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Dumbing down does learning no favours

In a recent GCSE chemistry exam, I saw a question in the form of a very short acrostic puzzle with the answer to the down clue already printed. One of the across clues was as follows: "A charged particle" - with the answer to fit into three letters: "I _ _"

I think many of us will agree that very little, if any, depth of understanding about ions is needed to answer this question by students following the GCSE course. Since this was the higher paper, I wonder if the foundation candidates had the delights of a wordsearch in their exam paper.

The dumbing down of papers "helps" the annual statistics and league tables and accommodates the absurd notion that "students must not be allowed to fail".

So it's all for good measure then?

Mrs R Trainor, Coventry.

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