At the chalkface: The exams van

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But who could it be? Who are the villains? And what could be their motives? Disenchanted teachers for whom the exams are rubbish and landfill? A St Trinian’s scam? A Molesworthian lark? A rival exam board? Management hitmen dreading Special Measures? Or f

It is not the first case of a vanishing van. They’ve gone AWOL before. Is there some kind of Academic Bermuda Triangle out there?

The latest incident prompted much panic and rewrites and the situation was quickly solved. And I’m not sure how serious this really is.

It might matter in some subjects, but it doesn’t in mine – English Literature. I could always guess the questions on Mice and Men, Macbeth or Miller. It didn’t change a thing. Some would still fail all ends up.

But who could it be? Who are the villains? And what could be their motives? Disenchanted teachers for whom the exams are rubbish and landfill? A St Trinian’s scam? A Molesworthian lark? A rival exam board? Management hitmen dreading Special Measures? Or flyboys flogging them in back alleys to the more fanatically aspirational academies?

Who know eh? Well, me. It’s not difficult to imagine... Scene:

A snooker hall in any inner city. Smoke curls up through cones of light. Some 11th years hover over a map across a table. Dave Mania, Little “LK” Kevin, Decibelle and Malcolm “Sex God” Perkins.

Borderline criminals maybe, but also borderline C grades with a massive fear of failure. You’re no one without a C grade these days. Street suss doesn’t cut it anymore. You could well end up just another derelict, begging by the ATM or sleepless on those anti-homeless spikes. This must be avoided by any means.

So they gaze at the map with mobiles and compasses, checking coordinates, grids, and speed limits on all roads, which link Manchester, Guildford and London.

“The AQA run.”

“Down the M1,” says Dave. “No, man, the M6,” says “LK”. 

“Or maybe the A1. Then the North Circular,” says Decibelle.

“We hack the sat nav,” says Perkins. “And they drive straight to us.”

“To the Little Chef and the lay-by.”

They high five. This is advanced stuff – in geography, cartography, trigonometry, IT and car maintenance 

“The safe might be difficult.”

“I’m on it,” says “LK”, the Alan Turing of the outfit. 

Thus the plan is hatched. So it might well have gone. None of this is true of course. It never happened.

The only crime here is the appalling pressures these wretched exams put on our pupils.

  • Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher.


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