In the News - Tristian Stobie

25th February 2011 at 00:00

Dr Stobie, 50, has just been appointed director of education at the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), the international wing of Cambridge Assessment, which also runs the domestic OCR exam board. From July, he will lead CIE's educational strategies for schools, supporting teachers and pupils and working with education reformers.

Big job. Does he have enough experience?

It looks like it. He started off as a classroom teacher and rose to become principal in two international schools in a career that included stints in New Zealand, Surrey, southern Africa, Austria, the Netherlands and Wales. He completed a masters degree and a doctorate at Bath University, with research interests in schools administration, curriculum and pedagogy. Dr Stobie has also worked in a number of roles for the International Baccalaureate Organisation, most recently as head of IB diploma curriculum development, 2006-09.

He gets around. Will the role involve travel?

It's got to be on the cards. CIE is the world's largest provider of international exams for 14 to 19-year-olds, operating in 157 countries across six continents. In some countries, such as Singapore, CIE exams are the state qualifications, and in others such as Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, the board is working with governments on education reform.

But what's all that got to do with UK schools?

Five letters - IGCSE. CIE's more traditional version of the GCSE is used in 120 countries worldwide. But the home market could be its next major expansion. One of the coalition Government's first acts was to allow state schools to offer the exam, which had already become a popular option in many British independent schools.

So can CIE build on this opportunity?

"It is up to heads but I would think so, yes," he says. "Because the products are good and people will want them. I do think it is a good thing that schools have a choice and it is good that is supported by the state. I applaud the fact that the Government is opening up the options."

Could there be a wholesale switch to IGCSEs?

That seems unlikely. CIE said itself last year that although ministers' stance had led to a big increase in state school interest in the IGCSE, it was doubtful that it would ever replace the GCSE. "It is simply another option - it is all about choice," a spokeswoman said. Dr Stobie echoes that view. "Some schools are choosing individual (IGCSE) courses that they think are particularly good and are teaching them alongside qualifications from other boards," he says. "They are choosing what best meets their needs."

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