Our 19th century curriculum and assessment system is not fit to prepare young people for the 21st century workplace.
The content and approach of what we assess is too narrow, focusing predominantly on knowledge acquisition and written, time-bound exams rather than a wider portfolio of skills, experiences and competencies. This bleeds into our curriculum where the current emphasis on factual recall, over deep thinking, is restrictive. Teachers are spending a disproportionate amount of time preparing students for high-stakes exams and this is squeezing out time for students to develop team-working, creative problem solving and communication skills.
At Edge, we have long called for reform of our curriculum and assessment model.   And we are not the only ones calling for change – recent commissions such as the Rethinking Assessment movement, Independent Assessment Commission, Times Education Commission, and House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee have also called for change
The churn in political leadership within education is notorious and we have seen a shortness of policy memory in the sector. More than anything, we urge policy makers to build on lessons of the past and to apply these lessons to current policy-making.
Here are the steps we can take:
For the curriculum
- Abolish EBacc and Progress 8 performance measures which force schools to teach a narrow range of academic subjects and restrict curriculum choice.
- In their place, review the National Curriculum – taking a systems-wide review to design an engaging curriculum that incorporates a truly broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and behaviour and links this to relevant real world examples. The review would also consider teacher workload and options to free up teacher time and autonomy.
- Teaching supported by innovative technology with every young person having access to an internet-enabled device to underpin their learning. Teachers would be supported to make the most of this technology.
- Create a broad baccalaureate and learner profile at age 18 to truly reflect young people’s wider talents. This should be complemented by a digital learner profile which highlights learner’s formal qualifications, but also their personal interests, independent projects, work experience, evidence of creativity and collaboration and achievements outside of school
- Introduce multimodal assessment – Progress does not have to be measured primarily through time-bound written exams. We would include a greater variety of coursework, oral presentations, extended investigation and multiple-choice assessment. These changes would need to be incorporated into teacher Continuing Professional Development and Initial Teacher Training so that educators feel equipped to own and drive these shifts
- Less summative, more formative - Not everything needs to be summative high-stakes assessment. Formative assessment can instead offer a touch-point for students and teachers to reflect on learning and build on feedback.
- Develop and make full use of destination measures - building on existing underused data to help schools and colleges understand the long-term destinations of their students.
- Launch a national review of the role of Ofsted to ensure that the inspection and accountability regime moves from an adversarial to a performance improvement role– similar to inspectorates in the other three nations.
 It’s time to reform the way we do assessment | Edge Foundation
 Why now’s the perfect time to fix our broken assessment system | Edge Foundation
 The Edge Foundation at the Conservative Party Conference 2021 | Edge Foundation
 UCL and Edge Foundation (2021) - Inspection across the UK: how the four nations intend to contribute to school improvement - https://www.edge.co.uk/research/projects/research-reports/Inspection-across-the-UK-how-the-four-nations-intend-to-contribute-to-school-improvement/