Pilot projects receive green light thanks to unique educational fund | NCFE

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Pilot projects receive green light thanks to unique educational fund

Three new pilots have launched thanks to a £1 million fund supporting organisations to explore different approaches to assessment and innovative uses of technology.

Projects by Calderdale College, EasyCorrect, and the Centre for Education and Youth, will each investigate new ways learners can be assessed outside of more traditional methods, such as through Virtual Reality (VR).

The Assessment Innovation Fund, created by the educational charity and leader in vocational and technical education NCFE, is investing across a range of pilots developed by, but not limited to, training providers, qualification developers, awarding bodies, quality assurers, EdTech companies, and colleges.

Jessica Blakey, Head of Assessment Innovation at NCFE, said: “We’re delighted to see three new pilots get underway that will each explore different areas of assessment and how technology can support and enhance learner feedback and experience.

“When we launched the Assessment Innovation Fund last year, our vision was, and still is, to break the boundaries of assessment with evidence-based disruption within our current education system. Our aim is to support and investigate potential solutions and deliver the best possible experience for our learners.

“With the addition of these three new pilots, we now have eight live research projects that focus on testing new concepts in a safe space, from using AI and digital badges, to engaging hard to reach learners, and we’re really excited to see the results.”

For its pilot, Calderdale College will evaluate the use of Simulation Centres and VR in delivery and assessment to replicate industry standards in the Health and Social Care sectors. It hopes to show that the use of this technology can assist learners in gaining valuable, real-life scenario practice without fear of consequences.

By piloting the use of technology in assessment, Calderdale College wants to increase the opportunities for learners to thrive and achieve their aspirational target grades. They also see this pilot as a way of providing safe learning environments where students can learn from both failure and success; where they can try new skills, build behaviours, and demonstrate industry values.

Ebrahim Dockrat, Directory of Commercial Services and Partnerships at Calderdale College, shared his view of the research project: “As a Further Education (FE) college, we are proud to be one of the first to delve into this research to test immersive technologies within the assessment of social care sector competencies.

“We’re working with tech experts and social care employers to align industry-standard assessments with the way we deliver our social care qualifications. The pilot is an opportunity to demonstrate the capability of 16-18 students and the need to have access to learning techniques in FE that are already provided at Higher Education level.

“The project is also a key part of the course for our Digital and Health T Level students, giving them real-life experience by developing and testing VR scenarios in a social care environment. Students at post-GCSE age have never had access to this level of learning before, so it’s a real first-of-its-kind and we’re excited to be driving the research with NCFE and our key strategic partners Health Education England, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust and local care providers.”

EasyCorrect’s pilot will test whether their Edword platform can offer a more transparent and personalised solution for formative assessment practices, where learners are engaging in written assignments. Edword is an online toolbox that supports teachers to create, reuse, and share feedback while learning from how their students spend their time and engage with feedback. 

The first co-funded project between NCFE and Ufi VocTech Trust, the pilot is looking to disrupt how students and teachers interact in the learning processes of written assignments and show that the Edword solution can free up time for more personalised feedback, leading to increased student engagement and improved learning outcomes.

Jacob Gagegaard, CLO and Co-founder of EasyCorrect, said: “At EasyCorrect, we are honoured to collaborate with NCFE and have this opportunity to work with a series of schools and FE colleges in the UK to increase the quality of teaching in an exciting research project. With our Edword solution students will get better insights on their written work, teachers will save time and essentially also get feedback on their feedback. They will know if the comment they provided did its job.

“We hope that schools and colleges that are interested in becoming a part of this research pilot will reach out to us at [email protected].”

Centre for Education & Youth (CfEY) is a think and action tank for education and youth. In collaboration with Big Education, a multi-academy trust, its pilot will focus on the creation of a rigorous, flexible, and scalable assessment instrument for 11-year-olds that any primary school across the UK could use.

The aim is to support the development and recognition of a wide set of learning characteristics that extend beyond what the national curriculum and SATs currently value. Their Primary Extended Project Award (PEPA) will be modelled on the Extended Project Qualification, which is currently used extensively in Years 12-13.

The PEPA will provide an opportunity for Year 5-6 children to take part in an extended project which is based on addressing real-world challenges that they shape themselves, presenting this through a variety of media.

Joe Hallgarten, CEO of CfEY said: “We are delighted that NCFE has agreed to support our primary-focused pilot and are excited to be part of the family of programmes in the Innovation Assessment Fund. A partnership with NCFE is about more than financial investment. Together with Big Education, we're looking forward to learning from their expertise, and the expertise of other pilots, to develop a truly transformational assessment award for primary pupils.”

You can learn more about our current pilots and find out more information about our Assessment Innovation Fund here.

We are delighted that NCFE has agreed to support our primary-focused pilot and are excited to be part of the family of programmes in the Innovation Assessment Fund. A partnership with NCFE is about more than financial investment.

Joe Hallgarten, CEO of CfEY
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