English camel's got the hump

23rd April 2004 at 01:00
Despite the threat of strike action from the army of teacher assistants drafted into the department to satisfy the much-lauded workload agreement, the steadfast resistance of the examination boards to increasing the demands on an overloaded workforce and the howls of protest from the General Teaching Council, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority still insists that the administrative burden on English teachers required by this year's revision of the EnglishEnglish Literature GCSE is a reasonable one.

English teachers across the country have this year once again climbed the coursework mountain (in my school this involves the teaching, packaging and moderating of more than 1,200 coursework essays each year), performed the perennial miracle of cajoling, coercing and confronting the reluctant few while encouraging the more conscientious many, and survived another year of rigorous standardising - all for the sake of our pupils.

So what is so different this year? A masterstroke of central planning has meant that a new GCSE and a major revision to Sats were introduced to coincide with the relentless progress of the initiative rich "strategy" juggernaut.

Oh yes, and there are one or two changes to the administration of AQA GCSE coursework - a more time-consuming approach to the moderation of speaking and listening, a new-style inquisitorial pupil cover sheet, and the little matter of sub-dividing the writing mark (presumably so the QCA can root out those legions of trendy 1970s educated lefty teachers who reward creativity at the expense of grammar and clarity of expression).

In this lies an opportunity to register a puny, insignificant, little protest against those who are constantly lecturing us about working smarter not harder, while loading more and more bales of hay onto the camels'


Although the marks submitted to the board by my school will contain a mark out of 54 for writing, as it has always done, I will not insist that colleagues sub-divide this in their submission to the moderator.

This will not rock the foundations of the educational establishment or bring the QCA to its knees, but it will make this dromedary feel a little happier!

I wonder if any other English departments have got the hump this year?

Head of English Name and address supplied

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