Explore some of the research that informs HMC’s work in this key priority area, and find details of events and resources that promote forward-thinking and innovative approaches to shaping the future of education.

Next Generation Assessment Conference

The Next Generation Assessment Conference was originally masterminded by Sarah Fletcher, High Mistress at St Paul’s Girls’ School following her work on HMC’s research into curriculum and assessment and the subsequent report The State of Education – Time to Talk. The first conference, Planning for the Future, was a collaboration between HMC, Edge Foundation, Rethinking Assessment and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL). It was held in January 2023 and featured speakers from Higher Education, employers and current students. It was clear that there is a high level of interest in the topic of assessment and its future; and a will to drive change in this area to ensure the needs of students, and indeed the UK economy, are best met through a system which is able to adapt to developments in AI, future technologies and ever-evolving skills requirements.

Following the success of the 2023 event, a second Next Generation Assessment Conference was held in March 2024, Shaping the Future. Again, the event brought together highly engaging speakers from the worlds of education, higher education, industry and the arts and, through a range of keynotes, panel debates and thematic breakout sessions, explored cutting-edge methods and themes around the future of assessment.

View videos of the panel sessions from both our Next Generation Assessment Conferences, Preparing for the Future and Shaping the Future, here, and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be notified about future videos on the topic of assessment and more.

What next?

HMC and its members continue to engage with stakeholders to bring about improvements that all children can benefit from. HMC, as an association, and HMC members and their schools, continue to debate the detail of what a new curriculum or new style of assessment could look like and we will use our most important asset – our independence – to experiment and explore, whilst campaigning for high standards, more partnership working across the whole of the education sector, and for a better education system which serves the needs of all children, regardless of their background.

The State of Education – Time to Talk

HMC’s report, The State of Education – Time to Talk, summarises the findings from an extensive survey of educators regarding curriculum and assessment.

Work on the survey and the report was led by Sarah Fletcher (High Mistress at St Paul’s Girls’ School), with support from HMC and HMC members.

The survey offered respondents the opportunity to reflect on the purposes of curriculum and assessment in a fast-changing, post-pandemic world. It was completed by some 800 individuals, nearly 500 of whom are teachers and senior leaders working in both independent and state schools. The majority of those 500 teachers were from schools in the state/maintained sector.

"The findings are stark. They show significant concern across sectors (maintained and independent) that both curriculum and assessment are falling short in serving the needs of young people and in developing the core knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values they need. We must rebalance what is learned in schools and how we assess that learning if all young people are to thrive in a complex world."
Sarah Fletcher, High Mistress, St Paul's Girls' School

World of Languages, Languages of the World (WoLLoW) – a new approach promoting linguistic ability and enjoyment of languages​

A further example of how HMC aims to support new and inspiring ideas is WoLLoW, World of Languages and Languages of the World. This is a freely available programme of study designed to bring joy, curiosity, linguistic understanding and awareness of literacy into the classroom.

WoLLoW is a curriculum package for primary and secondary schools, which teaches children the history, culture and development of all languages and how they have shaped our lives. WoLLoW uses ideas and activities from a range of different subjects and helps pupils to understand patterns of grammar, uses of script and how learning through language can help shape their understanding of the world.

The primary and secondary courses run for a year and are aimed at one lesson per week. Resources are free to download, are flexible and can be adapted to suit the skills of teachers and the needs of your learners.

The aim is for pupils on the WoLLoW programme to love words and love how their own language works. The goal is for WoLLoW pupils to be filled with the wonder of how languages intermingle, how they have built on each other and how they enhance our lives.

"Lessons are fun, accessible and enjoyable for all pupils regardless of their language, linguistic or literary ability. They are engaging and spark curiosity and a conversation. Teaching WoLLoW is the best part of my week."
Abigail Dean, Modern Foreign Languages specialist, Norwich School & Co-Founder of WoLLoW