Could it be that Hogwarts’ exam system isn’t quite as wizard as we thought?

11th January 2019 at 00:00

Are you potty about the UK’s exam system? We’d bet our Nimbus 2000 that you’re probably not. And neither is your fellow muggle and FE teacher Andrew Otty.

This week, he asked: should our exam system be more like the one at Hogwarts? It’s not the first time that he’s used the wizarding world of Harry Potter as inspiration.

“In the past, when the topic of exam reform came up, I’ve wished that final assessments were more like the Triwizard Tournament, where nobody has a clue what the tests will involve,” he writes. But now that the GCSE system has now been reformed, and things have changed for the better, he’s found himself using that reference less and less.

The other problem with using the Triwizard Tournament as a reference (aside from the death-defying tasks that Harry and co have to complete) is that Potter cheats like hell throughout, said Otty.

“I wonder if this is a cultural issue for teachers; when we’re rooting for our hero to overcome, all our attention is on the ends and not the means. It’s OK for Harry to bend the rules a little to win a high-stakes competition he didn’t choose to enter. When some educators believe Ofsted and the Department for Education to be worse villains than Lord Voldemort, you can see how the same thinking might be applied.”

But as tempting as it is to focus on the negative aspects of our system (the tiered exams used against poor students need to disappear in a puff of smoke), we should make sure that we speak loudly about what’s already changed for the better, he added.

Perhaps then, we’d see that our exams system does beat the one at Hogwarts, after all.

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