Trevor Fisher: GCSE Reform – Gove's legacy and the the public schools.

Janet Downs's picture
This was posted on behalf of Trevor Fisher who was unable to upload the article

The Gove GCSE exam reforms have largely flown under the radar. The potential for unravelling 14-19 education and the HE sector rests on the untested nature of the proposals, ignored partly because the name (GCSE) was kept and the Lib Dems were involved in the process of reform. Labour says nothing about GCSE reform in its education statement, apparently endorsing the view as the Lib Dems have that GCSE was dumbed down – under Labour. It’s not going to be an issue in the election, but will be as the reforms develop, the first (Maths and English) due to start this September (2015).

However there is a wider problem developing, flagged up by the report in the Sunday Times of 5th April which reported that the public schools – or some of them – are pulling ahead of state schools in the 16 plus league tables. Hidden in the article was a quote from a Grammar School head pointing out that the independent sector is increasingly taking the IGCSE – international GCSE – and this is widely regarded as easier than the GCSE. While this wider problem remains uncontested by Labour, it will be focussed by the danger of educational apartheid if the public schools reject Gove's reforms and continue to go down the IGCSE route – which the Coalition is trying to stop the sector from doing, in a bizarre rejection of one of Gove's few useful reforms.

By June there is a growing risk – which could hit the press – of a two tier system, private versus state, developing in the summer. As Richard Pring and others have pointed out, the independent schools are abandoning GCSE (they never took vocational equivalents, which seem to have been purged via the Wolf report anyway). Particularly in the Head Masters Conference, schools are moving to IGCSE (International GCSE). ConDems do not like this, and the existing IGCSE was banned from the performance tables for the 2014 exams. Colleagues may recall in January a minor scandal as schools like Westminster fell to the bottom of the League tables. They had ignored the ConDems and carried on with IGCSE. Thus they had no successes to report. Allegedly. However this minor scandal points to a much bigger one.

Teachers in the state sector are under increasing pressure to gamble with Gove. While the Reformed IGCSE ((R)IGCSE) is approved so can be funded, in January Schools Minister Nick Gibb decreed that the (R)IGCSE, though approved, will not be included in the Performance Tables in January 2018. It sounds a long way off. However the decision to do Reformed IGCSE or Gove's patent GCSE exams has to be taken this summer term. Unlike A level, co-teaching is not possible.

The pressure is on the state schools to do RGCSE and abandon the IGCSE, even if the Reformed versions, via the wholly illegitimate threat to exclude them from the performance tables. By the autumn if state schools capitulate to take RGCSEs for Maths and English, then we could be on the way to considerably higher failure rates by 2017, with other RGCSEs following suit in 2018 and even higher failure rates on a rolling problem. The system however moves into crisis well before 2018 if the HMC schools reject the Gove GCSE. (RGCSE for short) as the public schools may have an even marked advantage than the Sunday Times report noted.

The ban on IGCSE only applies to state schools, and only to performance tables – there is no real ban. However the performance table edict may pressure state schools to take the new GCSEs which are more like O Level than GCSE. Labour could make it clear that the ban will be lifted and state schools can do IGCSE. This should be implemented if Labour is in government after May. A system in which private and state schools do different exams at 16 plus is possible, and dangerous. Who wants exam apartheid?

Because OFQUAL has refused to test or pilot any of the exams, no one really knows whether Reformed GCSEs are harder than IGCSE. But a higher failure rate is certainly possible – in Maths and English from summer 2017. If Maths and English go down, followed by other GCSEs in 2018, the impact on post 16 will be dramatic. People who think A level is the problem have missed the point. If students don't pass GCSE, A level becomes irrelevant.

It is a fact that the local FE college here in Stafford is telling its students get your Maths and English GCSEs this summer, because they will be harder next year. And then there is the problem of Raising the Bar.

Raising the Bar

The underlying problem which applies from primary at age 4 is the theory of “Raising the Bar”. GCSE changes have to be seen medium term in this longer context. The theory, which was sold to the Lib Dems is the dogma that standards improve by “Raising the Bar”. At GCSE level Labour had allegedly 'dumbed down' GCSE, and has not argued against this, so presumably accepts the charge. But more profoundly the ConDems adopted across the board (from primary age 4 to 19 plus) the dogma that if you raise the bar (make tests harder) automatically performance improves. Students simply work harder and jump higher. The metaphor of the high jump isn't well founded, if my recall of the athletics at the Olympics is accurate, the athletes knocked the bar down and were eliminated the higher it was set. There is thus a bigger picture of the use of tests (and our kids are overtested) to be kept in mind.

The GCSE problem is the danger that the new harder courses won't be suitable and kids will start to fail, reversing the trend to more successes of the last 30 years (the reactionary perspective is that this is due to dumbing down, so the bar must be raised). It has been tried before. Harder exams normally lead to high failure rate, and this is what happened the last time it was tried, with Maths A level in Curriculum 2000, as Margaret Brown argued in the SOSS pamphlet. It took Maths A Level the best part of a decade to recover to its current healthy numbers (now Maths is the most widely taken A Level).

The immediate agenda

The immediate agenda is to get state teachers to do the Reformed IGCSE and ignore the 2018 performance tables - Labour should reverse the Gibb edict. But most state school teachers will inevitably do Gove's GCSEs and so the questions about English and Maths have to be answered. It is not too late to pilot them. The row over AQA maths (in January – led to testing) means there will be some data at least on Maths RGCSE.

Labour should immediately set in train an investigation into possible increased levels of failure and the direction of travel. There was a minor downturn in passes in 2014 when the no early entry rule kicked in, and it is a moot point what happened to the students who failed, particularly in English and Maths. This needs investigation, as students who fail cannot go on post 16. This pool of failed students is at risk of getting much bigger if schools go down the RGCSE line. The independent schools, who cannot afford to see their sixth forms shrinking, are unlikely to take the risk and will stick with IGCSE – this should be known by the summer. But why should state schools gamble with Gove? Is the role of performance tables so crucial they deny students the chance to get those all important passes to meet Performance Table criteria?

Longer term we need a better system for making decisions, preferably an independent commission on exams and testing. But for the next few months, addressing the Reformed GCSE must be a high priority. While Gove has passed his time in office – for the moment – his exam reforms are toxic and could become his most dangerous legacy if not challenged. The fact that the independent schools seem set to ignore Gove and continue switching to IGCSE should be sounding alarm bells.

Trevor Fisher
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Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 14/04/2015 - 10:30

A local grammar school is sticking with IGCSE in some subjects. It did the same last year and is unconcerned that it is the worst-performing state secondary in the area. As a grammar, of course, it can afford to be nonchalant - parents know the school isn't really 'failing' or 'underperforming'.

However, pressure on comprehensives or secondary moderns to perform well in the league table stakes may prevent them from entering pupils for IGCSEs. These, remember, were included in a promise in the last Tory manifesto to allow state schools to compete on the same playing field as private ones and include IGCSEs in league tables.

But in an attempt to force state schools to embrace Gove GCSEs, the Tories have reneged on this promise.

The next Government should allow schools to enter pupils for the most appropriate exams for their pupils, reduce the high-stakes nature of exams at 16 and move to graduation at 18 via multiple routes.

In the meantime, non-grammars which wish to do so should enter candidates for IGCSEs - if enough did so it would make league-tables meaningless.

Andy V's picture
Tue, 14/04/2015 - 11:16

I agree with the position that HTs of state secondary schools should (nay must) step up to the plate and be counted in terms of moral leadership. The moral imperative is to do what is best for ones pupils and implicitly colluding with the government by changing to RGCSEs while the Private sector stick with IGCSEs is a failure of that moral imperative.

There is a lot written about the HTRT and dissonance within the education sector but this is a ripe opportunity to draw a line in the sand and say, no, no, no. As Janet rightly points up if sufficient HTs and GBs had the moral bottle to reject the RGCSE position then the school performance tables would be meaningless. Added to this would be:

1. The neutralisation of Ofsted as a politicised regulator
2. The removal of all the non-conforming HTs and GBs would simply not the tenable
3. The implausibility of academising every school involved
4. The requirement for a public admission that the drive to reverse the 'dumbing down' of GCSEs during the Labour years lacked an joined up thinking in terms of the arbitrary floor targets that are still based on the old and not reformed GCSEs (i.e. if the floor targets are based on easier dumbed down GCSEs then they must be reduced to reflect the harder reformed versions)

Someone has to suspend the introduction of the reformed GCSEs and undertake a root and branch review of what is needed and then think it through across the board: take account of the ripple effect and minimise unintended consequences.

This is an absolute classic example of party political ideologies creating havoc for innocent parties who have no say and no impact in terms of defending their interests. Who am I referring to, why the poor defenceless pupils of course. Who will lament the impact and have gnashing of teeth about poor quality education and its impact on the economy, industry and commerce. Who is being hood winked by all the political parties, the general public. Whose hard earned taxes are being wasted, the public and employers.

The time is well overdue for taking education policy away from the government of the day and place its long term future and development with a wholly independent body that is in turn answerable to parliament.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 14/04/2015 - 11:46

Andy - you're absolutely right. The role of an Education Department is to ensure schools have sufficient funding to fulfill their primary function - educating children not just pushing them through tests and over arbitrary targets. It has little role in deciding curricula except to say children are entitled to a broad, balanced education and laying down, in broad terms, what this curriculum should cover (subjects, that is, not the minutiae which should be decided at school level). It has no role in recommending (or, worse, mandating) teaching methods that happen to be favoured by school ministers (because they once went to school and such methods worked with them - this makes them educational experts).

The Secretary of State should not mandate particular exams. If autonomy means anything at all, it means the freedom for heads to decide on the most appropriate exams for their pupils and not be forced into entering pupils for ill-conceived exams because of league tables.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Tue, 14/04/2015 - 13:29

Yes it is a mess in all the ways that Trevor, Janet and Andy point out. But what is the ultimate reason for this mess?

This, from Trevor's post, is highly significant.

"The GCSE problem is the danger that the new harder courses won’t be suitable and kids will start to fail, reversing the trend to more successes of the last 30 years (the reactionary perspective is that this is due to dumbing down, so the bar must be raised)."

By 'fail' Trevor presumably means getting a grade less than C.

It is a fact that cognitively ability varies according to the normal (bell curve) distribution and it always will. It is also a fact that if all schools and teachers are equally effective and all pupils try equally hard and all pupils achieve equal gains in cognitive function and the exams validly assess the application of said cognitive function, then the pass marks achieved in said exams must also vary according to the normal (bell curve) distribution.

All this confusion is caused by trying to use aggregated exam results to put schools in league tables. This is a process which, despite its having been the basis of the English education system since 1988, has no statistical validity.

So where do you place the 'pass' mark? In Section 1.10 of 'Learning Matters' (sorry Guest) I set out and explain how the C grade threshold has moved from about the 80th national percentile in the GCE era to well below the 40th percentile. This is how I put it in 'Learning Matters'.

"The C grade [first] became the grade an average pupil should expect to attain. Before long the ‘average’ became dropped and the C grade became the ‘expected’ grade for all secondary pupils (alongside SATs Level 4 for primary pupils). This reduced the C grade threshold at first to the average, 50th percentile (former CSE Grade 4 – below GCE ‘E’ Grade equivalence), rather than the 80th percentile required for ‘matriculation’ in the GCE system. Later, when English and maths were made compulsory within the 5+A*-Cs needed for league tables, the C grade was further devalued to become the ‘expected’ grade for acceptable literacy and numeracy, the assumption being that all pupils should be able to achieve this if attending any school with acceptable standards. This in effect reduced the C grade to well below the 40th percentile (CSE grade 5)."

I note that Trevor refers to this as the 'reactionary' explanation. Well the alternative seems to require acceptance of the New Labour and current Conservative claim that this dramatic improvement in the attainment of sub CSE Grade 5 students from being 'ungradable', to being able to understand (say) maths at the level required by GCE students in the 1950s and 60s came about as a consequence of the Baker 1988 Education Act and the subsequent marketisation reforms of GERM.

Or was it just the miracle of comprehensive reforms before their alleged collapse into knife crime threatened jungles in the 1980s?

Shayer and Adey did indeed record high attainment of cognitive function in the science reasoning tasks that they tested on a large scale in the 1970s. However they then subsequently recorded a huge decline during the era of marketisation.

Shayer M, Ginsberg D., (2009) Thirty years on – a large anti-Flynn effect/ (II): 13- and 14-year-olds. Piagetian tests of formal operations norms 1976–2006/7. British Journal of Educational Psychology, Volume 79, pp. 409-418.

This is addressed in detail in Sections 5.10 and 5.11 of 'Learning Matters'.

My conclusion (5.11) is as follows.

" My hypothesis, an invitation for others to argue about, is that degraded and corrupted curriculum involving the large scale abandonment of pupil practical activity in science lessons and the increased substitution of crude behaviourism for developmentalism as the ruling pedagogy in English schools, combined with successive perverse outcomes arising from the operation of the imposed market are combining to produce an ever tightening spiral of real educational decline that continues to manifest itself in new and often surprising ways."

Sorry if that's too reactionary.

The very real and important issues raised in this thread can only be addressed by ditching the concept of a 'pass mark' at GCSE. This is explained in Section 2.1 - 'Educational failure - by definition' of 'Learning Matters' as follows.

"Far from being a sign of failure on the part of anybody such a continuously variable exam performance should be the outcome of any sound exam system. The 2010 coalition government, like its Labour predecessor, wrongly persisted in regarding this as an ‘achievement gap’ related to social disadvantage that has to be closed, rather than an outcome attainment spectrum consequent upon predicable natural variation in cognitive ability. The ‘achievement gap’ between the bottom and the top of a normal bell curve distribution cannot be ‘closed’ without lowering overall standards and inflicting damage on the education system. This is a major theme running through this book [Learning Matters].
CAT scores accurately predict the exam results of cohorts of pupils (the larger the cohort, the better the prediction) in all exams that validly test general reasoning ability. The greater the cognitive challenge of particular subjects, the better the prediction. As cognitive ability is continuously variable according to the bell curve, so should be pupil performance in exams. There is therefore no obvious threshold of attainment that indicates an ‘acceptable’, and still less, an ‘expected’ level of performance at any given age. Part 1 [of Learning Matters] explains from a historical perspective why any average or ‘expected’ level could not in any event be anywhere near the GCSE ‘C’ grade without doing great violence to the assumption of the maintenance of standards over time (1.10).
As for GCSE in the secondary phase, so for Key Stage 2 (KS2) tests in primary schools. As there can be no ‘expected level’ in a continuous distribution, the government ‘expectation’ of at least Level 4 for all pupils has no validity either."

All the SoS has to do is recognise the positive value of every grade on the present (A*- G) or future (9 - 1) system. That would be good for students too, as well as employers and the gatekeepers to apprenticeships, FE and HE.

agov's picture
Wed, 15/04/2015 - 09:50

An interesting thread. It so happens, Roger, that I have just read slightly beyond Section 1.10 of ‘Learning Matters’* and I also picked up on Trevor's use of 'reactionary'.

I think I see why Trevor is concerned about apartheid between state and private schools but I don't quite understand whether he thinks it wrong for there to be any possibility of anyone ever failing an exam. Or is the proposition that schools should do a reformed IGSCE because it will be harder and therefore more students would fail than with a reformed GCSE? Or possibly just something about teachers needing more time to ensure that everyone passes whichever exam is used? And is 'reactionary' a good or bad thing? Call me confused.

[* It may however take some time for me to get to Section 5.11 - not that I don't find it interesting and enjoyable when I get to it but what with election news and warmer weather, which obviously means even more time playing games on my PC, I don't have much spare time.]

Trevor Fisher's picture
Fri, 17/04/2015 - 17:57

I am not concerned about people exams. Happy to fail and as someone who desperately wanted to be a sportsman and ideally play for Aston Villa, and I mean it, realizing I was never going to make the grade was a character building experience. No problem at all with accepting failure.

The problem is league tables. Firstly,, Gibb declared state schools will be penalized if they take the IGCSE as it is not going to be used. Private schools can do them and grammars as well, and no one cares if they do badly. So the state sector is hammered. REad the Sunday Times of 5th Feb and you will see how the media work.

State schools will always dance to the tune of the government, even if IGCSE is better than reformed GCSE. And there are real indications that IGCSE actually is better. Coursework for example still survives in many IGCSEs, though possibly not the reformed IGCSEs.

SEcond problem, no one knows if IGCSE or Reformed GCSE is harder or not. OFQUAL has never tested the systems - and claims Piloting is impossible - which then relates to the National Reference Test, which is attempting what they have claimed is impossible with current exam reforms.

However the problems are not here technical but political. Whatever I think of the technical difficulties, the private schools have a choice. State schools are being manipulated into taking Gove's exams. This is the sticking point.

I will respond to Roger on cognitive ability and how to test it separately


Andy V's picture
Sat, 18/04/2015 - 10:37

Not sure I can go along with this.

To start with the bell curve/normal distribution and quintiles are only relevant when comparing the same data source. That is to say, GCSE with GCSE and specific subjects. While one you these methods to produce the stats relating all pupils sitting GCSE English Language it doesn't work for mixing the results from GCSE Literature with GCSE Physics. This is the same for GCE O Level and GCSE examinations. They are two completely different types of examination that focus on different K&U and skill sets. It is then not possible to compare the former and latter grades and thresholds. It is also a truth that the move away from O levels to GCSE was seriously flawed and undermined:

1. They both used alphabet based grades
2. Whereas O levels had a definitive cut off between pass grades (A-C) and all else was a fail the GCSE was a range of pass grades (A-G) with fail being a U or X
3. Employers never understood and/or ignored (1 and 2) above and simply transferred the former O level scenario (A-C pass and everything else is a fail - not worth having) to the GCSE grades

Additionally, and crucial the A Level debate since GCSEs were introduced is that while the O level was the solid (almost) linear foundation for the (gold standard) A Level the GCSE simply wasn't: it broke the continuum and hence didn't prepare students for the unreformed A Level.

From this basis I strongly suspect that Gove et al were fooling no-one with the move to numerical results codes and inverting the sequence: employers will simply take the top 4 numbers and translate them as being the equivalent to A*-C at GCSE and therefore A-C at the former O Level.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 18/04/2015 - 13:57

trevor - including IGCSEs in league tables was a Tory manifesto commitment the last time round. It would make state and independent schools compete on an even playing field (or something like that). However, with the advent of Gove GCSEs and the possibility that state schools would avoid these like the plague and switch to the established IGCSEs, the Gov't decided to disallow them from league tables thereby reneging on a manifesto promise.

State schools can still take IGCSEs but risk league table disaster. This doesn't matter for grammars - parents will ignore league table position as they've done with Bourne Grammar (officially, according to league tables, the worst-performing state secondary in Lincolnshire).

But other schools would find it more difficult to play the IGCSE card. It would be perceived as being an 'excuse' for low results.

However, if enough state secondaries shunned Gove GCSEs and enter pupils for IGCSEs, then league tables would be meaningless if they aren't already.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 18/04/2015 - 17:11

My concern revolves around the deeply political shenanigans that underpin this monstrous situation.

We are told that the coalition (Gove) considered that there had been year on year dumbing down of the GCSE examinations leading to year on year improvements that were actually illusory and creating a completely false impression of the performance of pupils and their schools. This was the rationale for Gove's drive on tightening up/remodelling the GCSEs; raising the bar.

The IGCSE was accepted as being on a par with the latter for it to be included in the DFE recognised qualifications and thence the school performance tables.

It is at this pint that the utter fallacy comes to the fore. That is to say, the unreformed GCSE and IGCSE were adjudged to be of equivalent rigour and worth and both were reflected in the performance tables. However, Gove determined that the GCSE was too easy and needed to be reformed to restore rigour and credibility. It follows then that this leaves the unreformed IGCSE as being inferior to the reformed GCSE. So that in turn means that state pupils gaining the reformed GCSE will be in possession of superior qualifications to their private school counterparts but if the reformed GCSE and unreformed IGCSE are still adjudged by Ofqual and the examination boards to have equivalence then the political nonsense is highlighted in sharp relief for what it is, an educational version of gerrymandering. However, it the remodelled GCSE is superior then the private sector are going to (a) look rather foolish and (b) surely become besieged by irate parents who will want to know why they are paying for inferior qualifications.

At this point I defer to my comments made on 14 Apr at 11.16 am above.

Between this situation and the National Reference Testing Head Teachers and Governing Bodies have been presented with a glorious opportunity to bring crashing to the ground the whole façade of performance tables and the nature/prevailing scenario of Ofsted operations. I just hope with every sinew of my being that sufficient schools will muster the moral compass to do act.

Trevor Fisher's picture
Sat, 18/04/2015 - 22:22

andy I will not reply to you unless you give your surname. This debate has to be conducted openly among people who identify themselves.

There is however no chance that the heads will rebel, and for reasons which are down to the media, which will always report their efforts as failure.

To change this needs campaigning, and for that people have to openly declare who they are.

trevor fisher.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 09:20

Trevor - That is of course your prerogative, as is any contributor's decision to choose an whatever tag they wish to or feel comfortable with. It is also interesting that I have no idea whether you are actually who you purport to be or as a Google search highlights whether you are the golfer or musician of the same name. However, if you are the UK based historian then I don't need to dwell overly much on history being littered with totalitarian style diktats. You also seem to miss the point that LSN is a forum for debate through the engagement of minds and ideas and is not a campaigning group.

agov - thank you for pointing up what should be the blindingly obvious.

agov's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 08:44

The truth content of a statement is not determined by the source of the statement.

Trevor Fisher's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 10:26

yes I am the UK based historian, and the member of the SOcialist Educational Associaition who edited their journal for 5 years, and am active in the Education world. Agov and Andy are not known to me though there are plenty of others on this site who are and work together. I am also involved in the Symposium on Sustainable Schools, whose web site is being set up and should be active at the election. You can buy two pamphlets I have edited on that site, and I hope readers of this site will do so.

The pamphlets have been advertised on this site, so there is no mystery about them. My biography is in both of the pamphlets.

And as a historian I am well aware that the truth of a statement is very much based on its source. My current research in historical terms is looking at the Religious document which allegedly shows that Shakespeare's father John was a catholic. We do not know the source, and the document has vanished. It was found in the rafters of the birthplace house well over a century after John Shakespeare died. How can it be credible unless we know the source? The politics of authenticity are starting to be a problem for education, as the recent issues over "failing" primary school pupils indicates. The sources are known, and they are all in the Tory party. Relevant? Of course so.

For a web site, to be taken seriously you have to identify yourself. Otherwise how do we know you are not interlopers out to exploit the site? Not that I am making any accusations, its simply not credible to remain anonymous. Particularly Andy when you are asking head teachers to take risky actions which could lead them to be sacked - and I have great sympathy with them given how performance tables are now manipulated - but you still will not tell us who you are. I draw no conclusions from this, but any head who took your advice without knowing (for example) if you are a head teacher yourself and will take your own advice would be justified in ignoring it. We do need a stand to be taken on performance tables. But if you want others to take risky actions, tell us who you are or why you will not do so.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 10:58

Please go back to the source comment and read what I wrote and do not overlay your (preferred) inaccurate interpretation. My opening and subsequent comments were in support of Janet's position and highlighted an opportunity wherein so minded HTs could act. I also made explicit reference to what I see as a moral imperative.

As for the rest of your comments I find they smack of a tendency toward boorish diktat with the potential to stifle freedom of expression and choice: trevor.fisher's way or no way.

What next trevor, will you be lobbying for agov and I (and any others that choose not to disclose their full or actual names) to be barred from the site.

Trevor Fisher's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 13:32

My first reaction is to treat this slur as beneath contempt, but a no response is sometimes seen as acceptance, so the answer is no.

I never campaign for people on blog sites to reveal themselves. But its legitimate to wonder why you do not reveal yourself.

You are asking teachers to play Russian roulette with their jobs. If there is a campaign aginst the manipulation of performance tables, and I hope there will be, it will only be people who show how they are who will be credible

Trevor Fisher

Andy V's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 13:57

I do so hope that this is your last word on the matter as the topic is getting to be rather tiresome. Your demands for contributors such as agov and myself to "show" ourselves lies somewhere on a line of being dictatorial, hectoring, pushy, rude and, yes, downright boorish. I have not attempted to tell you how to conduct yourself so please do resist the temptation to tell me how to. Good day.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 15:57

Andy - Time to chill. Aston Villa 2, Liverpool 1!

Something we can both celebrate I suspect.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 19/04/2015 - 18:56

Roger - Thanks for the thought but dinna worry I never got out of neutral.

The result was wonderful - an oasis in the midst of a truly drought ridden season!!

I suspect that Trevor will be celebrating too. Perhaps we 3 can join together in putting out the positive vibes of the final; may it be a good result but not quite equally so for Arsenal :-)

agov's picture
Mon, 20/04/2015 - 21:10

"yes I am the UK based historian, and the member of the SOcialist Educational Associaition who edited their journal for 5 year"

So nothing to do with this Trevor Fisher :- Stafford Borough Council election, 2003 - Milford (2 seat): Conservative Francis Finlay 904, Conservative Trevor Reeves 808, Liberal Democrat Trevor Fisher 278 (Turnout 1,159 33.98%)?

"as a historian I am well aware that the truth of a statement is very much based on its source"

This is just embarrassing.

"How can [a document found in a rafter] be credible unless we know the source?"

'Credibility' is a matter of acceptance, not truth. Many falsities have been accepted but false. Does this really have to be explained?

"The politics of authenticity are starting to be a problem for education"

If you tell me what that means I might tell you why it is wrong.

"The sources are known, and they are all in the Tory party. Relevant? Of course so."

Only politically. Not as a matter of truth. Do you actually understand that something is true if it is in accordance with the facts even though it may be difficult, as a matter of fact, to establish the facts?

"For a web site, to be taken seriously you have to identify yourself."

Says who?

"how do we know you are not interlopers out to exploit the site? Not that I am making any accusations, its simply not credible to remain anonymous."

Seriously? Named people can't be interlopers out to exploit the site? Sheesh!

""any head who took your advice ... would be justified in ignoring it"

You want to try that one gain?

"My first reaction is to treat this slur as beneath contempt"

What slur would that be?

"its legitimate to wonder why you do not reveal yourself"

Irrespective of how legitimate it may be anyone can wonder whatever they like but no-one appointed you as the board's arbiter.

"it will only be people who show how they are who will be credible"

Seems dubious. What about Captain Swing? -

David Barry's picture
Mon, 20/04/2015 - 21:27

As it happens I post under my real name on this site. But there are plenty of good reasons why people might wish not to post under their real name, and this site allows it. Trevor may, of course, decline to respond to people he believes are not using their real name.

No one has to respond to anything. Anyway.

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