Letter from the Editor. Teachers Should be Listened to and Respected. Schools fear UK Government, OFQUAL and Exam Boards plotting A Level and GCSE Exams by the Back Door.
before then arguing just the opposite:
“These externally-set papers could be provided by exam boards…
An externally-set paper, marked by teachers, could support teachers as they determine the grades their students should receive. […]
The exam boards could also sample teachers’ marking as part of the external quality assurance arrangements and look to see how the school or college is using different sources of evidence. […]
Our consultation also proposes that exam boards use questions in their papers that are similar in style and format to those in normal exam papers. [….]
I hope this explanation goes some way to allay concerns that some students have expressed to us – that these are exams by the back door. They are not. But an externally-set task would help teachers by providing them with an external reference point, giving them greater confidence in the grade they were awarding.”
Consultation update and a proposal for externally-set papers. Simon Lebus. Interim Chief Regulator of OFQUAL
Detractors argue that it is fairly obvious, in practice, that these mini exams that are not exams would be used by OFQUAL to decide grades – with schools and teachers latitude to “make the right decision” crushed.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
So what are students heading for if Williamson et al have their way?
“We propose that teachers should assess their students objectively. To support them we propose the exam boards could provide guidance and training, along with papers which teachers could use to assess their students. The exam boards might work jointly on the guidance and training where appropriate.
Provision of papers by exam boards would support consistency within and between schools and colleges.
The teacher, through the marking of the papers, could consider the evidence of the student’s work and use that to inform their assessment of the grade deserved.
The exam boards could also sample teachers’ marking as part of the external quality assurance arrangements and to seek to ensure this was comparable across different types of school and college, wherever students are studying.
The use of exam board papers could also help with appeals.”
Help who? Not students
And… For could, replace will …..
Will this impact on the International Exam Boards and students in the UAE?
The Consultation specifically asks whether the government should ban the international exam boards from proceeding with exams:
“We need to decide whether the exam boards should be prohibited from offering exams in England, in other parts of the UK and elsewhere in the world.
A dual system, whereby some students in other countries took GCSE, AS and A level exams, but students’ grades in England were determined by teacher assessment, might give rise to concerns that there were 2 types of grades awarded – one based on a student’s performance in exams and one based on teacher assessment. “
Given this recognition, it is almost impossible to see jhow the position of Cambridge International and Pearson, who both currently plan on insisting students complete regular examinations, is any way sustainable.
Oxford AQA have already done the right thing and advised schools that traditional examinations will not proceed.
Cambridge and Pearson need now to stop the misery and do the same.
Why is it that the UK government, OFQUAL and the examination boards are so reluctant to trust schools and teachers?
At least with the examination boards, given the ridiculous hurdles they are piling on schools seeking refunds for examinations that cannot be taken, the obvious answer is that they are driven by revenue rather than the interests of those they serve, or should be serving. They claim that schools and parents want exams – but it increasingly looks like the only place you will actually find these schools and parents begging for exams is in their imagination.
Trying to work out what motivates Gavin Williamson is a fool’s game. No one is convinced that even he knows what he wants. What is widely recognised, as the one certainty in all this, is that he has never shown the least interest in listening to schools, parents and students.
Schools are demanding, rightly, flexibility. They want, as last year, to be given the right to do the right thing for their students.
Geoff Barton, ASCL’s general secretary, said:
“Students have suffered huge disruption because of coronavirus, and they have been affected to widely varying extents.
“That’s why it is vital that the way they are assessed this summer is as flexible as possible in order to ensure that they are tested on content they have covered rather than content they have missed.
“We understand that some people will argue that there should be a set of mandatory assessments because this will provide greater consistency.
“However, there is a danger of replicating the very problems that drove the decision to scrap exams in the first place, namely the fact that students who have suffered the most disruption may find themselves doubly disadvantaged by papers they cannot answer.”
Instead, the ASCL proposes, if these examinations are forced through, that:
“Schools and colleges should be encouraged to ask students to undertake these papers or questions under reasonably controlled conditions if possible, to increase their confidence that they represent a student’s own work.
However, they should not be treated as ‘mini exams’.
There should be no expectation that students come to these tasks unseen, or that all students sit them at the same time.
The use of these papers or questions should be encouraged, rather than mandated. ”
ASCL. January 2021.
All this leaves schools and parents in an utter mess.
International examination boards are at odds with each other.
No one has any trust in an OFQUAL consultation process that seems to have decided the outcome in advance.
Students are not only dealing with Covid 19, but also insecurity, disillusionment and frustration at a system that seems stacked against them.
The lame attempt to protect students and employers from the “evil” of grade inflation has done far worse in leaving the British educational system at the real risk of disrepute, appearing random, run by muppets, mean spirited and very brutally unfair.
And, finally, as usual, it seems the only people that really have anything sensible to say, the ones that know their students best – teachers, are being totally ignored, treated as halfwits and being forced to award results on the basis of rules that will hurt many if not all their students.
The whole sorry story is just another example of students and education being reduced to statistics rather than people. People are not, and have never been, numbers.
Will OFQUAL do the right thing? We shall all know in a few days. But we would not count on it.
© SchoolsCompared.com 2021. The above represent the opinion of the Editor. All rights reserved.
Notes for schools, students and parents:
(1) The original response of Simon Lebus in establishing the consultation can be found here.
(2) The post by Simon Lebus before the consultation had closed can be found in full here.
(3) Our view on examinations can be found here.