At Edge, we believe that a broad and balanced education should equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to reach their full potential in their working and broader lives. Underpinning this, we need a rich curriculum offer, supported by a credible assessment system that celebrates and values the range of talents of all of our young people.
However, embarrassing failures like 2020’s exam results fiasco have thrown our assessment system under the spotlight. Cracks are beginning to show. And with two years of exams cancelled, now must surely be the time for fundamental reform of our assessment system.
Why is this important?
Simply put, our 19th century curriculum and assessment system is not fit to prepare young people for the 21st century workplace.
We currently have a system which prioritises a rigid set of high-stakes, cliff-edge exams, with young people finding the exam system increasingly stressful. Our teachers are experiencing a significant workload crisis, spending hours preparing students for high-stakes exams rather than teaching for the joy of teaching and supporting learning. We also have a highly competitive, marketised system focused on performance management and rewarding institutional performance in a narrow range of exams assessment approaches. But this doesn’t credit a broader skill set or reward individuals who are thoughtful team players, creative problem-solvers or excellent communicators.
What is our vision at Edge?
- Instead, our curriculum and assessment system should blend together to celebrate a broader range of knowledge as well as technical and transferrable skills such as: problem solving, communication, self-management, teamwork, creativity, numeracy and digital skills.
- For example, the 14-19 phase could culminate at age 19 with a graduation or baccalaureate-style award that is assessed in a range of ways (multi-modal) and provides a portfolio of projects and evidence.
- Teachers should be given the time and space to work with staff across departments and with employers to create exciting cross-curricular lessons. We are supporting teachers to do this through our Edge teacher externships which involves teachers visiting a local employer, observing how their subject is used in business, and then planning a project in school linked to real-life examples.
- All learners learn differently and rather than enforcing a strict linear approach, we would advocate for the system to move from being determined by ‘age’ to ‘stage’.
What are we doing about this?
We want to involve everyone with an interest in reforming assessment and join up all of the great strands of work taking place in this area. Click below to learn more about our work and how you can join us in calling for change.