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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12:11pm Friday 24th April 2015
I notice six plane trees in Castle Street have been deprived of their branches, ready for the Westgate Centre improvements.
12:11pm Friday 24th April 2015
Iit is good to see a picture of the four nominees for the 2015 Regional Press Awards in Wednesday’s Oxford Mail. You have a long history of extraordinarily good photographers at the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times.
12:09pm Friday 24th April 2015
Pointing out that, on the day marking the 70th anniversary of the relief of Buchenwald death camp, 400 people fleeing from religious and political persecution were drowned when a boat capsized in the Mediterranean, Peter Unsworth asks whether anyone can tell him what we have learned during the intervening period (Cabbages and Kings, April 17).
12:08pm Friday 24th April 2015
Recent events in the media highlight two problems of public interest:
12:07pm Friday 24th April 2015
The designs for the unfolding Westgate development are beginning to seem completely soulless compared with the spiritually inspired and timelessly beautiful mediaeval Oxford buildings...