Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

From the Editor - Tale of the Unexpected Wasn't in the Script: Opinion

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

From the Editor - Tale of the Unexpected Wasn't in the Script: Opinion

Article excerpt

A week after GCSE results were released we can be sure of some things. Unfortunately for pupils, who exactly got a C in English isn't one of them. Ofqual was due to report on that problem after TES went to press. But there are enough knowns among the unknowns to satisfy Donald Rumsfeld at his most unsure.

We know, for instance, that although ministers were keen to see an end to grade inflation, conspiracy theorists are wrong if they think this is how they wanted the story to unfold. Governments are no more competent in the shadows than they are in daylight. This one can't even manage an airport queue, for heaven's sake.

Any official script would not have had a reasonable debate on grade inflation hijacked by an almighty row about unfair examiners. Just as ministers were about to take a bow for ending the eternal rise in grades, the plot switched to pupils who had been denied Cs because the exam boards had not only moved the goalposts mid-term but also decided that what was a goal in January looked offside by June. The whole sorry process was about as convincing as Florida's "hanging chad" election. No, this was not in the script.

We can also be certain that it isn't about standards. Shifting 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. It merely shows that some hapless bureaucrat misplaced a decimal point and discovered the error too late.

We can be fairly sure, too, that grade inflation hawks will come to regret their zeal. Grade inflation is like the real thing. …

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