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Blog: Are teachers responsible for inflated grades?

Jun 01, 2012

One of the issues surrounding teachers' pay and conditions is the perception that education in this country simply isn’t good enough. Or, at least, not as good as it used to be.

And that leaves us in a pickle. After years of ‘investment’ by Labour, which led to improving exam rates at GCSE and then at A level, Universities declared this was a sham because they’d had to hold remedial classes for students to learn how to write!
Everyone (even my teacher friends) admit the exams were getting easier but point to the diligence and hard work from students which improved the grades.

And now we have Ofqual, the body responsible for exams, announcing that GCSEs and A levels are less demanding. If you haven’t read their report the bottom line is that what was a C grade pass in 2003 is now, generally, a great A grade at GCSE.
That’s one massive dumbing down of expectations.

This is partly due to the increased use of multiple choice in exams. Bright pupils do not get the opportunity to express themselves properly as they would do in an essay-based test.
The news means that the Government will now press ahead with wholesale changes - exams with tougher questions, fewer re-sits and less use of modules to pass. All just in time for the new curriculum coming in. Though, no doubt, these two issues are not linked.

I’m still left thinking that there’s a huge issue behind this: teachers’ pay increased as the ‘successful’ system bent to Labour’s demands for more people to enter University and the losers are not only the students who have not been challenged enough but also teachers.

Calls for the sacking of poor teachers were made before this report came out and the argument was they were holding pupils back.
Back from what? Is it the teacher or the system which has failed? How do we decide which is a failing teacher? I was appalled to read about the youngsters at Coventry’s Richard Lee Primary School having the ‘worst teaching conditions in the country’ according to Nick Gibb, minister of state for schools.

These pupils have lessons in corridors and have to use umbrellas because the ceiling leaks. This is just incredible.
The whole education system is a shambles and the finger pointing has to stop: now is the time for proper investment in the buildings, staff and the hopes for our future.

Because without resolving the dumbing down of the curriculum we are left with one thing – a generation of teachers working in unbelievably difficult conditions trying to work for everyone and no-one.
You know something is wrong when prestigious private schools say that GCSE’s are pointless. We need to tackle this and we need teachers to get behind the drive for improved attainment.

Because without it the profession will undermine its own standing and then we will all be faced with a proverbial sledgehammer crushing a nut situation as the government brings in wholesale reforms which will have massive public support but none within teaching itself.

Ofqual: Fit for purpose A Levels
Exams less demanding
Leaky school
Teachfind blog


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