A Teacher's view of the exam chaos

Photo of young people protestingI could talk about the damage austerity had done to schools, and the way in which Covid-19 highlighted the wider role a school plays in the community, as we have witnessed through the campaign of Marcus Rashford.  I could write about the need to have a strong education system in order to allow people to work, or the social aspect of schools that many of our children and young adults have so desperately missed. I could focus on the botched attempts to get pupils back into school, when double the amount of classrooms and teachers would have been needed, but what I would like to focus on is the exams.

I must at this point say I am a teacher with a number of years’ experience. I also have two young adults who were waiting on results for exams they never took. It was never going to be easy to replace exams, but the announcement of the cancellation of exams was made not long after we had shut our doors. The date for exam results had been published long before this point and so it should have come as no surprise to the Government, yet on the 13 August 2020 students from areas such as ours received results which were not reflective of their hard work but reflective of the areas in which they lived.

SPhoto of teacher comforting a childo what did the Govt do about these problems, nothing. They knew they were going to happen, they knew of the disadvantage to poorer students, they knew the political fallout this could cause having seen similar results in Scotland and yet they sat on their hands. 18-year-olds around the country were made to feel like they did not count, were not important. The exam bell curve was to be protected at the cost of mental health and well-being. Only following major campaigns by our young people did the Government change its mind. As a teacher, I lost sleep worrying about the students I had taught, had I inflated my grades would they have come out with what they really deserved? I watched my own children go through the horror of opening results that had not been awarded for their work and endeavour but because of a computer algorithm that took more account of their postcode than anything else. I have watched, listened and tried to council students who felt like the world had ended and there was nothing to go on for. During this time where has our PM been, because he has not been visible, he has not come forward to offer an apology or explanation. I can only hope that in 2024 the young people of today will vote for a party who works hard to promote equality and fairness and finally rid the country of a sycophantic government who never take responsibility and I to stand alongside Layla Moran and call for the resignation of the Education Secretary, Mr Gavin Williamson, whose efforts are not even worthy of a U grade that many students were awarded through no fault of their own.

We are yet to witness the fall impact of this scandal as it moves from the front pages into Universities which now have to pick up the pieces for this incompetence.

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