• 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.”

    read more
  • 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

    read more
  • 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.”

    read more
  • 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
    read more

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
M: +44 (0) 7702 512312

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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