Exam board chief: ‘Immense pressure’ over exam results is damaging education

The “immense pressure” on schools to achieve good exam results is squeezing the joy and creativity out of teaching and learning, an exam board boss has said.

Writing for this week’s TES, Rod Bristow, president of Pearson, says that too great an emphasis on exams is “damaging” education.

“Over the years, there has been a growing tendency in this country to hire and fire teachers and put school leadership teams under immense pressure on the basis of exam results,” he writes.

“This is damaging. It squeezes the creativity and innovation out of teaching and the joy out of learning, and it does not help our children to acquire the knowledge they really need.”

Mr Bristow argues that exams “can only ever be a proxy for what people know at a certain point in time”, but that they are often seen instead as “a binary predictor of success or failure in life.”

Writing after the publication of this year’s A-level results, which showed a slight increase in the overall pass rate but a slight drop in the proportion of A and A* grades, Mr Bristow calls for a more “balanced” approach that emphasises the importance of schools’ role in helping students to become “rounded individuals” with a range of valuable skills.

To read Mr Bristow’s article in full, get the14 July edition of TES on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents

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