Recent Conference Round-Up
The late summer/early autumn in the UK is always a busy time for conferences, providing an opportunity to reflect on what happened during the first half of the year and to explore and look forward to the innovations promised for the coming year.
𝙉𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝘼𝙥𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙥𝙨’ 𝙉𝙤𝙬 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙁𝙪𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙚 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 – 𝘼𝙪𝙜𝙪𝙨𝙩, 𝘽𝙞𝙧𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙝𝙖𝙢
This event caters primarily for employers, training providers and end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) working within the apprenticeship sector in England, and was well attended.
Several key issues were highlighted:
– 𝗥𝗲𝗰𝗿𝘂𝗶𝘁𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 – the 3m new apprenticeship starts by 2020 target set by government in 2015 has proved woefully over optimistic, with just 325k (12.3%) actual starts since 2020;
– 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 – nearly 50% of learners fail to complete their apprenticeships for a variety of reasons, including lack of familiarity and support in how to use online learning and assessment platforms;
– 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝘂𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱-𝗰𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗱𝗲𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘀 – despite the so called ‘Baker Clause’ being introduced in 2018 making it mandatory for schools to facilitate a better understanding of the options to all Year 8-13 students.
– 𝗔 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗷𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝘂𝗽 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗼 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗴𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗲𝗱, to take pressure off the learner and to support accurate tracking of learner progression.
– 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗼𝘆𝗲𝗿𝘀, 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗘𝗣𝗔𝗢𝘀, moving away from the current linear model and putting the apprentice at the core.
𝙚-𝘼𝙏𝙋 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 – 𝙊𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙗𝙚𝙧, 𝙇𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙤𝙣
This three-day conference, which is run by the European branch of the Association of Test Publishers, has a full and interesting programme and is always well attended.
The first day included a dedicated 𝗦𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗶𝘁, which focused on the latest news and developments related to assessment security and malpractice detection. 𝗗𝗿. 𝗧𝗵𝗼𝗺𝗮𝘀 𝗟𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 delivered a fascinating keynote that looked at how the 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗽𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲 landscape has changed in the last 20 years. A journey that has taken us from a preoccupation with preventing 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗺 in 2003, something that technology now rigorously detects, through the rise of 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 in 2006 (where someone else is paid to take the test for you) to the present day where we are most focused on preventing the 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝘃𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗳 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗹𝘀 for republication online. He argued that whilst 𝗔𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗔𝗜) has a lot to offer in detecting malpractice, the people behind cheating also use AI to develop more and more sophisticated ways to cheat!
Whilst 𝗜𝗻𝘃𝗶𝗴𝗶𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻/𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 (be this in person or remotely delivered online) is an effective way of reducing malpractice, 𝗣𝗮𝘂𝗹 𝗠𝘂𝗶𝗿 , Head of Technology Enabled Assessment for 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹 and the eAA’s Vice Chair, reminded us all that the main purpose of invigilation/proctoring is to ensure candidates have a fair and consistent assessment experience – reducing cheating is just a very desirable bonus.
We were also reminded by 𝗣𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝗩𝗨𝗘’𝘀 Director of Special Investigations 𝗛𝗮𝗿𝗿𝘆 𝗦𝗮𝗺𝗶𝘁 that candidate cheating is not something new and that delivering assessments through a secure online assessment platform can reduce candidate malpractice significantly – he stated that typically less than 12% of candidate using their online platform try to cheat, verses 50% in physical test centres.
The 𝗸𝗲𝘆 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲-𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆 from all of this for me was that we need to focus on ways of decreasing the demand for cheating rather than just relying on technology to detect it when it happens. We need to 𝗱𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 and ensure they understand the consequences if they are caught.
The eAA was also given the opportunity to showcase three winners from this year’s 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗲𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗔𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀 – for an overview of all of this year’s finalists and winners, please visit the awards website here.
𝙁𝙚𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝘼𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝘽𝙤𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙨 (𝙁𝘼𝘽) 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 – 𝙊𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙗𝙚𝙧, 𝙇𝙚𝙞𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙧
This year’s conference theme was 𝗗𝗲𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗢𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗘𝗾𝘂𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝗗𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗜𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻.
The opening address, given by 𝗞𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗲 𝗗𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗹𝗹𝘆 , CEO of 𝗖𝗶𝘁𝘆 & 𝗚𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱𝘀 and Co-Chair of FAB, highlighted some key facts about the very diverse FE and Vocational/Technical learning and assessment sector: a sector that in 2020/21 saw 1.5 million learners and 600,000 VTQ certificates issued. Through a conversation with EDI advocate 𝗙𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗸 𝗗𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗹𝗮𝘀 they also highlighted the difference between 𝗘𝗾𝘂𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝘃𝘀 𝗘𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 – something I hope that the image that accompanies this article helps to articulate – and stressed the importance of ensuring 𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗶𝘁𝘆 in learning and assessment to deliver true inclusion.
There were lots of very interesting sessions throughout the conference, but one that stood out was from 𝗘𝘀𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗢’𝗖𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗮𝗴𝗵𝗮𝗻 founder of 𝗵𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗼.𝘅𝘆𝘇 who introduced us to the 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗠𝗲𝘁𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲 – an immersive, virtual learning environment. I was also really interested to hear about Hundo’s development of a 𝗱𝗶𝗴𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗹𝗹𝘀 𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝘁, which is secured against the 𝗕𝗹𝗼𝗰𝗸𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗶𝗻, which has to be the future of certification especially with micro-credentials becoming ever more popular.
𝙊𝙛𝙦𝙪𝙖𝙡’𝙨 𝘼𝙡𝙡 𝙎𝙩𝙖𝙛𝙛 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 – 𝙉𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙢𝙗𝙚𝙧, 𝘾𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙮
The eAA was invited to deliver a session on the increasing use of 𝗢𝗻𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 by exam awarding and professional bodies, both here in the UK and internationally. Fellow eAA Board member 𝗣𝗮𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗖𝗼𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 and 𝗔𝗻𝗱𝗿𝗲𝘄 𝗖𝗿𝗼𝘆𝗱𝗼𝗻 , Director of Examinations, Education and Skills Policy for the 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗣𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗰𝗲𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗿𝘆 (𝗔𝗕𝗣𝗜) joined me to give this very positively received presentation to over 70 of Ofqual’s staff. My sincere thanks not only to Patrick and Andrew, but also to eAA sponsors 𝗘𝘅𝗮𝗺𝗶𝘁𝘆 and 𝗤𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸 for introducing me to Andrew and the ABPI.
Looking ahead, there are a number of conferences and events on the horizon, but one that I’d like to call out is the eAA’s own 𝗘𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝗬𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗪𝗿𝗮𝗽 virtual event on Wednesday 7th December at 2pm (GMT) where leading educationalist 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗳𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗼𝗿 𝗚𝗲𝗿 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝘂𝘀 𝗢𝗕𝗘 will be looking at how we measure the learning impact of educational technologies – from 𝗔𝗜 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗲𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝗶𝗲𝘀 to use of the 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗲𝘁𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲 – full details can be found in this newsletter.
Full details of all upcoming events can be found on the eAA’s event calendar.