Monday August 17th.
So, the furore over the A level results continues. It does make you wonder if Gavin Willamson is the new Chris Grayling. There’s an article here from the International Baccalaureate Organisation explaining how they are adapting their appeals procedures to ensure fairness and transparency for all of their students, spread around the world. Of course, the keys to the IBO awarding algorithm are the coursework components which, for most students, will have been submitted before lockdown started or in the weeks immediately afterwards and the teacher formal predicted grade. Having coursework as an essential component of every course in the Diploma Programme is a decision the IBO have stood by in the 20+ I have had an involvement with them. Their rationale is that properly structured coursework enables young people to be challenged to undertake much deeper learning and more detailed application of that learning than you get from an exams only system. It also improves accessibility across the range of students. Those who work better over long perionds of time can thrive on the coursework aspects, those who work better with simplistic memory-recall of formal exams can look forward to the terminal tests and, to achieve the very top marks, young people need to excel in both areas. This provides much better preparation for higher education and future life than being judged solely on a series of exams at the end of 2 years. The increased emphasis on the 2 year course then test and the removal of coursework is the result of the changes brought in by Gove in his disastrous tyenure as English Education Secretary. If the AS level had remained and the coursework had remained then the awarding of the final grades this year could have been moderated against the indivisual stuents actual work. Regarding Teacher Preductions, the IBO collects this data every year and feeds back to school how accurate their predictions are. The Predicted Grades are being school-contextualised which, in the IBOs case, is not simply looking at past performance of the school and moderating to keep it in line with historic grades but has looked at the accuracy of PGs in the past and used this as a contextual mnoderation. This means the varying performance of cohort to cohort and child to child is accounted for, any grade adjustment is based on how well the school has managed to predict grades in the past. This is much fairer and transparent. It’s not necessarily a failing of a school or teacher that PGs may be inaccurate, there are many factors (experience of the teacher within the system, the point in the 7 year development cycle of the subject, how long the school has been an IB school etc) but if there is consistency in their PGs, which there tends to be, then moderation can be done fairly. Of course, the IBO is an educational body that a) believes education should be broad, balanced accessible and preparatory for future life and b) trusts the schools, and teachers within those schools, as professionals. The last 10 years of Conservative governance has seen education reduced to the quantitavely measurable to the detriment of the qualitative and has also seen consistent attacks on the professionalism of the teaching profession. It is disastrous for the poor young people who are suffering because of this grading fiasco but it is a disaster caused by ideological decisions taken by consecutive Conservative goverments since 2010. Anyway, here’s the article – it is so much more supportive and organised than the Ofqual response and subsequent withdrawal of the appeals process after less than a day.
At least backbench Tory MPs seem to realise there’s a problem even if those in government are hiding their heads in the sand.
It was only a matter of time. Monday, 4pm and the latest U turn from the government who are flip flopping all over on pretty much every issue because they’re too sure of their own ability so they’re not reading the public mood or properly listening to the experts.
It was inevitable that rather than take responsibility, Williamson would lay the blame on Ofqual. There’s a great quote in this article. Apparently Williamson only became aware the scale of the problem on Saturday and Sunday. What was he doing all day Thursday and Friday, as Education Secretary on the days after the results were issued. Yet more incompetence and inability to rise to the challenge of the job!