But Labour critics have little to crow about


The Labour party and Stephen Twigg in particular have criticised the Government over the examination system and sought to make political capital out of the Daily Telegraphs recent expose suggesting that some examiners were not sticking by the rules and giving too much assistance to teachers while suggesting exams were easy.  However  Warwick Mansell, education journalist at the Guardian and author of ‘Education by Numbers: the Tyranny of Testing’, reported similar malpractice back in 2009 during the Labour administration.“This is the third time it’s come out now,”  Mansell told FE Week recently . “So I’m not surprised it’s still happening to be honest with you, these things get exposed, but it’s a question of whether anyone is actually doing anything.”  Mansell added: “I haven’t picked up on the fact that really anything much has changed.”

It is common knowledge that some exam boards are perceived as easier than others. It is also known that there is a cottage industry in  which examiners supply teachers, who are willing, that is,  to pay a fee, heavy hints on how to get the best grades for their pupils more often than not by  providing formulaic answers to questions or heavy hints on what might appear in exam papers. Creative and lateral thinking or what Professor Ken Robinson has described as ‘divergent thinking’  is not encouraged.   It is all a bit of a mess and needs urgent attention. But finding a solution remains    a significant   and pressing challenge and knee jerk responses, such as calling for a single exam body, will probably create more problems than it solves.


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