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Head's Blog

Bringing the assessment process into the 21st Century

I have been reflecting a lot recently on the evolution of education and its pivotal shift away from a focus purely on academic success, towards more of a focus on how we are instilling creative thinking and problem-solving skills. 

I read an interesting blog by Vicky Bingham, the Headteacher at South Hampstead High School recently who reflected on how we need to bring our assessment process at GCSE and A-Level into the 21st Century, but it did make me wonder how it is then transferred even at a pre-prep level to the measure of our pupils’ success when entering some of the best junior schools at 7+.

Almost a decade ago, the assessment process at 7+ was heavily weighted on the pupils’ academic success and the passing of a paper, before they would consider any of their successful learning skills. Since then, I must say that I have seen some marked improvements in the way in which our young pupils’ success is measured, but it is far from where I hoped it would be at this stage.

Fast forwarding now, the World Economic ‘Future of Jobs’ report (2020) predicted the top ten skills in 2025 will be;

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Active learning and learning strategies
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Creativity, originality and initiative
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Technology use, monitoring and control
  • Technology design and programming
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation

Even when we look at the top 5, the focus is on innovation, active learning, problem solving, creativity and critical thinking. Now, I am not suggesting that building core skills in Literacy and Maths or other subject areas will not support the development of these key skills, but I do feel that, if we are hoping for these skills within our own workforce and we are committed to instilling an innovative education to our young children, then why have we not overhauled the way in which we assess our young children for the future and even recruit our employees to lead in these areas?

The job landscape is inevitably changing with the evolution of AI technology. The World Economic Forum recently shared that by 2025, we will see a shift in growing job demands in AI and Machine Learning Specialists, Data Analysts and Scientists, Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists and Software Developers and in parallel, a decrease in Accountants, Data Entry Clerks and Administrative Work.

I am hopeful that the education system and the way in which we assess our young people can create an environment where we assess the successes of our pupils based truly on the future of the skills and attitudes that they are going to need, and not purely on how well they have developed their exam skills.

After all, as Edward De Bono once said, “There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” – Edward De Bono