Following on from last year’s UKFIET Symposium, the Schools2030 team came back together to reflect on what they had learned for this podcast, hosted by Schools2030’s Global Assessment Partner, Oxford MeasurEd. This blog was written by Fergal Turner, Senior Consultant at Oxford MeasurEd and originally published on the Schools2030 website on 12 January 2022.

In normal times the United Kingdom Forum for International Education and Training’s (UKFIET) conference is an opportunity for researchers, policy makers and practitioners from around the world to gather in Oxford. In 2021 things were a little different. Instead of gathering in person the conference gathered online. For Schools2030 this was a golden opportunity to bring together voices from across the programme, to host a symposium on our work on learning assessment. Here we bring those voices back together for a podcast, reflecting on our symposium.

Schools2030 is a three-step programme, focused on using the principles of human centred design and participatory action research to give teachers the tools and support to improve learning outcomes in their classrooms. In the ‘Assess‘ phase, teachers in 1000 schools across ten countries use context-driven holistic learning assessment tools to measure learning outcomes in their classrooms. In the ‘Innovate‘ phase, the data from these assessments feed into a process of human centred design, in which teachers design, track and iterate solutions for their classrooms. During the ‘Showcase’ phase, data from endline assessments are used to show what works for improving learning in classrooms.

For UKFIET 2021 we wanted to focus on the assess phase. The title of the Symposium was: Re-balancing power dynamics and re-conceptualising rigour in measuring learning.

After the symposium we wanted to come together again to reflect on our presentations and discuss thoughts and questions that had arisen since the UKFIET presentation. We decided to record this conversation and release it as part of Re:Learning, a podcast designed to reflect on what Schools2030 is learning about learning assessments.

For our conversation, we were joined by:

  • Bronwen Magrath, Global Programme Manager for Schools2030 at the Aga Khan Foundation
  • Rachel Outhred, Managing Director of Oxford MeasurEd, the global learning assessment coordination partner
  • Arjun Sanyal, Senior Education Advisor at the Aga Khan Foundation in India
  • Fergal Turner, Senior Consultant with Oxford MeasurEd
  • Emily Tusiime, Regional Assessment Coordinator for East Africa with the Aga Khan Foundation
  • Brenda Naggayi, a Schools2030 Preprimary teacher who contributed to the selection of learning domains for Schools2030 in Uganda
  • Caine Rolleston, Professor of Education and International Education at the Institute of Education at University College London, reprised his role as discussant for the symposium, guiding the conversation.

Four Key things that we took away from the discussion were:

Re-conceptualising rigour means understanding that assessments must be relevant to the context and lived experience of those who will use them to be considered rigorous. Conversely assessments that are not relevant to those who will use them cannot be considered rigorous.

The role of Schools2030 in determining what will be measured is fundamentally about balancing power dynamics and competing priorities between different actors at the national and local levels.

Throughout this process we need to be reflective and understand that our own points of views and experiences with assessment have a fundamental impact on how we make decisions about our work.

Bringing together teachers, policy makers and learners around deciding what will be measured results in norms for assessment that are based on a rich understanding of what is important to learners and their communities.

To hear the discussion of these points listen to our conversation, please see the link above or search for Schools2030 on Spotify or other podcast platforms. This represents the beginning of an exciting journey for Schools2030, with UKFIET being a perfect platform for us to collectively reflect on how we have experienced the process of determining a strategy and defining what is to be measured by Schools2030.

For more in podcasts and audio guides on our assessment work, please visit the Schools2030 Assess Tools page