Ofqual chief Sally Collier on preparing to introduce T-Levels and asking a dancing double act to turn on the Christmas lights
With the end of 2018 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2019 – and tell us who would turn on their town’s Christmas lights.
What was your highlight of 2018?
It has to be the safe delivery and awarding of new GCSEs, graded 9 to 1, and reformed AS and A Levels. This has been the most significant change to qualifications taken in the majority of our schools and colleges in England in a generation, and 2018 was the year of most change. Ofqual, as the qualifications regulator, has played a significant part in their safe introduction.
What was the hardest part of being a leader in 2018?
The job of regulating any sector is never easy. There are rarely any clear-cut decisions, and often groups of stakeholders will have opposing views. Some of the trickiest decisions during 2018 came during the summer exam series, in particular in relation to GCSE combined science and some of the new vocational qualifications, which are mainly taught in colleges.
What are the main challenges facing your organisation in the coming year?
Just as GCSEs and A levels have been reformed, the transformation of vocational qualifications is now underway. During 2019, Ofqual will play a vital role in ensuring quality in the delivery of the new T Level qualifications by awarding organisations, with the first phase – involving construction, digital, and education and childcare – being taught from 2020. We also need to keep on top of growing risks to information security and exams, whether they come from inside the system or externally.
Which celebrity or historical figure would you choose to turn on the Christmas lights in your town, and why?
At the time of writing, we are remembering 100 years since the end of the First World War. Many activities have taken place in my home county of Norfolk, including celebrating the contribution of nurse Edith Cavell, so she would have to be a favourite. In terms of celebrities, given that Norwich City FC are currently top of the EFL Championship (although, that may have changed by publication!), then Delia Smith (Norwich City’s owner) or Ed Balls (their chairman) would go down well – in fact, why not a dancing double act!
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