Education: Your Views

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The Independent Online
DR KERMODE sets out (Your Views, EDUCATION, 26 November) a number of objections to Professor Doyle's suggestion that degree classes should be replaced by ranked lists. He does not, however, address the problems which beset classified degrees.

An Upper Second can mean a near-First or a near-Lower Second, while a Lower Second can mean a near-Upper Second or a near-Third. The fact is that, although degree classes may sound nice and simple, and may be favoured by lazy employers who are not interested in detail, they really do not tell anyone very much and certainly do not tell much that is worth knowing.

As on the Continent, we should provide transcripts of examination and assessment results, together with a scale indicating that a mark between 60 and 69 is an Upper Second Class mark, etc.

Graduates would be put in possession of a detailed account of their performance in the various components of their degree programme.

Potential employers would have a far more useful basis on which to judge applicants' suitability. And academics could finally be rid of Britain's odious class system.

HENRY ETTINGHAUSEN

University of Southampton

DR KERMODE asks would I issue a revised list of results if there had been miscalculations by examiners? Of course I would. The worst of all arguments for retaining classes would be that they permit examiners to conceal their own errors and injustices.

WILLIAM DOYLE

Professor of History

Bristol University

Keep equality of opportunity

THE ARTICLE "Take away Girls, and boys do better" (EDUCATION, November 26) demonstrates once again the folly of an educational system that is purely results orientated. I think it is rather obvious that separating boys and girls at school increases academic performance, for the very reasons of the peacock effect and macho behaviour that the article highlights.

The logical conclusion of this thinking would be - for the sake of efficiency - to have single sex companies! Is this the sort of world we want, or do we want to see boys and girls brought up believing that men and women are equals who are quite capable of working and learning together?

PETER VAN DER SPOEL

University of Warwick

Advantages of information

IN MY article "Deprived Areas Are Still at a Disadvantage" (League Tables supplement, Tuesday 1 December) two important points were deleted. Although acknowledging that many of the positive developments in local education authorities and schools' use of information may well have occurred without the advent of league tables, I argued that "the publication of results probably acted as a catalyst for change, ensuring a stronger focus on academic standards in some schools".

My evaluation of the last six years' experience also recognised some of the positive developments instituted by the current government, and concluded: "Growing recognition of the impact of a school's intake, and the need to focus on the progress of individual pupils, combined with the summer's decision to drop the naming and shaming policy, suggest significant advances in official thinking. The opportunity to further develop value- added measures building on the Secretary of State's commitment to using individual pupil-based progress measures, and the experience of the DfEE's 200-school pilot, should be seized. The publication of better value-added and contextualised information about pupil progress is a good starting point - but we would do well to remember that there is much more to school improvement than measurement. Working with the profession and supporting those schools facing the greatest challenges are vital ingredients."

DR PAM SAMMONS

Reader in Education

Institute of Education

Please send your letters to Wendy Berliner, Editor, EDUCATION, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. Letters may be edited. Include a day time telephone number.

Fax letters to 0171 293 2451;

e-mail to educ@independent.co.uk

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