Key Voices #124 – Exams, policy-making and trusts with Sir Jon Coles

“It's a question of humility really, in government, keeping your humility. Recognising you don’t know everything, that you need to involve lots of other people, that it's better to do something small, recognising it won’t be perfect to start with. It's better to not make a big announcement until you are really sure it's working, and all these things which are just very difficult to achieve in the political process.” 

This week we talk to Sir Jon Coles, CEO of United Learning. Jon shares his thoughts on this year’s exam arrangements and what could happen next year. As well as, why it is so hard to make good policy and how he feels the pandemic has really emphasised the benefits of being part of a large trust. 

We talk about : 
  • This year’s exam results and what they could mean for future cohorts
  • The various options for next year’s exams and the considerations that would need to be made depending on which way forward is chosen
  • How to close the gap between those who make policy and those who implement it 
  • Jon’s time in the civil service and his thoughts on exactly why it is so hard to make successful policy 
  • How additional capacity made Jon’s trust more resilient during the pandemic 
  • Establishing remote teaching during the pandemic 
  • The most powerful ways technology can make a difference in education 


You can learn more about United Learning here

“There is a risk that there is a hard line between policy and implementation - that is we do the policy, and you do the implementation, which isn’t the way to get the best results actually.”

Follow us on your preferred streaming platforms…
(please note: iTunes takes a little longer to update, so if you can’t see our episode there, please use Spotify or the embedded player above.)

Leave a Reply