Children ‘destined to lose out to robots’ due to outdated exams system, says head

The Telegraph is reporting claims from the new head of Wellington College that modern children are destined to lose out to robots because exam system only teaches them how to recall facts. 

…Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Thomas, who took over the school in the summer, said: “Throughout human history, the nature of assessment of individuals has been remarkably nimble: adjusting to each era to respond to changing needs. Our early hunter-gatherer ancestors would look for bravery, strength and co-operation. All very important in bringing down a woolly mammoth. Assessment was brutal but simple. 

He said that as the age of information took hold and humans “moved from the field to the office”, both “method and recall” became important.

However, he said the world today “has changed beyond all comprehension since 1858” yet the skills schools continue to test remain the same. 

He added: “Fast forward now to 2015 and a report by Oxford University and Deloitte suggesting that huge numbers of professions and jobs are at risk to automation and digitisation in the next two decades. Robots are in and humans are out!

But humans, he said, have a remarkable advantage to computers: their ability to adapt and their emotional intelligence. He said attitudes like “adaptability, leadership and empathy and independent of thought” were becoming “increasingly valued and important”.

He explained: “It follows therefore that we need an education system that nurtures and assesses these skills, but instead we’re stuck with a system designed for a different era…”

More at: Children ‘destined to lose out to robots’ due to outdated exams system, says head


Julian Thomas goes on to say the best schools value soft skills despite the fact they are not valued in the assessment system.

What do you think of this perspective on the type of assessment we have in schools nowadays?

Time for a change and, if so, how?

Please give us your insights in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. As I’ve said many times before, it’s time to move from exams at 16 (particularly now they’re sudden death, one-chance-only tests) towards graduation at 18 via multiple routes comprising summative tests, continuous assessment, work experience, vocational courses etc.  These would allow pupils to demonstrate the ‘soft’ skills that employers, future colleagues (and future partners!) value.
    Snag is that anything deemed ‘soft’ is treated with derision by politicians trying to outdo each other in the ‘robust and rigorous’ stakes.

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