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Let's see a mark of fairness

Will this year's cohort of GCSE technology pupils be treated fairly by the examination system? I cannot believe that I am alone in recoiling from the prospect that a significant number of pupils might achieve lower grades this year than they might have done in the examinations before the arrival of the national curriculum.

Teachers have struggled and, I suspect, mostly failed adequately to deliver or cover over-ambitious and often vaguely-worded syllabuses.

For many pupils in the lower to middle ability range, the attempt to complete two coursework projects in such a way as to meet national curriculum criteria has either been a sterile or totally overwhelming exercise. It is no comfort to the pupils concerned to know that technology has now been revised or that many schools will have taken up the option of reverting to the old syllabuses.

Assuming that they have understood and managed to apply the official coursework-marking criteria, teachers are surely faced by depressingly low total mark tallies for many pupils.

No amount of sotto voce encouragement by exam board officials at training days will have made it easy to give pupils the marks "they would have obtained in former years" when their teachers know that the work in front of them is of lesser quality.

It is fruitless now to argue whose fault all this is. However, it is in the interest of all concerned - particularly perhaps the Government - that the system should be fair at least to the candidates.

If we are relieved in August to find that the figures have been manipulated so that this year's results are quite as good as last year's, then so be it.

JOHN ELTON-WALL 18 Raynes Road Lee-on-Solent Hampshire

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