Students are not at risk of being promoted ‘beyond their competence’, but our government is

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Friday 14 August 2020 16:36 BST
Changes to how exams are decided are 'shambolic', says Keir Starmer

Whilst no one could have predicted the impact of Covid-19 on all aspects of our lives, we all could have predicted the incompetent, negligent and gravely biased response from this government in its approach to A-level results.

Not only do I take great offence at the fact that they don’t trust the judgment of teachers, the very people they were hypocritically clapping, but they’d rather trust an algorithm with an inherent bias towards privileged independent and grammar schools, which dismiss the sheer work ethic and hard work of pupils and teachers alike, based on the historical data and postcode of the school!

They claim schools must go back in September, no matter what, to assist disadvantaged children and avoid further gaps in learning, yet they wilfully disadvantage the very young people that will make up their future workforce by dismissing the grades they have rightfully earned.

This generation of young people has endured unprecedented circumstances due to Covid-19. On top of which comes downgraded results, without any credence given to teacher assessments or evidence.

Adding insult to injury, there isn’t even a consistent standardised appeal system in place yet to console the many teenagers so that they can seek the justice they deserve – a farcical response from Gavin Williamson, who actually had the nerve to publicly state that, if awarded their predicted grades, there is a danger “pupils will be over-promoted into jobs that are beyond their competence”. The very education secretary, as this situation has demonstrated, was definitely promoted beyond his own competence. Oh the irony!

This government will be responsible for the disillusionment, anger and limited opportunities of an entire generation who have already been robbed of the opportunity to prove their ability through A-level exams.

This government’s legacy will be one of creating disparities behind a charade of equality. Shame on a whole cabinet of people who were promoted above and beyond their competence.

Nisha Duus
Address supplied

Government make the grade

The controversy over exam grades in the UK is interesting as people call for teachers’ predictions to be used as the main judge of academic performance and exam grades.

Unfortunately, teachers have been proven to be poor predictors of exam results. A report by the University and College Union in December 2016 showed that only 16 per cent of actual exam grades were accurately predicted by teachers. Seventy-five per cent were over-predicted and just 9 per cent were under-predicted. This shows that the government is right to adjust grades accordingly.

Inevitably, there will be a minority of students who are unjustly affected and a free of charge and effective appeal system is the right way to go.

David Roxburgh

Silly little island theory

France and the Netherlands have been added to the quarantine list. We can’t even monitor incoming tourists and residents, which makes a complete nonsense of the quarantine measures, with little or no risk of being fined on return to the UK. More ridiculous “cloud thinking” by this incompetent government, and little or no benefit for our empty coffers.

We are indeed a silly little island that will disappear from view from 2021 when Brexit impacts on our lives.

Wendy Draper

Economic deja vu

News that the UK is officially in recession after a record 20.4 per cent decline in the three months to June is hardly surprising given the lengthy lockdown.

What is more surprising and less forgivable is that the country looks on course to repeat the experiences and mistakes that followed the banking crisis a decade ago where, as appears now, the country suffered one of the steepest and longest recessions amongst the world’s leading economies.

With enlightened Keynesian measures like the furlough scheme now being phased out by Rishi Sunak, just as the critical autumn spending months approach, any actions that choke off already severely weakened demand risks the deflationary mistakes of George Osborne’s infamous “austerity” budgets and threaten to plunge Britain into a prolonged, job-wrecking depression.

Paul Dolan

How do we keep our homes?

In just over a week, the ban on eviction proceedings ends. This is a disaster: councils are already pressing on with possession proceedings so imagine what the private sector is up to!

There will be a tsunami of evictions, with little or no support to fight back. Advice agencies have been underfunded for years. My advice is do what you can to protect your home, beg if you have to. Go to court and argue your case. Maximise income (billions go unclaimed every year) and lobby MPs and local councillors. That seems to be all we have left!

Unless you have better ideas?

Gary Martin

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