Our response to Education Select Committee report on exams

An Education Select Committee report on the examination system has rejected moves to a single national exam board or to single boards for each subject.

The Committee suggests that there should be a single national syllabus for each subject which would be accredited by the regulator, Ofqual, with every exam board able to set question papers against that syllabus.

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK said:

“This is a thoughtful and rounded report, which tackles a number of complex issues in a sensitive and balanced way.

“It is vital that we address the public perception that competition between awarding organisations leads to downward pressure on standards. Pearson is committed to being a partner in making the changes necessary to enable this. Nothing is more important than ensuring that the effort of pupils is rewarded with qualifications which everyone is confident represent the very best in educational standards, at home and abroad.

“Awarding organisations already work closely with higher education, learned societies and employers to ensure that specifications support progression. However, the “National Syllabus” approach could deepen this and is worthy of further discussion. We welcome the intention to ensure that incentives to innovation in assessment, exam administration and support for schools remain strong, since we believe there is much scope to build on the progress of the last decade in this area.

“A high quality and challenging curriculum needs to be accompanied by engaging and effective resources to bring them to life. Our endorsement procedures ensure we reward books which encourage broad and stretching teaching and learning. Pearson’s internal firewalls ensure that employees who have a responsibility for publishing have no knowledge of what will be on a given year’s exam paper. As the Report notes, Pearson is also currently considering approaches to contain the authoring activities of our senior examiners. We are in discussion with the regulator on this matter, and we will work with them to ensure public confidence in the system, and in Pearson, is assured. We note, too, the Committee’s recommendation on the treatment of other publishers’ resources on our website, and will reflect this.

“We agree with the Committee that change cannot be pursued in isolation to reforms of the accountability system, which needs revision to reward schools for achieving high expectations for all learners, and offering a rounded education.”