Thursday, December 3, 2020
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Fake grades and the betrayal of our teenagers

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SOME MPs are beginning to wake up to the likely consequences of using teacher predictions and a statistical ‘hokey cokey’ game to conjure up this year’s GCSE and A-level exam grades. The Commons education select committee has worked out that the exam result appeal system is likely to be unfair. In a report just published, the MPs suggest that the process will be akin to the ‘Wild West’. Pushy, middle-class parents who know how to play the system will be the main beneficiaries. Who would have thought that?

I pointed out in a previous blog that according to a London University report the accuracy rate for teacher-predicted grades is 16 per cent, and that 75 per cent of teacher predictions are too generous.

This summer’s predicted exam grades will, by definition, be fake. The deception that the grades will be trustworthy being perpetrated by the examinations watchdog Ofqual is unacceptable. The government now finds itself caught up in an unedifying row about the fairness of its appeals system. Ofqual’s concession of setting up a helpline is likely to be yet more window-dressing.

And this is just the start. Ofqual and the government should have heeded Walter Scott’s wise advice: ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!’

The situation is pitiful. Our 15-18-year-olds are being deceived and the best that the prime minister can come up with is a virtual address to pupils calling on them to seize every opportunity that comes their way and ‘rugby tackle’ it to the floor. He has predicted that this year’s school leavers will be one of the most ‘influential generations in the peacetime history of our nation’. 

For how much longer are we to be expected to put up with this deceit? When young people are being betrayed, they deserve more than the emptiest of empty rhetoric. 

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Chris McGovernhttp://www.cre.org.uk
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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