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Systems thinking at Ofqual



During the summer of 2013, Dennis carried out an important assignment for Ofqual, the regulator of educational qualifications in England and Wales, to contribute to the formulation of wise policy in relation to the significant reforms to GCSE examinations currently being implemented in England.


Central to the assignment has been the use of systems thinking, and the compilation of a series of causal loop diagrams describing how the educational systems really work. Some of the topics 'mapped' for GCSEs were the so-called 'race to the bottom' (this being the steady 'grade inflation' over the past 20 years), 'the head teacher's view' (representing the choices made by head teachers as regards examinations, which identified many so-called 'unintended consequences'), marking and grading, and also 'managing conflict' (given that the role of a regulator is to ensure that those being regulated do things that they probably wouldn't do voluntarily, conflict is built into the system).


A study was also made of the systems relating to vocational qualifications, highlighting the role of the employer.


If you would like any further information on this project, please contact Dennis.

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A fragment of a causal loop diagram
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