor of the Year: Euthan Newman, South Thames College
    • Outstanding BTEC School/College of the Year: Newlands Girls’ School
    • Outstanding BTEC Adult Learner: Keith Southern, Mid Cheshire College

    A full list of categories and winners is included in the notes below.

    The judging panel for the Awards, who will all be present at the ceremony, included:

    • Gerard Kelly, Editor of the Times Education Supplement 
    • Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow 
    • Despina Panayi, a former Teaching Awards winner 
    • Nick Chambers, Direct of Education Employers Taskforce

    Rod Bristow, President, Pearson UK said:

    “I am delighted to be hosting the first ever National BTEC Awards today. The quality and number of nominations was incredibly heartening and truly emphasised that it’s high time that vocational excellence is celebrated just as much as we celebrate academic achievement.

    Every year, thousands of BTEC students go on to great universities and fantastic jobs. They achieve great things in a wide variety of careers; from business and engineering to ICT and healthcare. It is just as important to support and officially celebrate the hard work and achievements of outstanding BTEC students and their teachers.”

    Awards host, Radio One DJ Scott Mills said, “I am very excited to be part of the first ever National BTEC Awards. It is important to recognise the different routes through which young people can achieve their ambitions and today’s ceremony will remind people that vocational education is just as valued and valuable as traditional academic routes.”

    About the Awards

    The full list of winners of the National BTEC Awards will be formally announced at the ceremony on 7 July 2012, but please contact Depali or Alexa for more information if you wish to speak to specific winners.

    The full list of categories is as follows:

    1. Outstanding BTEC student of the year
    2. Outstanding BTEC tutor of the year
    3. Outstanding BTEC centre of the year
    4. Outstanding contribution to the community by a BTEC student
    5. Outstanding BTEC student in ICT
    6. Outstanding BTEC student in Business and Enterprise
    7. Outstanding BTEC student in Public services
    8. Outstanding BTEC student in Construction and Engineering
    9. Outstanding BTEC student in Creative and Media
    10. Outstanding BTEC student in Healthcare and Science
    11. Outstanding BTEC student in Hospitality and Beauty
    12. Outstanding BTEC student on a short course
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Press centre contact details for journalists

For enquiries regarding GCSEs, A levels and Key Stage 2 tests please contact:

Hannah Hawkins
Media and Communities Manager, UK

T: +44 (0) 20 7010 2336
E: or

For enquiries regarding vocational qualifications and Pearson College please contact:

Tom Philpott
Government Relations Manager, UK and Europe

T: +44 (0) 20 7010 2313
M: +44 (0) 7715 890442

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