The Independent Assessment Commission (IAC) has today (14th September) published 'THE FUTURE OF ASSESSMENT AND QUALIFICATIONS IN ENGLAND', its Interim Report considering the future of exams in England.

The IAC, which reflects the growing and broad coalition advocating change, has concluded that there is an overwhelming case for changing the current system of assessment and that the time to begin that process is now. 

They say that the current system:

  • Is not fit for the future; 
  • Is not sufficiently reliable, authentic or fair;  
  • Does not support high standards of education for all; 
  • Undermines student and teacher mental health

In looking at what change looks like the IAC has developed 5 ‘New ERA principles’. 

The IAC are clear that these principles are not being delivered under the current system and that they should underpin future change 

The New ERA principles will deliver a fairer, more reliable and better system for pupils, parents, teachers and for our society and economy. 

The IAC are clear that underpinning our country’s assessment system with these five principles will ensure our assessment framework is fit for purpose.


PRINCIPLE 1:  Qualifications and assessment should serve the individual. They should provide information to all young people, their parents/carers and users of qualifications about the knowledge, skills and competences young people have to allow them to flourish, to participate in the community, and to make good progress in the next stage of their lives, in employment, college or university.   
PRINCIPLE 2:  Qualifications and assessment should be recognised to be part of a wider education system including curriculum, pedagogy and accountability. Care should be taken to ensure that approaches to accountability do not distort qualifications.   

Qualifications and assessment should serve the future needs of society, culture and the economy to enable the nation and young people to thrive in less predictable times socially and economically, nationally and internationally.

PRINCIPLE 4:  Qualifications and assessment should be inclusive both in purpose and in the design and development of the system.   
PRINCIPLE 5:  Qualifications and assessment should support progression for all young people, but should not exist only to act as a mechanism for determining the next examination or selection.  

We need a system that assists rather than hinders our ability as a country to meet the multiple social and economic challenges we as a country will face in the future, including how we address, adapt to, and mitigate climate change.

Professor Louise Hayward said:

“What underpins all five New ERA principles is the commission's shared belief that the current system does not deliver on these vital foundations for an equitable, reliable assessment system.”

“Central to all five New ERA principles is a deep understanding of how currently far too many people leave school with too little to show for their time there.” 

“Too many young people are giving everything and leaving with little to show for their time at school.”

“Delivering on New ERA principles requires change to the system in its present form.”

“Exams should be just one part of a wider assessment system for everyone, which would measure many skills and competencies. This would move the focus beyond just academic skills and would provide all young people with recognition that acts as a measure and recognition that they can use to help move them forward in the next stage of their life journey.”

“Ending cliff edge exams will also help the well-being of young people, their parents and teachers. We have heard from young people and teachers during the research and found that the current system is taking a terrible toll on too many young people and teachers.” 

“This cannot be right; a system making our children unwell is a system that has to change”

“This has to change. The time to start the process of change is now”.

“The New ERA principles will deliver a fairer, more reliable and better system for pupils, parents, teachers and for our society and economy.”

“Underpinning our country’s assessment system with these five principles will ensure it is fit for purpose and assists rather than hinders our ability as a country to meet the multiple social and economic challenges we face, including how we address, adapt to and mitigate climate change”.

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