Knowledge, Expertise and Policy in the Exams crisis in England (Nov 21)

29th November 2021 : 17:00 - 18:00

Category: Public Seminar

Speaker: Prof Margaret Arnott, Prof Emeritus Jenny Ozga & Prof Jo-Anne Baird,

Location: Zoom

Convener: Sibel Erduran

Audience: Public

Education has been heavily impacted globally by the pandemic, yet educational knowledge and expertise do not seem to be strongly referenced in policy discussions and decisions about, for example, closing and reopening schools, the effectiveness of distance learning, or the most appropriate forms of assessment. Examinations policy in ‘normal’ times contains a number of tensions, for example, concerns to maintain standards while recognising improvement, along with questions of fairness, parental pressures, and issues around public understanding of assessment practices. These are heightened in crisis, generating intense public interest, raising questions regarding governance and regulation and increasing pressure on political leadership. This seminar presents findings from current research to offer some possibilities for understanding the sources of knowledge and the forms of expertise that were mobilised or not in relation to examinations policy in England in 2020, where the cancellation of national examinations, and outcry about the impact of the algorithm that replaced them, led to a very public policy reversal.


About the speakers:

Prof Margaret Arnott

Margaret Arnott is Professor of Public Policy. Margaret joined UWS as Professor of Public Policy in 2013. Previously she was Professor of Public Policy at Glasgow Caledonian University. Over the past twenty five years she has also held posts at University of Edinburgh and the University of Birmingham.

Margaret’s research interests and expertise include politics of public policy, constitutional politics, territorial politics and governance. She also has a particular interest in the politics of education policy and has extensively researched education policy making.  Margaret also has extensive research experience of Scottish/UK politics. She has undertaken externally funded research in her areas of research expertise including the ESRC funded project exploring Education and Nationalism under the SNP Devolved Government since 2007. She is an Associate Director of the Centre for Families and Relationships a consortium  of Universities on applied policy focused research on families and relationships. She is also currently a collaborator and participant on international research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council lead by Stein Rokkan Centre University of Bergen on ‘Governance , management and organization of policy programs to improve completion of upper secondary education” Margaret also has extensive experience of research and knowledge transfer for policy makers, practitioners and the wider public.


Prof Emeritus Jenny Ozga

Professor of Sociology of Education in the Department of Education from 2010-2015, and before that Director of the Centre for Educational Sociology (CES), University of Edinburgh, Jenny also worked at Strathcyde, Keele, UWE Bristol, and the Open University.

She is an Honorary Professorial Visiting Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences, the University of Edinburgh, and has an attachment to the University of Umea, Sweden. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and has been a visiting scholar at Helsinki University, Finland. She holds an honorary doctorate from Turku University, Finland and is a member of the ESF College of Expert Reviewers. She teaches on the EU funded summer school in European Education Studies (SUSEES). The MOOC may be accessed here


Prof Jo-Anne Baird

Before coming to Oxford, Jo-Anne held academic posts at the Institute of Education, University of London and the University of Bristol.

Jo-Anne previously held the position of Head of Research at the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, where she managed the research programme and was responsible for the standard-setting systems for public examinations. Her first degree and doctorate were in psychology and she has an MBA.  Her current research projects include Setting and Maintaining Standards in national examinations, Examination reform: the impact of modular and linear examinations at GCSE, Assessment for Learning in Africa (AFLA), intelligent accountability and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study England national centre.

Her research interests are in educational assessment, including system-wide structures and processes, examination standards, marking and assessment design.  Jo-Anne conducts a lot of work with government and industry partners, including acting as the Standing Adviser to the House of Commons Education Select Committee, a member of Ofqual’s Standing Advisory Group and membership of the Welsh Government’s Curriculum and Assessment Group.  She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Oxford Review of Education journal and the International Advisory Board of Assessment in Education: principles, policy & practice.  She has been a Visiting Professor at the universities of Bergen, Queen’s (Belfast) and Umea.  From 2013 to 2015 she was President of the Association for Educational Assessment – Europe.