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What teachers need to know about online safety laws

Words by Charlotte Aynsley, safeguarding advisor at Impero

Given the incredible work they are doing during the pandemic, teachers and school staff may not be up to date on the latest news about internet safety legislation. But these laws will directly impact the safety of students in the years ahead, and teachers can be a powerful lobby for changes in their timing or extent, so it is important for teachers to understand the legislative landscape.

As children spend more time online, they are more likely to encounter threats. For example, the volume of child sexual abuse imagery has increased significantly during the lockdown. At Impero, our recent survey found that 64% of primary and secondary school teachers had dealt with reports of online bullying. It is clearer today than ever before that the work of safeguarding students must span both the virtual world and the real world, and these laws will affect this work. Here’s what teachers need to know about the two largest pieces of online safety legislation. 

Europe’s ePrivacy Directive

The first law worth knowing about is the European commission’s ePrivacy Directive. The directive, which has been in place for several years but is currently being updated, aims to improve the privacy of online communications. However, child safety has become an issue in discussions over the law. Debate in the European Parliament reached a deadlock at the end of 2020 about a potential exemption to the law designed to protect children from abuse.

Currently, the directive’s robust privacy policies offer respite for abusers and others who would harm children. For instance, Facebook has paused some scanning of private messages for child abuse because of the law’s current manifestation. The NSPCC has accused Facebook of going too far in this reading of the legislation and called for immediate resumption of message scanning.

Despite Brexit, many international companies and social media networks will still abide by the European directive. For that reason, the UK government has issued a statement calling for an urgent exemption to the law for child safety.

The UK’s Online Harms Bill

Some teachers may already be familiar with the Online Harms Bill. The legislation was first proposed in a 2019 white paper, intended to improve child safety online by establishing a new regulator to enforce clear rules for companies operating online. The law would create new codes of practice for companies and enforce a statutory duty of care, making it safer for young people to be online.

Unfortunately, the legislation has faced constant delays and obstacles from several directions.  For example, experts have recently suggested that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US may see the UK bow to pressure from American tech giants to water down the bill. Meanwhile, the coalition supporting a strong bill continues to grow and now includes educators, experts, and professional footballers who have experienced harassment online.

What does this mean for teachers?

Every day, teachers do an outstanding job of safeguarding students, both online and in the classroom. If handled correctly, these laws will support teachers by reducing  online threats to students and increasing the recourse that they will have if they experience bullying, abuse, or other online harm. In short, these regulations should make teachers’ lives easier – if they’re working properly – so it’s essential that the industry is aware of them and gets behind them.

The world’s largest online professional development conference for English language educators returns for a third year

Monday 22 February, Oxford, UK – Oxford University Press (OUP) is preparing to host 23,000 English language teachers at its English Language Teaching Online Conference (ELTOC) later this week. This is more than twice as many as attended last year’s conference, with registrants to this year’s event coming from 166 countries including places as varied as Peru, Germany, Kazakhstan, and the Cook Islands.

 

The three-day event, which runs between 25 and 27 February, will provide practical tips and explore current trends in the industry through its suite of expert speakers from across the English language teaching world. Key topics to be covered in this year’s conference will include, among others:

 

  • Classroom motivation
  • Learner agency, and why it’s important
  • Alternative ways of teaching and learning: Online, blended, hybrid and socially distanced classrooms

 

Teachers will have the opportunity to engage with some of the most pressing topics in the industry today, and all attendees will receive free professional development resources and a certificate of attendance.

 

As educators worldwide continue to rely on digital materials to support remote learning, OUP recognized the appetite among teachers to seek professional development and connect with their peers online.

 

Peter Marshall, Managing Director of OUP’s English Language Teaching division said:As teachers across the globe seek to navigate an uncertain and fast-changing environment, we want to do all we can to help them adapt, develop, and support their students—especially when faced with a future where teaching is increasingly reliant on digital technologies.

 

Alongside the practical learning sessions, attendees will have the chance to connect, network, and engage in interactive opportunities with one another. ‘We know from previous ELTOC events that both teachers and remote educators have found comfort in the sense of community the event provides—something that is more important than ever this year,’ said Sarah Ultsch, Marketing Director of OUP’s English Language Teaching division, and founder of ELTOC. ‘As well as giving educators the opportunity to connect and obtain world-class professional development virtually, we can, in turn, improve the learning experience for thousands of people all over the world.’

 

Reflecting on ELTOC 2020, one attendee said: ‘it felt like I had forgotten what it was like to learn, share, communicate and everything was coming back again” while another said that the normality of attending the conference and networking with others in the field simply made them “feel like a teacher again, and that is priceless’.

 

ELTOC is free to attend and runs from 25 February to 27 February, 2021.

 

Find out more and sign up here.

 

The most innovative and ultra safe digital school board launched today

Prowise’s newest product brings digital schooling to another level. Today, they have launched their best touchscreen yet. With outstanding writing experience, high privacy and security standards, and other smart solutions, it’s offering top performance in the classroom and during remote learning. This new product is already nominated for a coveted BETT Award and a iF Design Award. Meet the brand new Prowise Touchscreen Ten. 

 

Over the years, traditional chalkboards had to make room for their digital successors.

Today, the most complete and state of the art solution has been launched: the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. This all-in-one screen is everything one needs to teach and follow digital classes. 

 

The best writing experience yet

Several technologies are used for the Prowise Touchscreen Ten, in order to create the best writing experience. The powerful ProWrite Touch Technology is directly integrated within the glass panel. This results in the ultimate pen-on-paper experience, with blazing fast writing speed and optimal writing accuracy. The screen has 40 touch points, which makes it possible to write, erase and use tools all at the same time. The so-called display bonding technology sticks the glass panel to the LCD panel, removing the space in between. This way, the user is able to write more accurately, smoothly and quicker than ever before on a Prowise screen. Moreover, display bonding reduces the glare on the screen, since external lighting is not reflected. In order to limit glare, reflection, and fingerprints, nano-texture was applied directly on the glass panel. Apple is offering this technology, at an additional price, on their iMacs. All these technologies work seamlessly together with ProNote, the company’s own developed software, offering the best writing experience on a digital board. 

 

Security

The Prowise Touchscreen Ten is the pinnacle of security. The user is in total control of their data. Only they can access their own data and grant other users permission to see or use their information. Everything is hosted from their own dedicated server, which can only be reached by its user. Both hardware and software are developed in-house by Prowise and have been tested by a team of independent professional hackers. Prowise is the only digital school screen supplier with an ISO 27001-certificate and a pending BSI-certification. Certification from these leading independent authorities confirms the incredible safety of the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. To avoid inappropriate apps and content from being visible and downloaded, Prowise created their own Appstore. All apps have been screened by a test team, ensuring that only school-proof applications make the cut.

 

Erik Neeskens, Chief Sales Officer at Prowise: “11 years of experience come together in our latest product. I am extremely proud of the result and everybody who worked on this major project. The Prowise Touchscreen Ten is outstanding and distinct from its competitors by design and technology. Digital schooling has never been so easy and fun. For us, it’s a perfect ten!”

 

For teachers

This new digital school solution was developed from a teacher’s point of view, using their feedback in order to make a product that fulfils their needs and wishes. Most of their desires are now integrated in the Prowise Touchscreen Ten. This educational game changer comes with a Prowise MOVE-camera, 6 microphones, a 2.1 soundbar that provides perfect sound to every corner of the room, and gives direct access to Teams, Meet, Skype and Zoom. No other devices are needed, which makes it the perfect all-in-one product for interactive (home)schooling.

 

Learning through motion

Some children learn better when they are actively and physically engaged. Learning through motion aligns with the way children experience the world around them. Furthermore, it is healthy and improves the learning abilities. Previous Prowise Touch Screens were already the only ones worldwide that offered a fully integrated solution for learning through motion and video calling (remote learning). The Touchscreen Ten takes it one step further by offering even more possibilities and improved functions. The Prowise MOVE camera allows you to play educational games on the Prowise Touchscreen without physically touching it. The combination of the camera with Intel® RealSense™ and the technology in the screen register motion, and connects this to the movements on the screen. Prowise has developed its own range of educational games for MOVE. These games trigger pupils to get in motion while they are completing cognitive learning activities. The games are suitable for children of various ages and available in different subject areas.

 

Sustainability

Children deserve both great education and a carefree future in a climate neutral environment. To fulfil both of these goals, Prowise aims to minimise its ecological footprint as much as possible. The company continuously strives for the best sustainable performance during the production process, making powerful devices that consume less energy, good working conditions in the factory and use the best disposal procedure. To compensate for their CO2 emission, the company plants one tree for every sold screen. One tree absorbs 20 kg CO2 per year, which equals the footprint of actively using a Prowise touchscreen for half-a-year.

 

For more information or demo request: www.prowise.com/touchscreen

The John Warner School improves its network performance with a smart, cloud-networking WiFi 6 solution from Redway Networks.

The John Warner school has improved wireless connectivity and future-proofed its network for the next ten years with a new next-generation WiFi 6 solution from education wireless experts Redway Networks. The transition to Cisco Meraki has given the school a hyper-secure wireless network that delivers faster speeds and more capacity for its high-density environment with simple cloud-based network performance monitoring.  

John Warner is a mixed-secondary school with academy status, based in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. The school has expanded considerably over the last ten years and today it has 1,332 pupils who benefit from its many facilities. With numerous of school-owed and bring your own devices (BYOD) connecting to the network simultaneously, it was vital that the school created a robust, secure wireless network infrastructure that would improve mobility and enhance its learning environment, whilst keeping students safe online.

Current WiFi reaches its end of life.

Chris Baker, IT Network Manager at The John Warner School says: “We were having issues with our existing Ruckus access points failing as they had come to the end of their life, so we urgently needed to replace our WiFi. Our school has grown significantly over the years with more students and additional buildings.  With this expansion, keeping everything connected increased so we needed a more superior network that would provide reliable wireless coverage and secure network access for students and teachers with the classroom engagement and technology resources they deserve. We also wanted to move to a next-generation WiFi 6 solution that would support multi-user capacity with improved performance and speed.  In addition, we wanted a cloud-based WiFI solution that would be easy to manage without compromising on performance.”

Chris continues: “I’d had correspondence from Redway Networks and knew they had a good reputation in the education sector.  I initially contacted Redway to quote on an Aruba Central solution as I’d had a previous quote so wanted to compare.”

Redway Networks organised a WebEx meeting to run through the school’s wireless requirements and once these were met, Redway was able to use its independent wireless expertise to recommend other solutions in addition to Aruba. Chris says: “I was really impressed with Redway’s WiFi knowledge and they explained the different options and benefits of each WiFi 6 solution.  I was originally focussed on Aruba, but Meraki really caught my attention for its powerful simplicity in providing complete network visibility and management with no hardware or controllers, all from an easy-to-use cloud dashboard.” 

Chris continues: “Meraki was slightly more expensive than Aruba, but with Meraki’s “first year on us” promotion, we bought a 10-year software licence with 1 year free (Aruba only offered 5) consequently both products worked out about the same price, so I was really pleased that Redway persuaded me to look at Meraki.”

School selects Meraki WiFi 6

Redway Networks then provided Meraki’s cloud-managed access points (Aps) with an 11-year centralised cloud-managed licence (which delivers automatic firmware upgrades) and services including wireless survey, design, engineering and configuration. Due to COVID-19, Redway’s engineer conducted the WiFi survey remotely using the school’s building plans to model the wireless network environment and determine access point (AP) positioning, coverage and performance with the design verified using Ekahau’s visual heat mapping software.

Redway delivers exceptional WiFi design   

Chris says: “I was really impressed with the design service we got from Redway Networks, in particular the WiFi visualisations and configuration plan.  I did a couple of minor tweaks to the initial design, but these were purely based on AP positioning for example, how easy would it be to get a cable to the AP so this determined positioning slightly.”   With the designs approved Redway installed Meraki across the school’s six buildings and it is now benefiting from a well-designed, high performance wireless local area network (WLAN) that delivers seamless connectivity and has improved network security.

School benefits from superior WiFi and network security

Chris says: “From an administrative point of view Meraki is very simple to use so managing network devices or checking and updating access points can be done easily on the spot through the Meraki App on my mobile phone.  Hence, I’ve saved a considerable amount of time in network management which has given me more time to look at enhancing our school’s technology needs.  Our new WiFI has also given us an extra layer of network security.  Previously, we’d always had issues with the network restrictions we’d put in place as students and staff could still get through the controls and access printers etc but Meraki has stopped that”.

Chris concludes: “We now have significantly better network coverage with much faster WiFi and staff have commented on how clear the imagery comes across in online meetings such as MS Teams.  Redway Networks has been knowledgeable throughout the whole project and the service we’ve received has been exceptional.  From the initial phone conversation, through to the product recommendations, design period, implementation and final survey – everything has been 100%.”

LEGATUM INSTITUTE PUBLISHES IMPACT ANALYSIS OF SCHOOL RE-OPENING DECISION

A new report by the Legatum Institute provides a holistic analysis of the costs and benefits associated with re-opening schools in England at various points between now and the autumn.

 

The report builds on the proof-of-concept tool developed by the Institute in December 2020 and allows decision makers to understand:

 

  • Direct health effects associated with rising transmission of the virus as a result of schools re-opening.
  • Indirect health effects associated with changes in health service and care system provision, and behaviour and health impacts that are related to these impacts but are not caused by the virus itself.
  • Long-term economic effects associated with learning loss resulting from school closures.
  • Short-term economic effects associated with parents taking on more childcare responsibilities as a result of school closures.
  • Wellbeing impacts on children associated with school closures.

 

Based on this understanding of the costs and benefits and using of the concept of Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) to assess health, social and economic costs on a consistent basis, the report demonstrates how decision makers can make an evidence-based assessment of the net social costs or benefits of opening schools on different dates.

 

The report also provides a sensitivity analysis to show how different assumptions about the underlying transmission rate (R) in society in the absence of any policy changes and the impact on R leading from schools re-opening affect the results.

 

The report finds that:

 

  • Primary schools returning on 8th March would create a net benefit to society[1].
  • Secondary schools returning 8th March alongside primary schools would also give a net benefit to society[2].
  • Primary schools returning on 22nd February would have been a net benefit only if the impact of opening schools on R is towards the low end of expected ranges.

 

Baroness Philippa Stroud, CEO of Legatum Institute, said:

 

“Covid-19 has fundamentally impacted all of us – affecting our health, our relationships, and our livelihoods. Policy makers are now faced with an unenviable task of making choices on how to unwind restrictions in a way that balances significant health, economic, and social costs and benefits.

 

“To date, this has largely taken place without much publicly available information on the basis of and evidence for these decisions. But this report, and our original proof-of-concept tool, shows that does not need to be the case. Our research demonstrates that this difficult subject can be approached in an objective and structured fashion, so that decision makers can fully understand the complex issues at hand and the various costs and benefits of different courses of action.

 

“We believe that by using and building on this approach and the evidence it provides, the UK Government and others stand a greater chance of making decisions that deliver the best overall outcomes for individuals, families, and communities across the UK. Our approach also provides a way for policymakers and politicians to communicate the evidence behind, and build public trust in, the choices being made.”

[1] Unless a value of a QALY of two to three times the standard HM Treasury valuation is used.

[2] Unless vaccinations are not as effective as expected in bringing infection rate down

 

 

Resources and educational tools launched to support children’s mental health

  • eduu.school and Kooth partner to provide critical mental health education, support and services to children

 

  • The online learning platform offers extensive mental health support through an integrated curriculum

 

London, 19 February 2021 – Online mental wellbeing service Kooth and online learning platform eduu.school, in partnership with Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust, GLUU and Hodder Education Group, today announced a co-curated mental health-focused curriculum. The ground-breaking partnership will provide students using eduu.school with direct access to support via Kooth.com, including an anonymous self-referral platform, magazines, forums, activity centres and text-based, professional counselling.

 

The new partnership integrates mental health support into the digital curriculum, ensuring children are supported at all levels through their educational development. Mental health resources and support mechanisms provided by Kooth will be blended into the eduu.school digital curriculum for key stages three and four, with over 1,600 hours of resources for each key stage.

 

The integration aims to make the support and resources a part of the everyday learning experience, destigmatising mental wellbeing. The pandemic has exacerbated mental health problems for many young people. Kooth’s January data* indicates a bleak image: 39 percent of young people are presenting with anxiety and 21 percent are self-harming, with another 21 percent experiencing suicidal thoughts, an increase of 40 percent and 47 percent on the same week last year, respectively.

 

Sir Mark Grundy, CEO, Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust and eduu.school partner said: “There has never been a more urgent need to adjust our curriculum and pedagogies to reflect the emerging landscape resulting from COVID-19 and DfE remote learning guidelines. The education system needs to respond quickly but thoughtfully to help our children by evolving a new model which places equal emphasis on wellbeing and attainment.”

 

Tim Barker, CEO, Kooth said: “At Kooth, we are focused on delivering effective, personalised mental health care for everyone. Greater integration of mental health into the curriculum will prompt discussions, reduce stigma and ensure that students know that there is help available if they need it. At a time when more students are struggling than ever before, we believe that our collaboration with eduu.school is an important step toward providing the additional support that they deserve.”

 

The co-curated mental health and wellbeing programme will include integrations with Office365, Google Classroom and other popular platforms, and offer options for both synchronous and asynchronous learning and assessment. The content has been designed to meet Ofsted requirements for remote learning and DfE remote learning guidelines, and it will be accessible to students whether they are learning from home or attending school in-person.

Lycamobile joins BBC campaign to support home schooling

  • Lycamobile will work alongside the BBC to provide SIM cards to school children across England, Wales, and Scotland through the charity Business2Schools
  • The collaboration is an extension of BBC’s successful ‘Give a Laptop’ campaign which saw thousands of laptops donated to school kids

As families across the country adjust to home schooling, increasing access to data has become a major priority.

Online educational resources, which often involve videos and dynamic content, can be costly if families do not have access to unlimited broadband or mobile data packages. For the nearly 2 million families that do not have access to any internet services, accessing these resources is impossible.

To ensure that no family is left behind, Lycamobile is donating SIM cards with 20GB of free data to families across England, Wales, and Scotland as part of a campaign led by the BBC. The SIM cards will be distributed by the charity Business2Schools to eligible families that need them most, ensuring that kids can continue their education.

Navanit Narayan, Group Chief Operating Officer of Lycamobile, said:

“Lycamobile is proud to work alongside the BBC and Business2Schools to increase access to data for families struggling to facilitate online learning. We are determined to support our customers and their families through the pandemic. It is our hope that, by donating these SIM cards, vulnerable children will be able to continue their education without their families having to worry about bills at the end of the month.”

Throughout the pandemic, we have maintained our committed to supporting our customers and their families through these difficult times. Last year Lycamobile launched a programme in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sports to give NHS heroes a free month of our Unlimited International Plan with an ongoing 20% discount thereafter; and earlier this year, we partnered with the Department for Education to deliver free data to families across England.

To find out more about our covid support initiatives please visit https://www.lycamobile.co.uk/covidsupport.php.

To learn more about Business2Schools and the BBC Give a Laptop campaign, please visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5SqHJMTKZx5sYhlltXJvB1Q/give-a-laptop.

 

AIR PURIFICATION SYSTEM HALVES AIRBORNE PATHOGENS IN SCHOOLS

A study undertaken by The University of Lincoln has revealed that airborne pathogens in a classroom environment can be significantly reduced by the use of effective air purification systems.  The report was commissioned by Intratek, providers of some of the world leading air purification systems, and shows that the levels of airborne micro-organisms can be reduced by around 50% with an effective air purification system. This project was fully funded by The Productivity Programme for Greater Lincolnshire which is a European Regional Development Fund Programme.

 

The independent investigation by the University of Lincoln into the efficacy of Intratek’s biocidal air handling unit looked at differences in the levels of microbial growth between treated and untreated air.  The University’s scientific team found statistically-significant differences when the air handling unit was operational and concluded that, on average, bacterial counts dropped by half and fungal counts reduced by around two thirds when the unit was in a closed room environment.

 

The report is of particular significance considering the threat posed in schools by airborne pathogens, including respiratory viruses such as Covid 19*.  The law requires schools to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air as well as good ventilation.  This, coupled with social distancing and frequent handwashing, are some of the key measures schools need to introduce if they are to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Good ventilation reduces the concentration of pathogens in the air and therefore reduces the risks from airborne transmission. This happens when people breathe in small particles (aerosols) that can be present in the air after someone with a virus has occupied an enclosed area.  During the cold winter months, providing adequate ventilation can pose challenges in keeping pupils and staff warm.  Using an effective air purification system can help provide clean air without the cold.

 

The Tiokraft products, sold by Intratek Ltd, use a patented photocatalytic filtration system that is designed to service the maximum amount of contaminated air.  The systems eliminate pathogens and microflora by the photocatalytic process of oxidation. Unlike most purification machines, Tiokraft therefore do not use replaceable particulate absorbing filters which can clog up and need changing on average every month. Tiokraft products need no maintenance so the overall lifetime cost is reduced significantly.

 

Matthew Alexander, Director at Intratek, comments: “This research should be a welcome boost for schools looking to provide a safer environment for pupils and teachers. The government’s advice on ensuring clean air helps reduce the risk of pathogens spreading and our air purification systems are now proven to remove microorganisms from air.” 

 

In the study, air treated by Intratek’s biocidal air handling unit was tested twice daily over a22 day period. The report concluded that there was an, “Overall reduction seen in bacterial and fungal counts as a function of air handling.  This has led to an overall reduction seen in bacterial / fungal counts taken from an environment.”

 

Intratek are leaders in fresh ideas and new, affordable technology. The company works across the business, education and manufacturing sectors offering a range of products to suit budgets and business requirements.  For more information visit www.intrakekltd.com.

NASA and Discovery Education Invite Teachers and Students Worldwide to Join the Exploration of Mars Through a Special Livestream of the Perseverance Rover’s Landing

 

On February 18, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance Rover is set to touch down on Mars and begin exploration of the Red Planet. To commemorate this historic occasion, Discovery Education—the global leader in curriculum-aligned digital resources, engaging content, and professional learning for primary and secondary classrooms—is partnering with NASA to bring students worldwide a special no-cost livestream of this momentous event.  

 

This special livestream of the Perseverance rover’s landing on Mars is scheduled to begin on Thursday, February 18 at 7:15 p.m. GMT.   Featuring insights from NASA experts and a behind-the-scenes look at the activities of the Perseverance mission control team, the livestream will culminate with the rover’s real-time touchdown on Mars. To register to attend this event, visit Discovery Education’s Mars Landing Livestream homepage.

 

In addition to the livestream, Discovery Education and NASA are making available exclusive resources supporting the integration of NASA’s latest mission to Mars into teaching. A new ‘Missions to Mars’ channel within the upgraded version of Discovery Education Espresso includes engaging videos and fun factsheets to help primary school children learn about different space missions and explore the red planet as they countdown to touchdown.  Using these resources, teachers can fuel student interest in space, build knowledge, and check for understanding about relevant topics.  

 

“Space exploration has the unique ability to inspire students’ imaginations, especially in the fields of STEM,” said Mike Kincaid, NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Office of STEM Engagement. “We’re excited to partner with Discovery Education to bring the extraordinary innovation of the Mars 2020 Landing to students nationwide.”

 

Following the Perseverance rover’s landing on Mars, the livestream will be archived on the upgraded version of Discovery Education Espresso. Discovery Education’s award-winning service connects primary school teachers to a vast collection of compelling high-quality, curriculum-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, and professional learning resources. Together, these resources give teachers everything they need to facilitate instruction in any learning environment and create lasting educational impact.

 

Discovery Education’s team continues adding, contextualising, and organising exciting new content and timely resources to the platform each month in response to current events and the ever-evolving needs of teachers. These resources, sourced from trusted partners, are aligned to the National Curriculum and help educators to bring the outside world into teaching and learning every day.

 

“Discovery Education is thrilled to partner with NASA to bring the landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars to students worldwide,” said Scott Kinney, Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Education. “Events like this take students to places they could never visit and help them see the ‘real world’ applications of what they are learning in the classroom while also driving deeper engagement and, ultimately, higher academic achievement.”

 

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning services, visit www.discoveryeducation.co.uk and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Pearson launches major national consultation into the future of qualifications and assessment in the UK

  • For the second year running Covid-19 will fundamentally impact exams in the UK 
  • Pearson is launching a major national consultation looking at the wider issue of assessment and qualifications for 14-19 year olds, amid national debate on the future of GCSEs 
  • Leading UK and international education experts will help guide the multistage research project  

 

Pearson, the world’s learning company, has today launched a major new consultation seeking views on what an effective system of assessment and qualification looks like for young people between 14 and 19. 

 

The national consultation will engage learners, parents, educators, employers and parliamentarians to get their views on how the system of qualifications and assessment in England can best deliver for students between the ages of 14 and 19 and enable them to successfully meet the opportunities and challenges of the changing economy and world of work. 

 

The consultation will run from 15 Feb – 31 March and is the first step in an ongoing project that will draw on a panel of esteemed education experts and external research partners – culminating in a final report in Autumn 2021.  

 

Rod Bristow, President UK & Global Online Learning, Pearson said: 

 

“For the second year running, COVID-19 will force us all to adapt and rethink how we both educate and assess our young people. 

 

“While we work with the government, schools and colleges and other exam boards to make sure the system delivers for learners in 2021, we also have a responsibility to look further ahead and use this unique moment to consider all of the issues. 

 

“So far, public debate is focussing narrowly on whether GCSEs should be scrapped but we recognise that GCSEs are just one stage in the age 14 to 19 journey. Coherence across all stages of education is essential and Covid aside, we need to ensure what young people learn, how they learn it and how it is assessed, is fit for the 21st century.” 

 

The consultation will consider three fundamental areas: 

 

  • Conditions and Environment: exploring shifting requirements of the digital first generation and how wider economic, technological, and societal trends are impacting both the demands of, and requirements for, today’s learners. 
  • Purpose and Value: considering the role that education within the 14-19 phase should play in helping develop confident and well-rounded learners and supporting their life aspirations. 
  • Trust and Equity: exploring issues around fairness and coherence in the system to maintain public confidence in qualifications and assessment, and to ensure that the system delivers equitably for all learners and serves the diversity of the UK. 

 

The findings of the consultation will be published in an interim report in May and inform a second phase of qualitative research by an external research partner. To guide the project, and set the direction for the second phase research, Pearson has assembled a panel of educational experts representing assessment and qualifications, academia, former Education Secretaries and Ministers, and leading sector representative bodies (see notes for full list). 

 

“With our global reach, we know that consumer demands and behaviours do not stand still. For us to contribute towards solving the biggest challenges of our time – including climate change and social inequality – it’s clear that we have to fully enable the passion and purpose of our employees in order to succeed. Therefore, it’s clear to us that the education system must reflect today’s challenges and do everything to make sure that every learner is able to reach their potential.” Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Office, Unilever 

 

“Recent years have emphasised the importance of STEM in an increasingly data and information driven global economy. What we cannot overlook however, is the critical importance of people skills, fostering a growth mindset and enabling a culture for success.  Are we doing enough to ensure our young people have the balance of these skills, the emotional intelligence and the entrepreneurial edge to succeed? Those are important questions for this vital project.” Jo Marke, Global Learning Delivery Leader, IBM1