For the first time in 27 years, I have no personal stake in the GCSE results that are released this morning. I did not teach Year 11 last year, so I will not be poring over statistics to explain the performance of my class to my superiors in school.
Sadly, statistics, ‘value added data’ and performance metrics too often eclipse what today should be all about: young people who, perhaps for the first time in their education, were left in an exam hall with a sheet of questions and a ticking clock.
As teachers we can do so much, but when those students go into that room, they are on their own. The results they receive today do not belong to their teachers, and certainly not the government, so let’s just say well done to one and all. And anyone who feels fit to moan about the standard of exams could maybe put their money where their mouth is and sit a few themselves next year. Grade 9 – the highest award on the current scale – is easier to criticise than it is to earn.
Earlier this week, reports suggested that there will be rather fewer of those top grades this year, and that is probably a good thing. Teacher predictions replaced exams in 2020 and 2021. Like many of my colleagues, I filled in the mark sheets, and supplied reams of supporting evidence. I don’t expect anyone actually looked through my paperwork, but I can say that all of my teacher assessed grades were a fair reflection of what each pupil could achieve as long as nothing went wrong. One factor I did not include was the propensity of pupils to mess up an exam paper.