Publication Source

Social media gets a bad rap, especially when it comes to things like young people’s mental health. Like many reading this blog, I have an X and LinkedIn account and, on balance, I feel I get more from these platforms than I feel they detract from me. They are a good way to keep abreast of developments in the wonderful world of FE, as well as other areas in which I’m interested, and another recent positive development is the rise of podcasts.

There are many good podcasts related to FE and one of these is the EDSK pod, Inside Your EdA recent episode focused on the Advanced British Standard and the implications of this for policymakers and the sector. A couple of facts jumped out at me from this episode, both of which I knew, but the podcast brought them right back to the forefront of my attention.

The first was the fact students in the English FE system are exposed to way fewer study hours than their peers in other advanced nations: 580 compared to 950 in Finland, 1000 in Germany and 1300 in Singapore. The second fact was that English students in post-compulsory education are massively over-assessed compared to their peers elsewhere. This was a wider point emphasised in a recent Guardian article featuring Estonia which is one of the best performing nations at Key Stage 4 as measured by the OECD’s Programme for International Assessment (PISA). At Key Stage 4, in Estonia students sit exams in just three subjects.

In a time when we constantly hear about the pressures young people face as well as teachers’ workloads, both worthy of blogs of their own, are we not missing a trick by having a good, long and hard look as assessment in FE and our schools? For example, the average FE college is likely to work with more than 40 awarding organisations (AOs) and all of these will have their own quality standards processes. This is fair enough, but as colleges will testify, these processes often involve the AO asking for similar information, which takes time for a college to put together. Could this operation be done once for all AOs to reduce the burden on colleges?

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