This summer’s debate has exposed tensions between two key claims

Pupils sit their GCSE exams

Pupils sit their GCSE exams

First published in Letters

Writing as an early-taking, resit-improved student of English language O-Level, I sympathise with certain schools’ reluctance to publish anything other than final grades achieved by young people who may have had two or more bites at the maths and English cherries in their GCSE exams.

Two key points may be borne in mind: exam results ‘belong to’ the young person who has earned them and, consequently, they should stand as a mark of that person’s final achievement in any particular subject; and schools need a common system of comparison if meaningful conclusions are to be drawn about which are the ‘better’ schools, and which ‘worse’. This summer’s debate exposes the tensions between these two claims.

With school or training now continuing until 18, and with an expectation that maths and English should continue supported through these years for students yet to reach their full potential, then the notion of continuing improvement is built in, and any artificial horizon at 16 is just that – an arbitrary staging post erected outwith the individual interests of each of the young people concerned.

In healthcare, if drinking plenty of barley water fails, then a course of antibiotics might be prescribed; in law, if a case seems to have been decided contrarily, then an appeal may be launched.

In each case, the profession operates in a framework allowing repeat and improving interventions, to the benefit of the patient or appellant.

If schools don’t like their common system or framework, let them negotiate a better one. Doctors and lawyers appear less buffeted than headteachers.

James Dasaolu might never run as fast as Usain Bolt, but we don’t want to discourage him from trying. We keep a common system of comparison (a good watch and 100m), and let them go again and again.

Peter Martin, Church Close, Bampton

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11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

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Today’s letters

Campaign is in danger of losing its credibility

Oxford Mail: Nurse got me through some difficult times

11:00am Thursday 18th December 2014

If the University of Oxford were to bombard me with as many leaflets as the “Save Port Meadow Campaign” has, there would be an outcry in your columns.

Noise pollution has had a much bigger impact

Oxford Mail: Nurse got me through some difficult times

11:00am Thursday 18th December 2014

If the “Save Port Meadow” campaigners are really concerned about environmental impact, then they should now campaign vigorously to divert the A34. The continuous noise pollution from this road has a far bigger impact on the environment of the meadow,than the occasional view of the Castle Mill flats.

Councillors should hang their heads in shame

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Thursday 18th December 2014

“We are all in this together” is David Cameron’s clarion call. All except it appears our county councillors. Those who voted for the draconian cuts to save money and then voted to put up their own expenses should hang their greedy heads in shame.

Holiday home reasoning left me flabbergasted

Oxford Mail: Nurse got me through some difficult times

11:00am Thursday 18th December 2014

Oxford Land Investments should get a prize for their reason for proposing holiday houses on the Green Belt south of Cothill Pit nature reserve. They say they want to give people “not lucky enough to live in Oxford’s Green Belt a chance to visit it”. But why only 14 houses? Such a beautiful wildlife haven should have hundreds of houses. Otherwise people can only experience it by walking through it.

No opportunity to ask any other questions

Oxford Mail: Nurse got me through some difficult times

11:00am Thursday 18th December 2014

On December 10 I and two other Botley residents drove to Wantage to attend the Vale’s full council meeting, expecting to hear what was on the agenda: 15 questions asked by various councillors, three of which related to Botley and the planning committee’s refusal of Doric’s plans for West Way.



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