|A typical schoolgirl awaits her GCSE results.|
(Picture courtesy of the Daily Telegraph)
The teaching profession has gone into hysterics about so-called 'grade fixing' in this year's GCSE results. British readers will be familiar with the annual farce of semi-literate teenagers celebrating ever-improving exam results. Everybody knows that GCSEs, like A-Levels, have been systematically dumbed-down for political reasons and only the teaching unions seriously suggest otherwise. Last week—for the first time in 24 years (which is to say, ever since GCSEs were created)—records failed to be broken.
The teachers' response has been absolutely mind-boggling. Without a hint of irony, they have suggested that the rigour of examinations has been altered for political ends. They seem to genuinely believe that each new batch of pupils has a legal right to be awarded better exam results than any generation in history and they are prepared to sue the government on the basis of equality legislation.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) says it may take legal action against exam boards over grading reforms which appear to have denied thousands a C grade in the core exam.
Malcolm Trobe, of the ASCL, which represents most secondary head teachers, said it was currently gathering information on the situation at schools where there were large numbers of pupils on the boundary between a C and D grade.
"We're examining whether this is hitting any particular groups of young people that are covered by the equal opportunities legislation," he said.
"We are not afraid of taking legal action if that is the appropriate step."
Words fail me.
A statement on the Leeds City Council website by Councillor Judith Blake said: "We do not feel this basic principle of fairness has been adhered to in this case and will be looking with colleagues nationally at the possibility of raising a legal challenge to ensure Ofqual and the government put this right."
Labour called for the Commons education select committee to conduct an official inquiry into the affair and the Welsh Assembly Government launched its own probe.
Good God almighty. Let's look at the facts for a second. The graph below shows the last ten years of GCSE results. Since 2003, the number of A-C grades (de facto passes in an age in which no one is allowed to fail) has risen from 58.1% to 69.4%. The proportion of As and A*s rose from 17.4% to 22.4%.
The alleged scandal of tougher marking led to the class of 2012 doing very slightly worse than the class of 2011, but there were still more A-Cs dished out than in any year prior to 2011 and more As and A*s awarded than in any year prior to 2010.
So, if this year's pupils have a legal right to have their exam results upgraded on the basis of "fairness" and "equality", it seems to me that everybody who took GCSEs between 1988 and 2009 should also raise a "legal challenge". I passed mine in 1992 and I demand an enquiry.