Chalk Talk: Paperless exams: why we won't be holding our breath
Thursday 14 July 2011
There was a whiff of revolution in the air when Isabel Nesbit delivered her parting shot as chief executive of Ofqual, the exams regulator. The day of the paperless exam was heralded, with a massive move towards online sitting and marking of exams in the future.
Now it looks as though her successor, Glenys Stacey, appears to be adopting a far more cautious approach. Speaking at a seminar in London, she warned that spending on IT was not always a protected area of a school's budget. "My interests are in a level playing field," she said.
In other words, if a school has faulty computers, its pupils might be at a disadvantage to the well-heeled private school down the road as they frantically try to get the computer to work.
Her concerns were echoed by Jack Lewars, representing the English School Students' Association – ie, those who actually sit the exams. He was worried that – in the minds of many people – IT was inextricably linked with sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. As a result, the use of IT in exams would be seen as a "dumbing down" of academic standards in comparison with the hand-crafted essay.
For whatever reason, then, any change is likely to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Good news from a poll of six to 15-year-olds on what they want to be when they grow up: the most popular job is teaching – chosen by 31 per cent. Only a couple of years ago, it was reported that most of them aspired to be "celebrities" when they grew up. Only four per cent this time wanted to be reality TV stars.
Come to think of it, there are so many reality TV shows nowadays that it might be a realistic ambition for such a small number!
Interesting footnote: more youngsters wanted to be lorry drivers (three per cent) than bankers (two per cent).
The poll was carried out to coincide with a new film, That's What I Am, which features a 1960s teacher as its inspirational hero. But don't tell Sir Chris Woodhead, Michael Gove and assorted other traditionalists from the world of education that.
Interesting to note that almost half of all proposals to set up new free schools come from state school teachers, according to research published at the weekend. Apparently most of them plan to become the headteacher of their new school. I doubt whether Education Secretary Michael Gove ever saw his flagship scheme as a route to the top job for teachers.
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