The average household spends £83.60 a week on food. Ofqual reports fees for marking reviews as being £31 per GCSE unit and £45 for A level on average – double the original exam entry fee (bit.ly/OfqualChanges and “There’s no justice for schools in Ofqual’s reforms”, Editorial, 3 June). Most appeals are funded by families, some by schools. Consequently those on the lowest incomes at the most cash-strapped schools will be denied access.
This remains a fundamental injustice. It also ensures that marking errors for the most vulnerable go undetected and raises questions about the accuracy of government statistics. If we want a robust system for reviewing exams with equal access, fees need to be reduced.
Ryde, Isle of Wight
The mantra of “grade inflation”, which is now received wisdom on the principle of “What I tell you three times is true” (as espoused by the Bellman in The Hunting of the Snark), confuses statistics with standards (“How Ofqual grading can give inaccurate results”, 3 June).
It started with the move from broad descriptive grade criteria to tick-box objectives and has become a search for numbers to compare as the basis of grading: from subject to subject, from year to year, from cohort to cohort and, most desperate of all, against key stage 2 results. What we have now is this all too obviously unreliable numbers game. What has that got to do with standards?
Columnist for Teaching English, the journal of the National Association for the Teaching of English
Education is not a production line
Jonathan Simons couldn’t be more wrong about the need for “factory schooling” (Whispers from Westminster, 3 June). The reason why there is so much variation within schools is the overly prescribed curriculum and high-stakes testing regime.
As a supply teacher I have worked in many primary schools and see very little variation in content and delivery. But what I do see is a slavish adherence to Department for Education doctrine and diktat. I see teachers restricted in their practice every which way because they have targets to meet and Ofsted to please.
We need to set the profession free, not standardise it like a factory. I’m sorry, Mr Simons, but a child is not a product.
Academies’ gain is our loss
“How to expand your MAT beyond 10 schools” (Professional, 3 June) is quite amusing in parts. In particular, the line “scale allows a trust to offer the type of staff development that you simply don’t see in smaller trusts” merely highlights how much we have lost with the reduction in the number of schools under local authority control.
As head of maths and head of year in a small comprehensive before the academies era, I really appreciated the development that I was able to achieve by taking courses within the authority – both from exchanging ideas with staff in other schools and listening to outside speakers.
For business advice, go to the board
“Why a better head for business could lead to happier staff” (Professional, 3 June) asserts that teachers are alienated from leadership because heads don’t understand business. Surely this is where school governing bodies have a role?
The best businesses have a skilful board of directors keeping them on the right path. The same approach in schools is a good idea. Governors often have business experience and should be able to drive school improvement. However, boards also need parent representatives who are able to offer support and challenge plans based on this experience, rather than purely on statistics.
Jane Redfern Jones
Chair of governors, St Giles Primary School, Wrexham
The fallout of a chaotic system
The row over the council cutting school summer holidays in Barnsley speaks volumes about the chaotic policies in English schools. Heads claim that the decision will “lead to difficulties in recruitment and retention of really good staff”. This is in part because academies can ignore it.
The wider issue is how any system can operate effectively when there are schools cheek by jowl running in wholly different ways, yet all claiming to be educationally excellent.
Facebook users respond to a superhead being banned after awarding £1 million of IT contracts to his partner’s company
“Can’t ever recall incompetence and corruption on such a monumental scale when schools were in the care of local authorities.”
“This is just the tip of the iceberg with schools becoming academies. It’s no [longer] about educating students.”
“Of course it wouldn’t occur to these fat cats that this money should have been spent on children, support staff and teachers – the people who matter in education.”
And on the culture of misbehaviour that is eroding teacher’s dignity
“You risk being fined or imprisoned if you abuse a policeman or a transport worker – why can’t teachers be offered the same protection?”
“The problem is parents, not the teachers. Children are being brought up with no respect for anybody, even themselves.”
From the TES Community forums
Should non-religious views be taught in GCSE RE?
If religious views – such as creationism – are taught in science, then yes. If religious views are removed from science, then no.
My inconsequential view is that we shouldn’t label children re any religion or humanist view of the world but let them make their own choices. The worst comment I have heard from a child was this, “So which religion do I need to choose then?”
Religion is part of our society so it is essential children are educated about all religion, not just the one they subscribe to.
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