25 August 2020
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: was the ‘triple lock’ a fair way of assigning grades or is it better to accept teacher-assessed results instead?
No process was ever going to be perfect. Therefore, the most important element to grading exams this year was to instil confidence in the process. Without this confidence, the results lose their inherent value. Few will be left satisfied after the government chose to first ignore teacher predicted grades, then release A-Level results and then in a U-turn, reinstate teacher grades. The Green Party believes that teachers must be trusted to plan their lessons and assess progress according to the needs of their pupils; teacher-assessed results were always the preferable solution.
The government’s muddled response has put immense psychological pressure on pupils, already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on their education. Imagine; five years working towards one exam, so much importance placed on it, and overnight … cancelled! Pupils were in a state of shock the following day. Results day was an opportunity to restore some confidence; to show our pupils we recognised the years of hard work and positive attitude to learning. Importantly, to acknowledge that these exams are not the be-all and end-all of life. As teachers, we are well aware of the capabilities of our students and we know that a single exam result does not reflect their true abilities.
Which leads to the BIG question; why have we not yet scrapped GCSEs? This national standardised test belongs to the time when everyone ended compulsory full-time education at sixteen. Now, the finishing age is eighteen. GCSE’s do not assess the skills that businesses say are lacking in the workforce or those needed to adapt to the climate emergency. The pressure on pupils to perform is creating a mental health crisis, and it is time to replace GCSEs and A-Levels with a new and broader fit for purpose national standardised test at eighteen.
Our response was written by Mark Slade. Mark is a secondary school mathematics teacher, NEU rep and the Cambridge Green Party's campaign manager.
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