Letter: Schools under fire

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Sir: The knee-jerk season is upon us. The GCSE results are out and up pop the armchair experts lecturing us about the failings of our educational system and in particular the GCSE examination.

Last year the problem was that too many pupils were passing. We can't have that now can we? Let us go back to the glorious GCE days when most pupils were labelled failures.

So what is the problem this year? Ah, this year too many pupils are failing (an increase from 1.5 to 2.3 per cent of pupils receiving no grade).

The fact that schools are judged solely by the number of higher grade passes (A to C) is deemed to be the reason for this and it is certainly an overwhelming factor. Undoubtedly, schools have learned to concentrate their resources in areas that will offer the best return in terms of league table performance, and who can blame them?

So what do the experts suggest? Well, it's obvious isn't it? What we need is a points system where every grade is rewarded (eight points for A* down to one for G). That way every pupil becomes a valuable asset. To some politicians this seems like a very attractive idea. However, as a teacher who works in the classroom, I see a different picture. The focus will simply be shifted away from the more able pupils towards those of lower ability.

The reason is that the amount of additional input required to change, say, a grade A into an A* is much greater than turning a G into an F. Yet both would secure the same improvement - one extra point. Guess where schools will try to find those extra points to improve performance.



Tyne and Wear