This year marks the eleventh anniversary of our adoption of the Cambridge Assessment brand. We have decided to celebrate by updating it! Gone is the old ‘A’ logo and in its place is a return to the University of Cambridge coat of arms. The new logo allows us to highlight our unique position as the oldest exams group still in existence and the only one still attached to a university. It also aligns our work more closely with that of the University and other members of the University family with which we work including Cambridge University Press, the Faculties of Education and Mathematics and various other departments. The new brand reflects both how we have grown as an international organisation and how the world has changed since we became Cambridge Assessment in 2005.
It has been a year of continued international growth and a year in which we have maintained substantial investment, not only in our technological and physical estate but also our people. Demand for our products and services from around the world created more than 500 vacancies over the past year, just over half of which were filled by people new to the organisation. We have invested heavily in learning and development, ensuring that we are well on the way to achieving our ambition of being a global employer of choice. We have also successfully started systematic use of continuous improvement methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma and Kaizen, beginning with our Group Print and Operations division and rolling out the principles to other parts of the organisation.
Our international exam board has seen 10% growth across all its Cambridge qualifications, and more teachers than ever before are taking its professional development courses. It has opened new offices around the globe – from Africa to America and Asia – and established new local teams to support schools.
It has been a year of innovation for our English language exam board, which has launched two Massive Open Online Courses, the result of a promising partnership with FutureLearn, the UK’s Open University e-learning offshoot. Cambridge English Language Assessment now has a network of nearly 30 offices in locations around the world.
Meanwhile, our UK exam board has laid the foundations for a sustainable future with the appointment of a new Chief Executive. Leo Shapiro, previously Cambridge Assessment Group Strategy and Development Director, has more than 20 years’ senior management experience and will continue the implementation of priorities and activities designed to ensure OCR is able to respond to the challenges created for all exam boards by the UK’s ambitious qualifications reform programme.
It has been a year of firsts for our professional training and development arm, the Cambridge Assessment Network. It has launched a first-ever Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Assessment and Examinations and a Leadership in National Assessment course which has welcomed assessment professionals from countries as diverse as the Bahamas, Indonesia and Portugal.
Research is at the heart of everything we do and this was a year that saw some key developments including the publication by our Group Director of Assessment Research and Development Tim Oates CBE of The Cambridge Approach to Textbooks. Following on from The Cambridge Approach to Assessment, this set of criteria is the product of an extensive transnational study of high-quality materials.
We also celebrated milestones in research, including the publication of our 100th Statistics Report. Many of these reports – designed to offer insights into the exam system that can be used by all – have made media headlines over the years, such as those on the accuracy of forecast grades. We also celebrated 10 years of Research Matters, our free biannual publication which allows us to share our research with the education community and the wider public. Looking back over the issues of the past 10 years, a period that has seen huge changes in assessment both here in the UK and internationally, it is pleasing to see how Research Matters has brought to attention sometimes neglected areas of theory, practice and development, so enabling the formulation of evidence-based policy.
Finally, it was during this year that work began on building our new global headquarters in Cambridge. As I write, completion is now less than a year away.
With a new brand and a new headquarters, I believe we stand ready to meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities that lie in store over the coming year.
Simon Lebus, Group Chief Executive