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GCSE Results: Have They Been Tampered? Goal Posts Moved? Or is it Just a Coincidence?

Posted: 23/08/2012 15:12

A spokesman from the Department for Education said, "It's right that minimum expectations of schools should continue to rise." In addition Michael Gove, the Education Secretary has said in the past that he wants to abolish GCSE's and introduce 'explicitly harder' O-Levels.

Tampering 1 - Coincidence 0.

Around 650,000 teenagers throughout Britain will have opened their GCSE results this morning. Usually some will be in shock, this year however, most may well be shocked. Results have fallen for the first time in 23 years! That is significant. Many teachers, especially English teachers have voiced their concerns that the exams were marked far too harshly leaving pupils a grade or so short of what they were predicted. Simply, the powers that be have significantly increased the grade boundaries.

Goal posts moving 1 - Coincidence 0.

The counter argument is of course that GCSE exams are easier, take a question from a Physical Education paper, 'which is not an invasion game? Football, Netball, Hockey, Tennis?' I teach P.E as well as Psychology, but that question is a bit ridiculous. That is more or less giving marks away. However, (I'm not sitting on the fence) P.E is regarded as a soft subject whereas Mathematics and English are not, so you wouldn't expect to see questions like that in 'academic' subjects.

For schools these results have serious consequences; some face closure, others takeover whilst others could be turned into academies. This seems harsh seeing as the government has, as the scores above show, augmented the grade boundaries. For the first time this year schools have been 'forced' to ensure that 40% of pupils gain five 'good' grades, including high grades in English and Mathematics. That is a big ask, up from 35% last year!

For teachers these results also have potential detrimental consequences; at best a change in the head of school and perhaps new management appointments but at worst searching for a new job. It's difficult; obviously teachers want to put faith in their Schools, their pupil's and the Government but with this drop, this shifting of the goal posts how can they? Let's not forget what Gove said back in July this year, "teachers are born, not made." That I'm afraid is what teachers are up against. In other words 'you failed this year, you will next.'
What do you think? As a teacher of 7 years I'm a bit angry, a bit confused really. Teachers seem to be working harder than ever. Working towards days like today, only to feel upset and unsure what the next step will be! Confidence is a huge thing; I personally don't have a lot in Gove.

For pupils getting their results today the first thing I would say is don't be disheartened. Why? Well firstly the boundaries have moved, yes and yes you're a grade shy of what you thought you would get, but so is the whole country! The boundaries go down for every single student. If you were on the B/C boundary and you received a C, so did the next person so don't worry. On paper is doesn't look fantastic, but schools and colleges will be a little more lenient this year, well they should be.
You will now need to focus on your A-Level choices following your GCSE results; you need to look forwards onto University and beyond.

I saw a great tweet today: "To the 640,000 sixteen-year-olds who have just had their GCSE results tampered with by Michael Gove: use your votes wisely in 2015."

I hope everyone achieved the grades they wanted today.

 

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