Exam systems need to focus on more than just the final grades

There are many ways in which the assessment system could encourage more creativity in schools.

Richard Garner
Tuesday 04 November 2014 10:19 GMT

Introducing more searching questions at A-level to encourage students to get more of a feel for their subject, and encouraging take-up of extended projects – designed to promote creative writing and thinking skills – will both play a large part.

But perhaps the secondary sector could take a leaf out of the universities’ books, where an increasing number have signed up for the Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear) project advocated by professor Bob Burgess, until recently vice-chancellor of University of Leicester. He has long argued the current degree system of firsts, seconds and thirds is an anachronism in today’s world and tells you little about individual students.

Instead, he says, students should complete their degree studies by being given a portfolio that registers their achievements in a range of activities – including participation in societies, voluntary work and sporting achievement – that tell you a little bit more about a student’s character.

The first tentative steps towards something along these lines has already been taken up by Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt (pictured) who floated the idea of a new national baccalaureate – which could concentrate on these skills areas as well as the traditional academic demands of the English Baccalaureate, introduced by the former Education Secretary Michael Gove.

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