How the past 18 months of disruptions should spark change for the way in which students are tested.

With one in ten Secondary School pupils missing school for Covid related reasons, and a seven-fold increase in the number of pupils forced to study at home over the past fortnight, it’s perhaps surprising that the Education Secretary has announced bubbles are to be scrapped and classroom restrictions removed. Whilst this will come as a relief for many, it also reinforces why we cannot go back to the old world – and why schools must build on the lessons learnt during the pandemic.
“Let us look first at technology in the classroom. Children are now accustomed to using a computer for their schoolwork, teachers are comfortable sharing lesson content and assessing work online, and admin staff are now able to access school records securely whilst remote. Whilst we all hope that the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, who is not to say that the nation will not be hit with a flu epidemic next winter, or bad weather that forces schools to close? Going forward, all of our children – and especially their teachers – deserve a solid rest over the summer holidays, and we need them to come back refreshed and re-energised to build on these new found skills for whatever is next thrown at them.
“One example may be with examinations.  Given the skills – and technology infrastructure – that now exists within our school system, now is the time to look properly at digital assessment and look hard at how we can reduce teacher workloads when marking. The pandemic disrupted the entire education system. In the university sector, for example, adaptation to lockdown largely took the form of open book exams, that often took place in a 24-hour window, taking place for the very first time. These assessments, different to previous exam iterations, effectively elicited students’ problem-solving, creativity, and application of knowledge.
“This change in higher education brings an opportunity to not just rethink how we use technology to assess students, but also improve on established approaches and develop new methods of testing in schools and colleges.  By updating examination methods –using technology – schools will be much better positioned to reflect and record students’ performance more accurately, whilst also engaging students more effectively.
“Restrictions or none, it is time schools and governing bodies take note of what worked well during the past 18 months and apply it elsewhere. We all are secretly hoping for a legacy from the Covid-19 period that capitalises on recent events in a way that improves outcomes for all of our children.”

  Simon Carter, Director at RM