2 December 2022

Season's greetings to all our members.

After a turbulent year politically, when colleagues working in education have seen an unprecedent turnover of Ministers at the Department for Education, it appears that we are now entering a period of relative stability with the focus back on what is being done rather than who is entrusted to do it. And wherever you look, there is a lot to do.

As we reach the end of 2022, we are definitely now in the post-pandemic world.  However, while we may now be ‘living with COVID’, it certainly feels that across many sectors of our education and training system colleagues are still grappling with its after-effects. In schools, colleges and training providers the scale of the ‘catch-up’ task remains daunting. For example, some recent research on Year 3 pupils indicated a significant increase in the numbers of pupils failing to reach expected standards of performance in literacy and numeracy compared with pre-pandemic levels.  The impact of lost schooling on physical, social and emotional development, while harder to measure, is also being commented upon by Ofsted amongst others. While 2022 has seen some improvements, closing these gaps and addressing the deeply entrenched divide between pupils from well-off compared to those from poorer households remains a huge challenge.

At the other end of the age range, the appointment of Robert Halfon as Minister of State overseeing FE and apprenticeship sector may see more emphasis given to the ‘cinderalla service’.  As chair of the Education Select Committee, he was a vocal supporter of FE and the need to improve the range and quality of vocational provision. Whether in these financially straightened times he will have the resources to deliver remains to be seen.

In assessment terms, as we look ahead to 2023, the ‘return to normality’ agenda dominates. On the last day of November, Ofqual announced its plans for next summer – which in timing alone marks an improvement on announcements for previous years. The expectation from here on in is that in assessment practice and results, next year will witness our systems moving closer to where we were in 2019, although the important caveat was added that there will be “some protection against any impact of COVID-19 disruption”. Teachers and lecturers will be keen to understand exactly what that means. Back to the future seems to be the chosen the way ahead.

Finally, I would like to thank all members who responded to our recent online survey. As we analyse the responses, there is clearly an appetite to engage with a range of areas where assessment plays a key role including the early years, vocational qualifications, international assessment provision and developments across the UK. We will have more to say on this early in the New Year.

I hope all our members enjoy their Christmas and New Year break.

Simon Sharp

Chair, CIEA