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Ex-education secretary to chair OCR education review

A former education secretary is to chair a review into secondary education for exam board OCR.

OCR, which is part of Cambridge University Press and Assessment, said it will consult hundreds of schools, colleges, teachers, students and experts to develop a series of “bold and pragmatic” policy recommendations on 11 to 16 education.

It will be led by Charles Clarke, who was Labour’s education secretary between 2002 and 2004.

The review, starting this week, will focus on four key areas, including improving English and maths provision and reducing the “assessment burden” at GCSE.

It will also look at “curriculum evolution” and digital assessment and learning.

The aim is to provide “concise and deliverable” policy proposals, published in the summer.


It’s one in a series of inquiries since the pandemic on the future of GCSEs and exams.

Exam board Pearson proposed overhauling school performance measures and “alternative” qualifications in the English and maths resit policy as part of its major inquiry in 2022.

Meanwhile, another by the Independent Assessment Commission, funded by the National Education Union, said students should be tested “when ready” rather than made to sit “cliff-edge” exams.

The Conservatives want to introduce an Advanced British Standard to “break down the divide” between academic and technical study, its consultation said last year.

If Labour win the next general election, they have pledged a curriculum review to look at “the right balance of assessment methods while maintaining the important role of examinations”.

Jill Duffy, OCR chief executive, said: “We can create something better across education and assessment at 11 to 16.

“In a world shaped by technological, economic and environmental disruption, the next government has a tremendous opportunity to refocus and rethink key parts of our education system. 

“We will work throughout the education system and across the political spectrum to tap into the best ideas and experiences to offer bold and pragmatic policy ideas.” 

Clarke said he was “pleased” to be working with OCR to “develop ideas around how we can revitalise curriculum and assessment”.

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