Could Do A Lot Better

  • Simon Thompson
  • 13 August 2020
  • Blog | Career Development | Blog

By Simon Thompson, CEO, Chartered Banker Institute

I’ve watched the unfolding omnishambles of the exam results crises in Scotland and England with incredulity and disbelief.  How could any education system sacrifice individual achievement for statistical purity based on algorithms with a bias against disadvantaged areas built in?  How could any competent educational regulator allow so many young people to be let down, so badly – and after being warned of the likely consequences too? Thank goodness an apology has been made, and students’ grades re-instated – at least in Scotland (at the time of writing).

At a time when our young people - our future - need our help and support more than ever, how could we have let this happen?  And what can we do to make sure it never happens again?

At the Chartered Banker Institute, I like to think we know something about delivering education and assessing the achievements of our students.  We’ve been doing it pretty successfully since 1875, after all, when we were founded in part to give opportunities for a professional career to young people from backgrounds that, at the time, would not have allowed them to go to university.  An ethos that continues today through the Chartered Banker 2025 Foundation, supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Unlike much of the UK education system, though, we haven’t remained rooted to a traditional, Victorian approach to schooling and exams.  Unlike the majority of schools, colleges and universities we invested in the digital transformation of education and assessment so that learning, and exams, continued with little disruption during lockdown.  Our students took their exams at home, via remote invigilation.  Their results, and their success, depended on their efforts, not their postcode.

This was only possible because we were prepared, several years ago, to transform our own approach to education, overturning convention and tradition.  Today, we have a genuine, once in a generation opportunity to transform our education systems and institutions too, giving many more young people access to the learning and the opportunities they deserve - but I don’t see this happening.  It’s time for change, but where are the innovators, entrepreneurs and educators we need?