At the chalkface: The Election

Written by: Ian Whitwham | Published:

His baleful legacy endures. Hatched for years, like the mother’s egg in Alien, it has finally burst out to blight the poor mites in all its slimy horror – terminally dull tasks, mere information retrieval, and dire subject content

The election result beckons. I’m assuming doom, that the Tories will have a most whopping landslide, that the populace will vote for the sainted Theresa, because she is terrifically strongandstable in a church fete, black-hearted sort of way, and that they will not vote for Jezza, because he’s terrifically weak and raving in a bearded Marxist-Leninist sort of way. Just think – we could have better hospitals, schools, trains, energy for a start – and no tuition fees, no atom bombs...

Well, we don’t want that kind of thing.

So... what’s in store for education?

The same old and then some, I fear. All the lovely promises – a return to the 50s, more grammar schools, more bent Academies, more costly Free schools, more overcrowded classrooms, more thin gruel for breakfast, more infant paupers croaking in the lunch hour and more teachers going broke or barmy or living in a matchbox or on the streets.

Let’s look at this week’s atrocity, the new GCSE in English, a Tory omnishambles from inception to non-delivery. The Gove, of course, was the sage behind this. His baleful legacy endures. Hatched for years, like the mother’s egg in Alien, it has finally burst out to blight the poor mites in all its slimy horror – terminally dull tasks, mere information retrieval, and dire subject content. Strongandstable, without any imagination.
Theresa May territory.

Can it get worse? Easily.

A new marking system comes on stream this year. It will be more challenging, says the DfE and will “create gold-standard qualifications and allow young people to compete in an increasingly global workplace”. Savour this sentence. Banal. Corporate. Insulting. Emetic. An invincible GCSE fail.

Out go fuddy-duddy letters. In come cutting-edge numbers. It will now be marked out of 9 to 1, not A to U. Why? Who knows? Something to do with “rigour”. According to Dr Tim Leunig, chief scientific advisor to the DfE, it will be so rigorous that very few pupils will gain straight 9s. “Two is my guess – not a formal DfE prediction. With a big enough sample, I think someone will get lucky,” Tim twitters.

Can this obfuscating murk be explained? Not as such. Not in the so-called “purdah” of an election. It can’t be revealed. Too sensitive. And Ofqual has not been able to model any outcomes at candidate level. As such. So it’s the most rubbish exam yet with a completely incoherent mark scheme. A miracle of incompetence, all part of the Tory educational drift, profoundly misguided. Will we really be voting for this?

  • Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher.


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