Research and Development Team


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Irenka Suto, Assistant Director of Assessment

Irenka oversees all Research & Development activity in CEM. She holds a first degree in Natural Sciences and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Cambridge. With over 100 journal and conference publications, Irenka joined CEM in 2021 from Cambridge University Press and Assessment’s group-wide research division. For many years, Irenka led research programmes to evaluate, reform and develop assessments. Her previous team also focused on making test development processes more reliable and robust.

With over 20 years’ research experience, Irenka enjoys working with students, teachers, and other educationalists to understand how best to support them with equitable and engaging assessments. She is fascinated by the question of what contributes to a student’s success in education.

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John Ardley, Assessment Developer

John specialises in the development of non-verbal assessment and, as a designer, also has a keen interest in the development of materials for students with special educational needs. He completed his BSc in Computer Studies at Newcastle University and progressed into a role as a Research Associate at Durham University while working on CEM’s Alis system.

Starting at CEM in 1994, John now has over 15 years’ experience in all aspects of assessment development. He enjoys discovering new technologies to provide creative solutions to add value to the product range and is also active in finding solutions to online assessment challenges.

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Emma Barthel, Assessment Developer

Drawing on 15 years’ experience as a primary school teacher, Emma has added valuable insight and practical expertise in the development of CEM’s Early Years assessment (BASE). Emma also takes a leading role in the development of CEM’s high-stakes assessments, from liaising with schools to writing assessments to trialling and statistical analysis. Along with her Primary PGCE, Emma holds a BSc in Chemistry from Durham University as well as a Post-Graduate Diploma in Educational Assessment.

Emma has a particular interest in the development of mathematics assessments and is currently collaborating with Cambridge Mathematics to embed their extensive research into CEM’s products.

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Matthew Carroll, Senior Research Officer

Matthew is a senior researcher in Cambridge University Press & Assessment’s groupwide research division, with special responsibility for CEM-focused research. He has worked in education research since 2017, but prior to this was a scientist working in the field of conservation ecology. Matthew holds a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, and an MRes and PhD from the University of York. He has also been a science communicator, working with school groups in the North East of England.

Matthew has worked closely with CEM’s Research and Development Team since 2020. He helps to establish collaborative research projects with the wider group research division, provides an extra source of analytical advice, and has carried out research into areas including the impacts of Covid on teachers in CEM schools and the links between performance in CEM tests and high-stakes examinations.

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Gideon Copestake, Assessment Development Lead

Gideon leads the team of assessment developers on the creation of new assessment content, scoping and constructing new assessments, evaluating assessment content and statistical analysis. Formerly a primary school teacher, Gideon holds an MSc in Educational Assessment along with a BSc (Hons) in Engineering and a PGCE (Upper Primary).

In his 18 years at CEM Gideon has extensive experience working as a Statistical Officer and Research Associate for the development of CEM’s Early Years assessment (PIPS Baseline). He is currently overseeing a multi-disciplinary working group, coming up with ideas for, and investigating viability of, new assessment initiatives.

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Mark Frazer, Teaching & Learning Lead

As Teaching & Learning Lead, Mark is responsible for developing content for CEM’s assessments, as well as the support and guidance materials for teachers, headteachers and parents. Before joining CEM in 2015, Mark taught across schools in the North East of England for 17 years, spending 10 years as a primary headteacher with an MSc in Educational Assessment.

Working with colleagues at Cambridge University Press & Assessment and building relationships with schools all over the world, Mark supports the development of new assessment and reporting products that drive improvement in educational outcomes. Mark chairs CEM's research strategy group.

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Chris Jellis, Senior Research Associate

Chris has been with CEM since 2003. Beginning as a biological scientist, he has worked on vaccine development and studied gene sequencing among other topics. After gaining his PGCE in Science Education at Hull University, Chris spent fifteen years teaching IT and Business Studies. He also holds Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and English and Master’s degrees in Education and Education Assessment.

In 2007, he was awarded his Doctorate in Education at Durham University with a thesis entitled ‘Metalearning: PGCE Students Learning about Learning’. A dedicated lifelong learner, Chris has interests in all aspects of learning, from creating new assessments to researching characteristics of student knowledge and understanding. He currently co-chairs the Research Ethics Committee of Cambridge University Press and Assessment.

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John Little, Statistician

As statistician within CEM with over 20 years’ experience, John is responsible for developing and refining the adaptive algorithms that sit behind almost all CEM assessments. He provides bespoke analysis and statistical insight to a range of schools from their CEM test results. John graduated with a Master’s degree in Maths and Statistics and holds a PhD in Bayesian Spatio-Temporal Modelling from Durham University.

John’s recent projects have included work with the wider Cambridge University Press and Assessment group on the impact of Covid and to see how CEM data can be used beyond its original application.

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Andrew Lyth, Statistician

Beginning as a Research Associate in 1999, Andrew previously worked on the mathematical modelling of trends in Household Demography. His first degree was in Maths, and he has a Master’s degree in Statistics. Andrew specialises in predictions and value-added methodologies. His role includes explaining the statistics and methodologies that underpin students’ results to schools.

Working on a variety of different research projects, Andrew has covered topics such as: mental health; interventions to increase students’ physical activity; and the impact of lockdowns on students’ performances. His next research project will use data from the National Pupil Database to investigate relationships between performances on CEM’s assessments and attainment at Key Stage 4.

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Catherine McKenna, Assessment Developer

Catherine has over 10 years’ experience of developing high-stakes assessments and takes a leading role in the creation of high-quality cognitive ability assessments. She also plays a key part in the development of new wellbeing products for primary and secondary students, utilising her BSc (Hons) in Psychology, MSc in Occupational Psychology and interest in research. 

Instrumental in designing and constructing new assessments, Catherine develops new items, peer reviews content, evaluates assessment performance, and conducts literature reviews and statistical analyses. Whilst she develops both verbal and non-verbal assessment content, Catherine has a specialist focus in developing non-verbal reasoning assessments.