Assessment: We had a whiff of freedom – and blew it

The cancelled examinations were an opportunity for the profession to reclaim the Holy Grail of teaching and learning. Sadly, says Joel Wirth, this opportunity has been missed and we will now slowly slide back into the cage of high-stakes, data-driven accountability

If you were fortunate enough to get away this summer, you will have experienced a moment of profound revelation. It was to be found in those first seconds after you opened your own front door and briefly you detected the unique aroma of your own house as other people smell it.

I’ve always found this a deeply telling moment. Within a matter of minutes, the smell has disappeared, or rather, of course, you’ve become re-habituated to it.

But it must still be there, happily (or disloyally) telling the story of your family’s every foible to any visiting stranger: a penchant for fried food; a splash of fug and dust; eau de teenage boy; a damp miasma of never-quite-dry towel…

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