No conflict in raising standards

27th August 2010 at 01:00

Your piece on Pearson's plans to create a school improvement arm in the UK did not present a balanced view of our aims and wrongly presents our objectives - to both set high standards and to improve learning - as being in conflict with each other ("Exam board involvement in school improvement 'would be madness'", August 20).

The standards that our qualifications represent are precious to students and to us. They are the reason employers and universities value our qualifications and their compromise would not just be crass, it would be at odds with over 200 years of experience and our long-term commitment to education. Simply put, we will never allow that to happen and nor will the thousands of dedicated education practitioners who work in Pearson.

The piece quoted an academic who said that teaching students things that help them do well in their exams impoverishes education. I'd respectfully suggest that he'd be better questioning curriculum objectives and what is being assessed before he criticises what is being taught.

Indeed, given the pass rate for A-level at grade E is almost 100 per cent (reflecting improved performance over time), now is the time for awarding bodies to think again about how we can raise the bar to the next level in the pursuit of continuous improvement. That's why we are embarking now - in collaboration with universities and employers - on a programme of work to reset the benchmark for high standards.

We would no more allow commercial aims to impair our judgment on standards than The TES would allow its commercial aims to impair the independence of its journalism.

Rod Bristow, President, Pearson UK.

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