On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

4th November 2011 at 00:00

This week: the DfE and its precious EBac

It is widely accepted that not being able to deal with criticism is a sign of immaturity. Grown ups, we're told, should face up to censure, confront it head on and have a positive discussion. This is the way progress is achieved, apparently.

On Tuesday, the Department for Education and its civil servants and ministers brazenly ignored this mantra, and as such they are this week's exiles to the naughty step.

Rarely in living memory has a governmental response to a select committee so barefacedly ignored its main points as this week's official rejoinder did.

Namely, it ignored, in order, the criticism that the new qualification was introduced retrospectively, that it would lead to too much focus on those students on the borderline of achieving it and that there was not enough international evidence supporting the idea that it would benefit disadvantaged pupils.

In essence, the parliamentary select committee produced a report roundly taking the EBac to task and the DfE's approach was simply, "if we close our eyes and ignore it, it will go away".

There are, many departmental mandarins will already know, any number of pedagogical approaches to dealing with this kind of attitude problem, but for the time being, the naughty step will have to do. Sit there and have a big old think about what you've just done.

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