There was a small but significant protest against the downgrading of the GCSE results
at the Department for Education today. A number of teachers spoke out, including a Head of English, a South London English teacher, a NUT rep and the General Secretary of the London Association for the Teaching of English (LATE), John Wilks. The highlights of their speeches are included in my YouTube video.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_fj242f3MA&feature=youtu.be
A few common points are emerging now. First, GCSE exam scripts needed to be urgently 're-graded' in line with January's grade boundaries because it will be far too late in a few months time for students who are about to enter the Sixth Form: the courses they opt for in September are dependent upon their GCSE grades. This can't wait for the Ofqual inquiry into the scandal, which may take months. Second, there needs to be an honest and frank discussion about how GCSE grades are decided. They are supposed to be "criterion-referenced"
; if students meet the criteria then they get the grade, no matter what anyone else has done. This means, in theory, everyone could get an A*, but so be it, if this is the case! Surely, that's the goal?? But, in fact, it now emerges, after a couple of decades of dishonesty, that they are really "norm-referenced"
like the old O Level; the government, the exam boards, and other powerful people, actually decide behind closed doors "quotas" of students to get specific grades. John Wilks pointed out this terrible contradiction to me in a succinct and clear way; if there are actually "quotas" of grades and our exam system is indeed "norm-referenced", then surely telling schools that they must meet grade benchmarks, such as saying 40%+ of pupils in a school must get 5 A*-C grades, is utterly disingenuous? The fact of the matter is that the government know a certain proportion of children, at the moment 40% of them, are not going to get the much heralded 5 A*-C grades. The government knows that certain schools MUST fail. Our pupils, our teachers, and our entire education system is in a Catch-22 situation; whatever it does, it fails in the eyes of the current regime. Perhaps that's why the teachers outside the DfE were shouting "Gove must go!"