Royal Society response to the Advanced British Standard (ABS) consultation

20 March 2024

This submission to the 2024 Department for Education consultation on the Advanced British Standard (ABS) details the Royal Society's position on long term educational reform, and the importance of a large-scale review ahead of making any significant changes to the education system.

Key recommendations  

  • The Royal Society recommends that the Government should commit to a fundamental review of the education system, starting with questions which focus on the nature of our education system in the mid-21st century, including:  
  • What is education for?  
  • What do young people need to know and to do?  
  • What is the future role for teachers and how can the status of teaching be improved?  
  • How to nurture the skills essential to thrive in the face of a complex and uncertain world?  
  • What should schools be measuring, for what purpose and for whose benefit?  
  • In recognition of the Prime Minister’s commitment to mathematics, data and numeracy, the Society recommends that the Government should consider the work of the Royal Society Advisory Committee on Mathematics (RS ACME) Mathematical Futures Programme, within its planning for the ABS.  
  • The proposed reforms would place significant demands on the teaching workforce. The Society therefore strongly recommends that while it develops the reformed curriculum structure and content, the Government should pay significant attention to the contribution of teachers as partners in the process. Through focusing on the positive educational benefits and partnership, the Government should set out how it values teachers’ contribution to the creation of new structures, qualifications and content.