MPs fail to make the grade in response to exam shambles

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From John Senior, Skelmanthorpe.

THE GCSE fiasco would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic for a considerable number of young people. Having watched the Education Select Committee interview the head of Ofqual, I came to the conclusion that the methodology for deciding grade boundaries was on a par with the pseudo-science behind the financial derivatives that wrought such havoc with the world’s banking systems.

It would appear that a chief examiner is unable to decide upon a grade by seeing a candidate’s scripts. It would, it seems, be necessary to have thousands of scripts to compare and even then account must be taken of Key Stage 2 results. If it is Key Stage 2 results that determine the C/D grade boundary, it suggests that any hope for a cohort to improve its grade by hard work and dedicated teaching between Key Stage 2 and GCSE is futile.

Maybe I have been misled, but I find it difficult to understand how schools can be expected to increase the percentage of pupils with five good GCSEs when the Secretary of State infers that he wishes the examination boards to reduce the percentage of pupils reaching grade C.

It says something of the calibre of our MPs when the chairman of the Select Committee confessed that he was unaware that in some subjects it was possible to take a foundation paper for which the maximum grade obtainable was a C.

The head of Ofqual stated that the Secretary of State had had no involvement in the process that led to the re-grading of the results. He didn’t have to; even I knew that he wanted it made more difficult to obtain a grade C.

From: Peter Asquith-Cowen, First Lane, Anlaby, East Yorkshire.

JAYNE Dowle was correct in her assessment of Ofqual (Yorkshire Post, September 13). It was wrong and unfair to move the goalposts at the last minute, throwing a “spanner into the system” and leading to the present chaotic situation with the lives and futures of young people thrown into jeopardy.

I would like to know who ordered this re-grading two weeks before the results were published? What were their motives? Why, specifically, was it English that was targeted? Indeed, how can Ministers wring their hands over the growing numbers of Neets and then wash their hands of a situation which effectively scuppers the life chances of those they purport to support?

I will go further; just as we have seen with the Hillsborough cover-up, there seems to have developed a “culture of subterfuge” in all aspects of government from South Yorkshire Police to Edexcel.

Was this a sinister, deliberate plot to further undermine failing state schools, forcing them to become academies and taking them out of local government control? Maybe this is why Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has rebounded so vociferously against his Welsh counterpart, Leighton Andrews, a Labour politician who wants a re-grading of GCSE English results in Wales?

This would be in line with current coalition educational policy, which I think is blinkered. It is a superb example of the obsession with back-door privatisation of the education service.

From: George McManus, Whins Lane, Long Riston.

my local MP Graham Stuart, who is also Chair of the Education Select Committee, recently wrote that my “bile was matched only by my hypocrisy” because I criticised Tory education policy. His tirade is severely misplaced.

I don’t criticise anyone for decisions made by their parents. I doubt that Graham or David Cameron had any influence when it came to their parents choosing to send them to public schools. Indeed, neither I nor Ed Miliband had much say in our parents choosing to send us to comprehensives.

My concern is that they fail to understand the needs of the British people because they are products of an ideology which is anathema in an essentially liberal country. The Tories were embarrassed by the opening ceremony at the Olympics.

They don’t understand why, when it went so well, George Osborne was booed. They simply don’t get it because for too long their mantra has been that “Broken Britain” was a reality which needed fixing. The Olympics proved them to be wrong. Having messed up with the recent exam fiasco, they now intend to dump GCSEs in their desire to turn the clock back to the Victorian era.

While liberal-thinking people are motivated by communitarianism, our Tory leaders are motivated by greed. My motivation is neither envy nor double standards but fear that our great country and its values are being sacrificed on the altar of that greed.