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The dreaded question

There are pupils all over the country dreading questions of every sort. As a secondary English teacher, there is only one question I fear and hate in equal measure. What is the effect of this presentational device? How can exam boards expect pupils to respond to this question with any sort of sophistication? One recent example asked pupils to gain eight marks discussing the effects of a plain headline and standard caption. It makes me want to cry, not just because I can't answer it myself, but because thousands of otherwise intelligent pupils lose important marks in this cul-de-sac of an intellectual exercise.

Jamie Clayton, English teacher, London.

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