Sarah Maughan has stepped down as Director of Assessment after almost seven years at AlphaPlus. Below, she shares some of her thoughts about her time here.
At the end of April I came to the end of six and a half years working at AlphaPlus. At this point everyone always asks what exciting thing I am moving on to and why I am leaving, so I will cover that first! I am in the fortunate position that, if I live fairly frugally, I can take early retirement. I have plans to get fit (going on long walks and doing lots more yoga), to go on trips around the UK and maybe Europe in my camper van, to grow lots of flowers and vegetables in my garden, and to spend more time with friends and family. That might not sound exciting to some readers, but it sounds very exciting to me.
The truth is that I would not have left AlphaPlus for a different job. There would be no need. AlphaPlus has been a great place to work. I have really expert, professional and supportive colleagues, we work on really interesting and worthwhile projects and do them well, I get to be pretty autonomous and to work creatively and in the ways I choose. I have been rewarded by seeing AlphaPlus flourish over the time I have been there. As a team I really believe we have achieved some great things.
The work I have done over the last few years has been varied and at times challenging (I do like a challenge though!). I have learned a lot from my colleagues and also hope I have taught them a lot too. A few projects stick out in my memory:
- Doing a validation study for the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Professional assessment was not something I had done a lot of so I had to learn a lot, although the principles of assessment were the same. We produced something I was proud of and which I still refer to as background for other projects.
- Working with colleagues to produce an interactive guide to developing mark schemes for Qualifications Wales. It really was an example of working with excellent colleagues with complimentary skills so we ended up with a tool that was better than any of us good have done on our own.
- Clearly I have to mention the development of the computer adaptive tests for Welsh Government. This project has been a huge part of my working life for the last 4+ years. It was a huge task and required input from so many colleagues and partners. There were so many questions to answer and problems to resolve over the years. In the end we have come up with something that works pretty seamlessly, builds on the best and most up-to-date assessment theory and technical infrastructure, and provides valuable information for learners, their parents and guardians, and teachers and school leaders.
- More recently, I have been working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council developing a test of competence for overseas nurses. Combining expertise in assessment, understanding of professional qualifications, and also learning lots more (particularly around OSCEs – objective structured clinical exams). Our team, the client and the partners have been amazing. We have developed a huge amount of assessment and support materials, all ready to go live in August, despite needing to do most of it during a pandemic.
I nearly got to the end of this without mentioning and, to be honest, even thinking about Covid-19. I think personally and as a company we adapted well and just got on with everything, although in a slightly different way. Coming out of a pandemic, at the same time as leaving work and with the onset of spring, the change feels like the beginning of an exciting new chapter. Long may it continue.