If the Government thinks that Ofqual’s report upholding this year’s GCSE English grades will dampen the anger then it should read TES for 31 August 2012.
I’m a long-time TES reader and don’t remember the paper ever seething with such rage. The editorial* said that “shiftng a grade boundary a couple of kilometres at the eleventh hour does not in any sane universe constitute an improvement in the quality of learning” and suggest that the whole debacle is a lesson in “the art of cynical manipulation.”
Geof Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, wrote that pupils had been “sacrificed for an ideology
The letters are excoriating. A Dorset deputy head says “the obsession with comparative outcomes and the political benefits of grade inflation/deflation have destroyed a world-leading system” while Andy Bowles, former education lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan, asks why anyone is surprised that this government interfered “directly or indirectly in Ofqual”. He says that the existence of both Ofqual and Ofsted relies on their finding “evidence” which does not contradict the government’s ideology. A Hampshire study skills tutor calls for Gove to go, saying he is a “liar and a cheat”. Strong words – and it’s significant that TES printed them on its letter page.
Ian Sharp, an educational consultant, writes that the “hard-line marking” damaged the very students which the government says it wants to help. This accusation is echoed by, among others, the Academies Enterprise Trust
(AET), which runs 29 academies, and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust
And now it appears that Ofqual foresaw a possible problem with modular exams three years ago but failed to implement a solution
This fiasco goes beyond the debate about normative assessment (something I favoured if GCSE C were to remain a sign of above-average ability) or criterion referencing or even how exam boards set their grade boundaries. Confidence has been severely undermined. It’s time for GCSEs to go
. At least that would bring the UK into line with most of the rest of the developed world (see FAQs above for information about exam systems in other countries).
*The editorial doesn’t seem to be available on-line. If you find the link please post it in comments. Letters can be viewed by visiting TES online
, finding the 31 August 2012 edition and clicking on letters.