Open season for knocking exam success

29th August 1997 at 01:00
The silly season is with us again. Was I alone in hoping that a new government would bring an end to the summer-time attacks on the ability and achievement of the nation's youth?

Every August each cohort of our brightest and best has to suffer the slur and indignity of the damnable standards debate. Not only do the proponents of the falling standards argument demonstrate a sterility of thinking, bordering on ignorance, they also subject us to their supreme arrogance year after year.

Would it upset the nation's collective digestion too much to read headlines at breakfast time proclaiming the magnificent efforts and achievements of students and their teachers?

In common with the thousands of young people, who have attained such commendable results this year, I am heartily sick of those who see it as their mission in life to always find fault and to belittle the achievement of others. I am also tired of hearing the same old mantras from self-proclaimed employers' representatives, think-tank gurus and higher education spokespeople about young people's supposed inability to add up, to spell and to use correct punctuation. Perhaps this cant explains the annual "knocking session".

Steady improvements in pass rates in English and mathematics at GCSE and A-level plainly contradict the "knockers" claim, so presumably there can only be one explanation for them - our exams are getting easier.

There is another explanation. Those who malign young people so much are obviously jealous of them.

The arrogance of the advocates of falling standards never cease to amaze me. It would be to our lasting shame as a profession if we were not continually improving our teaching and extending learning and achievement opportunities for our young people. More importantly it would be extremely odd if our children were not brighter and better than we are. This is explained by a scientific concept accepted, I trust, by all at the dawn of the new millennium. It's called evolution.

ADRIENNE CARMICHAEL

Horseshoe Cottage Hallow Bank Kentmere Kendal Cumbria

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