The RSS is keen to ensure that the teaching of statistics is not undermined under the proposed system, which will see different awarding organisations potentially gaining exclusive rights to run exams across different subjects. It is crucial that examining boards coordinate the teaching of statistics across the curriculum if there are to be different examining boards running exams in mathematics, geography and science.
The RSS also cautioned that 100% assessment by external examination is inappropriate for a practical subject such as statistics, pointing out that a lack of coursework in mathematics, geography and the sciences runs counter to best practice in statistics teaching. More generally, it considers subject experts to be the people best-placed to decide how skills and knowledge in a subject are assessed, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to assessment across the entire suite of subjects.
‘This moment of educational reform provides a wonderful opportunity for the government to recognise the power of statistical understanding in helping learners to make sense of the world,’ said Moussa Haddad, RSS policy and research manager. ‘Data and quantitative information are increasingly prominent in the modern world, and statistical literacy is crucial both as a life skill, and for success in the modern labour market and across a range of academic disciplines.
‘It is crucial that, as it reforms, the government recognises the value and necessity of statistical education. It will need to tread carefully in its reforms to make sure that teaching of statistical tools and methods is not lost in the new qualifications, and that due consideration is given to the cross-curricular nature of statistics and necessary co-ordination between exam boards takes place.’
The RSS is not the only organisation to voice concerns regarding the new proposals. Exams watchdog Ofqual has already written to the secretary of state for education, Michael Gove
. While it welcomed the government’s policy aims, the outlined three core concerns: firstly that the government is attempting to achieve an unrealistic number of aims through a single assessment; secondly that qualifications should not form the sole basis of accountability measurement for secondary schools; and third, that there are problems associated with introducing new qualifications at the same time as scrapping provider competition among awarding organisations.