Who's lowering the standard?

31st August 2001 at 01:00
WE have Chris Woodhead's word for it: A-levels have become easier, because ever more students are passing them. It cannot possibly be that the teachers he used to berate are actually doing their job better - so we are left with a conspiracy theory. It holds, one imagines, that the examining boards, riddled as they are with wild-eyed, bearded Marxist subversives, are diluting the rigour of each summer's exam questions until almost anyone can pass them by reading a few books, attending an occasional lesson.

The whole idea is tosh, of course. If the people who set exam questions are "lowering standards" they have to do it across the board in order not to blow their cover. Who smuggles them past the serious, experienced academics who contribute to drawing up each year's new exam papers? How do they get away with it, year after year, under the all-seeing eye of the chief inspector?

The really important question is, of course, why did a supposedly progressive, forward-looking Government suffer its education policy to be to be run by a person who cannot recognise an untenable proposition when he utters it?

CR Shute Press liaison, Education Now 7 Kiln Way, Polesworth, Staffordshire

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