English GCSE 2012 – changes to exam contributed to the fiasco. Gove’s proposals could result in similar disaster in rush to introduce EBCs.

Janet Downs's picture
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In early October TES described the factors which led to the 2012 GCSE fiasco. But there were some missing. In November at the London Festival of Education, Tina Isaacs, Institute of Education (IoE), described further factors which contributed to problems with GCSE English. These included:

1 Increasing the English exam syllabi from two to three.

2 Changing the weighting of internal assessment from 40% to 60%.

3 The addition of functional skills.

4 The modular structure of the exam.

5 A subtle shift from comparable performance to comparable outcomes.

6 Because it was a new exam there was very little evidence from January to set standards.

7 Teacher behaviour: entering pupils early and mistaking “cut” scores for grade levels.

8 Migration of pupils in independent and selective schools to iGCSEs.

Some are described in more detail on the IoE blog.

Isaacs feared that many of these factors could contribute to another perfect storm when EBC is first examined. The only definite factor is that EBCs will not be modular – but modules are on their way out in any case. These factors are unknown:

1 The English National Curriculum for Key Stage 4 hasn’t been published.

2 The consultation paper says the intention is to assess EBCs 100% by externally marked exams. However, the consultation hasn’t ended. It’s not known whether internal assessment will remain and, if so, how it will be weighted.

3 Whether functional skills will be included or not.

4 Whether independent and selective schools would use EBCs or iGCSEs. Geoff Barton, also contributing to the debate, said heads should have nothing to do with EBCs and choose more appropriate exams for their pupils even if it meant the exams didn’t count towards league tables. The take-up of the exam is in doubt.

With any exam there is the difficulty of setting standards when there is no prior evidence. Examiners would face this problem when EBCs were first assessed.

Added to the unknown factors are two known: the ridiculously short time-scale before pupils start preparing for EBCs in 2015. Ideally, the English EBC syllabus with details about which board will set the exam should be in schools one year before implementation to allow for planning – that is, September 2014. It is now nearly the end of November 2012. The second known factor is that reforming English examinations at 16+ will not bring England in line with most other developed nations who have graduation at 18. Setting externally-assessed, high-stake exams at 16+ is an anachronism.

A larger perfect storm is brewing which threatens to be even more devastating that the one of August 2012. And that isn’t over yet.

 
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Comments

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 20/11/2012 - 17:28

There never was a Latin word 'syllabus' to have the plural 'syllabi'.

The word 'syllabus' entered our language as a transcription error. Someone saw the word 'sittubas' (the accusative plural of a first declension noun 'sittuba' (whose plural was sittubae) and rendered it as 'syllabus'.

It is, therefore, effectively an English word and its plural is more properly 'syllabuses'.

You could make a defence of 'syllabi' on usage grounds (as some dictionaries do). But then, you could make the same defence of 'innit' or the grocer's apostrophe, but that cuts no ice with English GCSE examiners (except, perhaps, in controlled assessments). :-)

FJ Murphy's picture
Tue, 20/11/2012 - 21:48

Yes!

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 07:56

Thank you, A Pedant, for your language lesson. However, Merriam Webster gives the plural of syllabus is syllabi. The dictionary says the word derives from the Latin word sillybus, meaning label for a book, and that it originates from the Greek sillybos.

The Oxford Dictionary gives both plurals as correct: syllabi and syllabuses (which sounds ugly to my ears). However, Oxford argues with Merriam Webster about the word's origin. Oxford says it was "originally a misreading of Latin sittybas, accusative plural of sittyba, from Greek sittuba 'title slip, label'".

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syllabus

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/syllabus

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 08:01

A Pedant - It doesn't follow that accepting "syllabi" on usage grounds means we should also accept "innit" (unless it appears in written conversation where the author is reproducing urban language, although I think this may becoming a cliche). Neither does it follow that we should accept the grocer's apostrophe (which, to be pedantic) is not a question of vocabulary but of punctuation.

However, the purpose of this thread is not to discuss the origins and usage of one particular word but the factors which led to the 2012 GCSE English debacle and the very real possibility that similar factors will lead to an even larger fiasco when EBCs are introduced.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 10:17

it originates from the Greek sillybos.

....Except that there was no word 'sillybos' in Greek either. Merriam Webster nodded.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 10:33

There once was a pernickety guy
Who sneered at the word syllabi.
He made such a fuss
About sittubus
That Oxford and Merriam would sigh..... zzzzzzz.....

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 11:34

the purpose of this thread is {to discuss} the factors which led to the 2012 GCSE English debacle and the very real possibility that similar factors will lead to an even larger fiasco when EBCs are introduced.

I think you are being unduly alarmist, Janet. The proposals being made for the new EBCs seem to me to go a very long way towards catastrophe-proofing the exams and take account of pretty nearly all the factors you cite as contributing to this year's problems.

Changing the weighting of internal assessment from 40% to 60%. The consultation appears to be genuinely open as to whether there will be any internal assessment at all. If there is, the chances are that it will be minimal - oral tests and so on. This will mean that moderation can focus more effectively on a smaller range of activity.

The addition of functional skills. No real reason why this should be a problem (see above).

The modular structure of the exam. Sorted.

A subtle shift from comparable performance to comparable outcomes. Not an issue for the first year of the new exams as DfE seems to propose a "clean break" with GCSEs.

Because it was a new exam there was very little evidence from January to set standards. Unfamiliarity will, of course, be an issue. But the style of the new exams (open ended questions etc), which aim more at finding out what candidates are capable of rather than how well teachers can teach to the test, make this less salient a consideration than hitherto.

Teacher behaviour: entering pupils early and mistaking “cut” scores for grade levels. I'd expect teachers to be pleased that the whole tactical racket is being stripped away... along with the pressures from SLTs to compromise their integrity. A lot of teachers were very uncomfortable about some of the tactics used in the past. No exams are perfect, but exams that are transparent and simple and free from temptations to game the system are altogether healthier.

Migration of pupils in independent and selective schools to iGCSEs. EBCs are likely to have such a lot in common (sharing the same virtues) as IGCSEs as to be broadly equivalent. The two might actually be declared equivalent/interchangeable. ... by having one of the IGCSE exam boards (Edexcel/Cambridge) win the contract for English. (Just a thought.....)



Taking your points in turn:

Increasing the English exam syllabi from two to three. The new EBC will radically simplify the whole business of competing specifications by having only one common exam, set and marked by a single awarding body in each subject. By also removing tiering, there will be a completely level playing field with everyone sitting the same exam on the same terms (probably even on the same day!). Issue solved.

The English National Curriculum for Key Stage 4 hasn’t been published. It would make sense to harmonize/dovetail the promulgation of the curriculum and the assessment regime, wouldn't it?

The consultation paper says the intention is to assess EBCs 100% by externally marked exams. However, the consultation hasn’t ended. It’s not known whether internal assessment will remain and, if so, how it will be weighted. True. But it's a safe bet CA will be minimal.

Whether functional skills will be included or not. Let's wait and see. Not a big deal anyhow.

Whether independent and selective schools would use EBCs or iGCSEs. Geoff Barton, also contributing to the debate, said heads should have nothing to do with EBCs and choose more appropriate exams for their pupils even if it meant the exams didn’t count towards league tables. The take-up of the exam is in doubt.
Worth calling Mr B's bluff on this. Quite how the new exams will contribute to the assessment of school performance will need to be determined. It would be better if heads contributed constructively to this discussion. But if if Geoff Barton wants to take a suicidal leap below floor-level, Ofsted may have something to say about it..... hopefully before the kids' life-chances are wrecked by gesture politics.

All things considered, it looks as though the new exams will be fairer, simpler, less open to manipulation and gaming. Candidates who are particularly prone to 'exam nerves' may be relatively disadvantaged, but a bit of sensitivity and imagination could reduce that risk considerably.

What won't help is a display of ideological posturing and digging-in. These changes are going to happen, so it's best to make sure they are tweaked and fine-tuned rather than vainly opposed.

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 11:49

Interesting to see these highly negative comments about Geoff Barton who is much respected in the profession and by readers of the TES, where he writes good sense. At the Independent Academies Conference last week, at which I took part in a panel with amongst other a senior official at the DFE, the question was asked about what would happen in future to the academies which are resolutely ignoring the current E Bacc league table metric. One head at the conference said unashamedly that her school had a 'big fat zero' in EBacc. This is a school that is popular and rated highly by Ofsted.

The officials response was that this was for the school to decide what was best for its pupils. There was no mention of schools being penalised for doing this. The consultation about accountability should of course be run concurrently with the consultation about KS4 reform since the two issues are inextricably linked. If the suggestions now is that schools will be penalised for acting autonomously in the interests of their pupils, in the way government says they should, surely that should be spelled out now?

More importantly maybe there seems to be a formidable alliance developing, including everyone from the head of Eton to the heads of academies in very disadvantaged areas, that this reform is the wrong one. I hardly think this is vain opposition but will the government listen?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 12:11

Interesting to see these highly negative comments about Geoff Barton

I made no negative remarks about Geoff Barton. Only about Geoff Barton's (threatened) behaviour. I'm sure you're familiar with the difference.

The officials response was that this was for the school to decide what was best for its pupils. There was no mention of schools being penalised for doing this.

Quite right too.

If the suggestions now is that schools will be penalised for acting autonomously in the interests of their pupils, in the way government says they should, surely that should be spelled out now?

But that isn't the suggestion. You are conflating two quite different things. Refusing to enter any students for any recognized (for performance tables) exams in Maths and English is something of a wholly different order than judging that their best interests aren't served by doing all 6 EBacc subjects. Without any recognized Maths and English qualifications, the whole cohort would be denied progression to 16-19 and higher education.

Maybe Geoff Barton didn't mean to imply that he'd boycott all recognized Maths & English exams (though Janet implies he did by quoting him in the context of a discussion about English exams). If what he actually meant was not signing up for the full EBacc, then that's another thing. My view is that - whatever he meant - threatening boycotts and stand-offs with Michael Gove probably isn't in the best interests of his students.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 12:32

Fiona - the CBI's latest report suggests that the emphasis should be on assessment at 18 not an anchronistic system based on exams at 16. The CBI can hardly be accused of "gesture politics"

The consultation into EBCs hasn't yet finished. This has to be analysed and its results published before exam boards can begin bidding for the new exams. Presumably there will be consultation at this stage too (well, maybe not, perhaps the content will be predetermined with the exam board's dancing to Gove's tune or they won't get the contract). Then syllabi (or syllabuses) will need publishing and ready by September 2014 to give teachers a year to prepare.

And "children's life chances" won't be wrecked by not taking EBCs. The important stage will be 18+ graduation, whether by the present system of A levels or vocational exams: new generation Level 2 and 3 BTECs, OCR Nationals (rebranded Cambridge Nationals), Cambridge Technical qualification Levels 2 and 3, City and Guilds Work Ready qualifications, City and Guilds Principal Learning qualifications.

EBCs are an irrelevance. Worse, they avoid the real discussion: what is education for?

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 12:36

The DFE official at the IAA conference was Hardip Bergol - Acting Director of Curriculum and Qualifications REform at the DFE.

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 12:42

One possible route for schools to take is the MYP - the IB Middle Years programme - that is a highly rated international qualification that wouldn't necessarily include taking GCSEs. This programme of study is already being used in some public schools and I am quite sure that wouldn't be the case if it limited progression routes. With the raising of the School Leaving Age it will increasingly be the qualifications at 18 that count.

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 12:34

I think accusing any head teacher of making a suicide leap that will wreck their pupils life chances is a pretty serious charge.

We have noticed that you post under a number of different pseudonyms. Could you possibly tell us your true identity or would you rather not put your name to these sorts of baseless accusations?

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 12:46

Ricky - read the following sentence, which appears in the article at the top of this thread, carefully:

"Geoff Barton, also contributing to the debate, said heads should have nothing to do with EBCs and choose more appropriate exams for their pupils even if it meant the exams didn’t count towards league tables."

Now answer the following comprehension questions:

1 Is Barton calling for a boycott of all exams in English?
2 Is Barton calling for heads to choose exams which are more appropriate for their pupils than EBCs?

The answer to the first question is No. It is, therefore, incorrect to say he was implying a complete boycott. The answer to the second question is Yes. Barton recognises that it is a head's duty is to act in the best interests of pupils and enter them for the most appropriate exam.

Perhaps you should get together with A Pedant for comprehension lessons (but then, perhaps not, since s/he didn't know there were two acceptable plurals for the word syllabus and made him/herself look rather silly - a silly wuss, in short*).

*I know, the pun's awful.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 14:23

The IB MYP is very good. But you can't just buy it off the shelf. It takes a long time for a school to prepare to become an IB World School and any application to become one is not guaranteed to be accepted.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 13:58

Reply to Janet + Fiona

Is Barton calling for a boycott of all exams in English?

I am basing my understanding of what Geoff Barton is proposing entirely on your account Janet, as I did not hear him speak.

What you have told us is:

Geoff Barton, also contributing to the debate, said heads should have nothing to do with EBCs and choose more appropriate exams for their pupils even if it meant the exams didn’t count towards league tables.

(I have added the emphasis to the last, crucial bit.)

We do not know at the moment whether any exams other than EBCs will count towards "league tables" (by which I assume he means the various performance indicators in the DfE Performance Tables used for school accountability. My hunch is that IGCSEs might count, but it's only a hunch, and it could well be that in Maths and English, they won't. But given that IGCSEs and EBCs are likely to be pretty similar, it would be odd if Geoff Barton were merely proposing to move to IGCSEs. So let's set IGCSEs aside for the mo).

What we are left with is a proposal to boycott EBCs entirely ( "heads should have nothing to do with EBCs") and to offer alternative exams that probably won't be recognized as pathways to progression in education ("{exams that} didn’t count towards league tables").

Were any school not to offer those exams that are prescribed in the definition of floor standards, that would certainly be a suicide leap. And it would certainly impact upon the life chances of the students in a big way.

That is why I find it hard to believe that Geoff Barton meant to be understood as threatening to boycott exams recognized for league tables in Maths & English.... and was more likely to have been talking about EBCs in History, Geography or whatever.

However, it was you Janet who chose to quote him in a discussion about GCSE English in a way that strongly suggested that English would be included in his proposed boycott and it was both you and Fiona that suggested a possible political motive - "a formidable alliance developing" and "the take up of the exam is in doubt".

My own view, as expressed above, is that you are quoting Barton out of context. And far from leveling any "pretty serious charge" against him, I believe that if the government were to proceed with these reforms, Geoff Barton would come round to accepting them ( "worth calling Mr B's bluff on this").

We have noticed that you post under a number of different pseudonyms.

I don't make a habit of that. On this occasion, knowing that I wanted to address the substantive points Janet had made, I did use another pseudonym (A Pedant) for what was meant to be a 'sidebar' joke. Since the first half of my name is the same as the screenname - Ricky - it's only the Tarr that makes it pseudonymous and any different from others who post here with first name only....e.g. Sarah. What I certainly don't do is what others more intimately connected to this place DO do - borrow real names from the world of opera to use as sock puppets to launch vicious ad hominem attacks.

I would abandon the cloak of anonymity gladly if it were not for the fact that my employers have a "Social Media Policy", which requires clearance of every posting (even on one's own Facebook page) of each and every comment touching upon matters of controversy. Sadly, only by withholding the surname can one speak "as if one were in a free country".

Janet........ Yes the pun's awful AND the point is inaccurate. A Pedant did acknowledge from the off that "some dictionaries" do accept "syllabi". (Saying something is "acceptable" of course merely invites the question "acceptable to whom?")

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 15:37

"It takes a long time for a school to prepare..." Exactly - something Mr Gove should keep in mind with his rushed introduction of EBCs.

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 16:35

Very good point Janet.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 20:07

I hope that isn't a reference to me, Ricky/Pedant, because it would be unsubstantiated. You launch a feeble attempt at defending your conduct here but can you explain why you have also posted under the name of another (female) and regular contributor? What is the excuse there - an attempt to smear her?

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 16:08

Ricky aka A Pedant - reply to above long post (no reply button). It matters not one jot to a pupil who's taken an exam whether the exam is included in league tables. iGCSEs were not included in league tables until recently and that didn't stop independent schools and others offering them. Neither did it damage pupils' life chances.

I wouldn't have thought that the term "some dictionaries" included the most respected dictionary in the world - the Oxford. "Some dictionaries" has a slightly belittling connotation as in "Some dictionaries might accept this usage but more erudite ones do not".

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/11/2012 - 16:27

So, Ricky, you're Ricky Tarr (from John Le Carre) and A Pedant (a side bar joke). What other names have you used?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 10:31

None that I can recall. And I've no idea what Allan/Marius or whatever he's calling himself this week is going on about in his female impersonator jibe.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 10:38

Ricky - you seem to be able to remember comments tucked away in threads made weeks ago but you can't "recall" whether you've used any other names. Selective memory, perhaps?

Allan Beavis's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 18:10

I think you've humiliated yourself with your multiple identites intended to smear. The contributor in question asked for the comment you made - fraudulently, maliciously and with intent to libel - to be removed.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 10:45

No, not selective. I'm just baffled by the accusation. I do remember that the very first time I visited this site....probably more than a year ago, I noticed that some comments were labelled 'Guest' and I remember thinking that if one were not a fully signed up member of the LSN 'club' it might be correct protocol to sign in as 'guest' - as is the case on some other sites. What I can't remember is if I worked out this wasn't the case before posting a comment.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 21:08

Allan

Your mendacity is rivalled only by your hypocrisy. I have never sought to libel or impersonate Rebecca.

The only person who frequently and systematically uses multiple identities on this site is you with your Marius sock puppet. And the only person I've seen libel anyone is you - with your vicious and entirely uncalled-for smear of Ben's family's language school.

Frankly, I'm amazed at the fuss being made over someone changing their screen name to "A Pedant" to make a pedantic point. It's a commonplace .....probably rather a cliche.... on other sites.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 22:39

I can't remember exactly what that post which was written in my name and I reported was but it wasn't a particularly nasty one. It was just odd if I remember rightly.

I don't think swapping to be 'a pedant' is a problem because you're not impersonating anyone. If you do it often it's dull because it spams of up the forum.

Allan Beavis's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 18:45

As usual, you demonstrate a tenuous adherence to fact. It was Ben himself, for reasons known only to himself to out his family's involvement in a language school. I never mentioned or made any reference to them. But then this is another example of your tendency to distort and misrepresent. Your accusations against me are completely unsubstantiated but your own so-called sock puppetry and posting as Rebecca have been proven. Your deviousness says more about you but of course you have no shame as you continue to launch attacks on other contribitours here under the cloak of anonymity. It is doubtful whether you would have the nerve to do so openly and with real conviction.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 12:02

So, Ricky Tarr aka A Pedant aka (possibly) Guest, are you now a "fully-signed up member of the LSN 'club'"? If so, how is it you can change your name since logging on requires a user name and password?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 13:38

I don't think you have to log on to comment Janet - only to post a new thread. Unless I'm permanently logged on. But then I've only used me own name so I don't know anything about posting under more than one name.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 14:17

You used to post on TES as Weebecka or somesuch, didn't you?

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 14:21

.....That's not supposed to be a dig at you, Rebecca..... just making the point that using a screenname isn't exactly unknown or generally regarded as disreputable in the blogosphere. In fact, pretty well everyone on the TES forums seems to write under a pseudonym. (And probably for good reason).

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 14:32

Indeed - here's the link to my profile.
http://www.tes.co.uk/myPublicProfile.aspx?uc=1369785

I posted anonymously briefly in 2010 as weebecka as part of my research for this article: http://www.scribd.com/doc/55142332/Exploring-Discussion-Forums
But my identity was outed repeatedly rapidly so I added my name to my profile as you can see. Obviously it's not something I've added recently as I was banned and blocked a long time ago.

There didn't seem to be anyone posting under a real name on TES at the time - I was just trying to fit in. That's my one and only escapade into anonymous posting.

I believe that the deepest truth is ethnographic so posting anonymously is a barrier to it. But I respect the realities of those who can only post anonymously. I lost my key source of income because I post and I know I'm lucky to be in a position where we've been able to cope and carry on despite that.

I think one day the right to take part in online consultation and discussion may be considered to be a human right and a necessary thing for high quality democracy. But I recognise that at the minute it's a luxury.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 15:26

Ricky - I've no objection to people using a pseudonym.. The question here is not about using one pseudonym but using many different ones on the same site which can result in confusion at best and deception at worst.

You may not be aware but someone posted a comment in Rebecca's name on another thread. This is the kind of thing that should be deplored - it is a breach of trust to imitate someone else. In some parts of the world it is illegal to impersonate another person online - in Louisiana, for example, online impersonation could lead to imprisonment:

http://www.fox8live.com/story/19193938/new-la-social-media-law-could-lan...

So, it's not disreputable to use a screenname - but it is disreputable to assume multiple identities on the same site or, worse, to impersonate someone else.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 16:31

Thanks for this info Janet - I'm really interested to hear anything anyone's aware of about emerging regulations and laws which are relevant to discussion forums.

We do have huge problems with forums which are managed for purposes other than free speech - be that by the moderators or by the inappropriate behaviour of participants.

I don't generally publicise my employment or the organisations I'm currently associated with any more due to the organised abuse which translated into lies being sent to discredit me to organisations I'm associated with.

People who post to encourage the discussion of reality and who like to hear diverse perspectives are a big problem for forums which have agendas they are not open about. For commercial news organisations the agenda often seems to be to drive as much traffic as possible through their websites by writing controversial posts and blogs which cause people to reply in anger. They then interact with the forums to 'keep them angry and keep people posting in anger' which can have very nasty consequences for participants and is of course a huge barrier to intelligent free speech.

I think Leveson needs to address this - even if it's only to propose further work which is beyond his current remit.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 21:12

Janet

Reading from the top of this thread it seems to me that apart from a brief appearance from Fiona, I am (as so often) the only person (when Rebecca's away) who has actually bothered to engage with the substance of your argument.

Although you usually try to keep threads on course, on this occasion you have preferred to mount a disproportionate series of ad hominem attacks on me rather than engage with the substantive points I made.

Disappointing.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 14:33

Ooops - two hyperlinks - I'll post that post in two parts so it actually appears.

Indeed – here’s the link to my profile.
http://www.tes.co.uk/myPublicProfile.aspx?uc=1369785

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 14:34

I posted anonymously briefly in 2010 as weebecka as part of my research for this article: http://www.scribd.com/doc/55142332/Exploring-Discussion-Forums
But my identity was outed repeatedly rapidly so I added my name to my profile as you can see. Obviously it’s not something I’ve added recently as I was banned and blocked a long time ago.

There didn’t seem to be anyone posting under a real name on TES at the time – I was just trying to fit in. That’s my one and only escapade into anonymous posting.

I believe that the deepest truth is ethnographic so posting anonymously is a barrier to it. But I respect the realities of those who can only post anonymously. I lost my key source of income because I post and I know I’m lucky to be in a position where we’ve been able to cope and carry on despite that.

I think one day the right to take part in online consultation and discussion may be considered to be a human right and a necessary thing for high quality democracy. But I recognise that at the minute it’s a luxury.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 14:35

Here's an insight into my thoughts on discussion forums at the moment if anyone's interested:
http://cyberrhetoricbyrebeccahanson.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/21st-century-...

Please feel free to comment on my blog.

Sally Davenport's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 22:50

I would just like to say that I love RickY's contributions to LSN although I don't necessarily, if ever, agree. He may not do as he has written, 'popular culture,' but he's definitely top of my pops for fuelling the discussion here on LSN. Long may his opinions remain here.

Hip hip hooray for RickY! x

PS RickY, what do you think of Rhianna's new album, Diamonds?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 22/11/2012 - 23:27

Oh no it's got to be Emile Sande:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsVIzK1VLdo

Ricky's been incredibly helpful to me in helping me build up a picture of how people have been misled over the consultations regarding Ofsted's compliance with the regulators code and I'm very grateful for that. I've experienced it myself directly but it's been very useful to corroborate what's being said. I've since checked it out with senior people at Ofsted and they are adamant that there was never any consultation where the regulators code was rejected (and of course the document trail shows precisely the opposite being true).

Ricky's complete lack of ability to see vast areas of the issues and the way he skates over them making links and drawing conclusions which aren't valid without realising it is terrifying. But it's also useful to engage with because this is the reality of what we're dealing with in government.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 08:05

Ricky aka A Pedant - reply to above (no reply button). You are correct, the thread has veered off from its subject. But your claim that you are the only one who has kept to the theme is incorrect. The first comment, which we now know was from you, was a supposed joke about the plural of syllabus. Some might argue that this was an attempt to belittle the points made in my article by focussing on my use of vocabulary. However, I joined in with the spirit (see my limerick and terrible pun).

I am disappointed that you should try and paint yourself as a victim suffering from a blast of ad hominem attacks. You have not been averse to doing this yourself. But leave that aside.

The alleged "attacks" from me comprised three short, quite reasonable, questions about your use of pseudonyms and a general comment which included information about the law in some parts of the world and on-line impersonation because someone had in the past imitated Rebecca. This is a reprehensible act, as I'm sure you'd agree.

These four posts compare with four comments about the thread's subject and three about your "joke".

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 09:15

And yet..... still not a single word about my detailed, point-by-point, response to your OP at 21/11/12 at 11:34 am.

This took reasoned issue with your contention that the planned exam reforms threatened another fiasco.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 09:33

Ricky the standard of your detailed point by point analysis is awful. It's woefully naive and skates around between deeply ignorant and ungrounded ideas without showing any insight into any of the issues or any awareness of your own limitations.

It's depressingly hard to know where to start.

If you want people to engage I think you need to ask them to engage with a much shorter and more focused post.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 10:56

Rebecca

Try this:

Nearly all of the factors identified as giving rise to 2012's problems - multiple specifications, modular exams, controlled assessment, comparable outcomes..etc will NOT apply to the first year of EBCs. Therefore, the chances of a similar fiasco are reduced, not increased. Discuss.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 16:02

Ricky I've never seen any indication that you have you have even the remotest insight into;
- what the purpose of assessment is
- how different types of assessment relate to the different purposes of assessment
- what can be assessed using different assessment tools
- how assessment relates to curriculum
- how assessment infrastructures are changing now we have the internet
and so on.

You also don't appear to have any clue as to what's involved in achieving the kinds of changes you propose nor have you shown any insight into how changes are achieved through consultation and by harnessing the goodwill and energy of people with ability.

Your claims and beliefs regarding the EBC lie in the same bubble of ignorance and hubris which generated the claims that a vastly better primary curriculum would be rapidly produced and implemented at the beginning of this government (where are we now? Have we actually moved beyond the very first, early stage draft of the primary maths curriculum which looks like it was written by a first term PGCE student?)

One of the first ideas trainee teachers have to engage with is that the superficial expectation that some people have that children are empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge is deeply wrong. It's week 1 stuff. I don't think you've even got through that stage yet in engaging with the reality of education. Or of people. And certainly not of organisations let alone hugely complex ones like state education.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 22:08

Rebecca

You are still avoiding the point, preferring to issue a stream of insulting or patronizing irrelevance.

Anything to offer on the point at issue?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 22:12

To put it in Govespeak Ricky,

I feel like I'm a metallurgist watching Mao proclaim that if everyone melts their teaspoons there will be a vast economic leap forward and knowing that he's not anywhere close to being able to understand the science needed to explain what will actually happen.

He's going to have an awful lot of people shot to try and make it happen and that at the end of that he'll probably still blame the people he had shot for the failure of his plan.

FJ Murphy's picture
Fri, 23/11/2012 - 22:22

Ricky, you have to understand that most contributors to LSN think that if you disagree with them and are not consumed by a hatred of Michael Gove, you are stupid, a Tory, want to privatize the whole state system or just evil, or possibly all of those. They also seem to have plenty of time to trawl the internet for tendentious research that supports their view, so they need to get out more.

Andy V's picture
Mon, 26/11/2012 - 10:30

Several contributors have suffered from attacks from glove puppets and trolls on this site. It is also true to say that my experience is that if one presents a counterpoint view all too frequently some responders will be personal and aggressive in their approach but if you highlight this, others will call it analogous with robust parliamentary style debate. It seem odd then that one person’s comments are characterised/legitimated in the latter manner whereas other people don't qualify for this justification. Put another way with a few splendid exceptions the majority of contributors form a cabal and defend each other to the last and woe betide any who disagree the cabal’s views - no matter how dismissively and draconianly (new word!) utilitarian these may be (e.g. scrapping all fee paying schools will uplift national educational performance, scrapping Ofsted will automatically improve school performance, all Free Schools are inappropriate and a waste of money).

Oh, how I wish one could simply debate and disagree/agree without the venom and personalised attacks. Oh, how I wish one could robustly debate placing the educational opportunities of our future - the nations youngsters their personal and economic wellbeing - at the forefront and set petty party political ideologies aside. It is the latter that have wreaked havoc down the decades.

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