The mess made by the Government over A-Level grades, and its effect on the future prospects of many students from less well-off backgrounds, continues amid the realisation that GCSE results are on the way, and could mean yet another row breaking out. Over at the Daily Mail, one pundit did not hold back in her criticism of the situation.
Cue Vaughan Williams' Sixth Symphony
Summing up what was to come, the headline told readers “A generation hung out to dry: SARAH VINE says the chaos and incompetence over this week's A-level results is the final betrayal of disadvantaged children hit hardest by lockdown”. Ms Vine had been talking to other parents about the results fiasco. It did not make for comfortable reading.
“The feelings of so many were summed up by one distraught friend. Her eldest child was predicted all As but the grades she was awarded fell well short. As she so poignantly put it: ‘Our kids’ futures have been downgraded. First they had their exams taken away, then their final months of school - the central focus of their lives for the past 14 years - and now they are being punished by an algorithm. It’s just so cruel.’” There was more.
“It s the bright, hard-working youngsters in historically underperforming schools who have been penalised, while average performers in high-flying schools have had the unfair advantage … The result … is a situation where better-off, privately educated schoolchildren have fared significantly better (an unprecedented increase in As and A*s of almost 5 per cent) than those in the state sector”. Her conclusion is damning.
“Which means those with the poorest life chances - for whom school is often their only real hope of a better future - have been most adversely affected. So the overall picture that we have ended up with is one of chaos and, dare I say it, incompetence, not only practically but also politically. Put bluntly, parents and pupils may not forgive a Conservative government that, in their eyes, has hung them out to dry”. OUCH!
Ms Vine’s two children have, of course, unlike many offspring of press columnists and Tory ministers, attended state schools. And talking of Tory ministers, her husband Michael “Oiky” Gove had something to say about the results fiasco. Gove says it wasn’t.
And to underscore his unswerving support for the Government, he told “Misleading A level claims debunked - Education in the media”, referring his followers to yet another partisan abuse of Government resources, a blog using the DfE’s website which is effectively indulging in pro-Tory spin to cover for the mess made by Gove’s cabinet colleagues.
The spin includes the claim that 39% of students did not really have their grades downgraded, but that these were merely “standardised” to make the process “fair”. This is total crap: the process described ended up downgrading the grades. Spinning it with the application of a few long words is not going to cut the mustard.
Nor, one suspects, will it cut the ice at the Gove dinner table. I’ll just leave that one there.
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