Rethinking assessment? VocTech offers answers

By Josh Smith, Public Affairs Officer

Josh Smith, Ufi’s Public Affairs Officer, recently attended a roundtable discussion on assessment reform. Here he shares his thoughts...

In our White Paper, we committed to advocating for change in those areas where we are not best placed to fund projects but where we are interested in seeing change.  One of these areas is the ongoing debate about reform of assessment and accreditation. We know that well designed modern modes of assessment can support the engagement of learners and deliver better outcomes for everyone.

On 6 July, I dialled into Rethinking Assessment’s latest roundtable discussion; ‘Assessment - time for a rethink?’. The panel included Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, and looked at different aspects of assessment reform currently under discussion. Interesting points were made about the neurological differences between learners, and how we should be assessing young people in a manner that is designed to help them achieve their best. It is clear that assessment and accreditation need to fit the new world of work and our changing understanding of what works best for young learners.

While the discussion focused on terminal assessment in formal education, and how this might be better organised, I feel it is also important to consider what might be done to support adults as they progress through their working life.  Adults, particularly those who have not historically benefited from traditional assessment, should have the option to gain and retain valuable qualifications throughout their lives and we should all be able to continue proving that we have the right skills, in a way that is flexible and fits around the ever-changing world of work.

"It is clear that assessment and accreditation need to fit the new world of work"

At Ufi, we have supported the City of Glasgow Colleges in developing a blockchain based method of reliable and verifiable digital certification. Records are held and controlled by learners and can be used to prove to future employers what assessments they have passed. This project also looked at the inclusion of micro-credentials, another incredibly exciting area in the future of assessment that has a chance of transforming the way people develop and validate their skills.  Micro-credentialing can allow for small scale skills development that can be reliably proven to current and future employers.

Innovation in technology

As discussions continue to take place on how we might reform England’s assessment regime, it is important to consider how innovative uses of technology can make the system more effective for those furthest from traditional provision.  It is critical that, as we make assessment more relevant to the new world of work, we do not leave behind learners already poorly served by existing structures of assessment.

In the latest VocTech Challenge, Ufi wants to support ideas that use digital tools to make a real difference to learner confidence and help level up vocational learning for adults most at risk from the growing digital divide. This could include using technology to make assessment less intimidating or more accessible for those learners who are not as confident as others. Head to the webpage to find out much more.

I am also keen to speak to as many people as possible across the EdTech, education and lifelong learning community, so if a chat sounds interesting please get in touch by emailing josh.smith@ufi.co.uk, on Twitter or LinkedIn.

You might also be interested in the ALT Annual Conference in September. Find out more here.