This post comes with a warning. Parents will probably not agree with much, or indeed, all of what I have to say. Read on, don't read on, I really don't mind.
I rarely get the time to read a newspaper from cover to cover, but having been away with little to do and all day to do it in, I have had that pleasure. Unfortunately my paper reading coincided with the announcement of this year's GCSE results. This is usually a topic to get my blood pressure going in an upward direction; this year was no different, as the papers announced yet another year of increased pass rates and increased grades. How? So many youngsters that I have come across in my working life are incapable of using correct grammar, and I am convinced that were it not for Spell Checker, they would be using spelling that has only a very rough approximation to English. They change tense part way through a sentence, do not know when to use the singular and when the plural. It is often painful to read.
I am sorry, but GCSEs are NOT the same as O Levels were, they are set and marked in such a way as to allow more, if not most, to pass and pass well. How does that help future employers gauge which the best applicant is for a particular role. It does nothing for the child either, who will have spent their school life succeeding at everything, only to find that in the real world, they fail. Let me state here and now, there is nothing wrong with failing, as long as you learn from it. I know, I have failed often in my life, particularly whilst at school. In fact I was so good at failing at school that I had always assumed that I was not the brightest button in the box; I was right, I am not, but I am actually a lot brighter than I had thought while at school. Moving into the real world was wonderful for me, I suddenly started to succeed more often, not always, but certainly more often.
I should explain that I was a bright youngster and this meant that I was pushed into the higher class, meaning that I was always one of the youngest in my year and, once I hit 10 or 11, I started to struggle to keep up. For better or worse (and I hold that it was for better) I was allowed to remain in the higher year, but it did mean that I found school life quite tough.
In my later years I have excelled in my studies, most recently passing a Degree level Professional Course with Distinction. This is something that I never thought I would achieve, indeed, during the exam I was convinced I had failed!! How wrong.
So, why is this post headed 'Finally some sanity'? Yesterday there was an article in the Telegraph with the Headline - 'GCSEs: sloppy grammar will cost pupils one in 10 marks'. Finally markers are going to be allowed to deduct marks for bad grammar
GCSE exams in English and English literature, to be sat in 2012, will reserve at least 12 per cent of marks “for the use of a range of sentence structures for clarity, purpose and effect, with accurate punctuation and spelling”, said Ofqual
This will be followed with History and Geography in 2013, with Religious Studies possibly being included in 2013 also. The article suggests that bite sized modules, that pupils can resit until they get the grade they need, are also to be abolished; I had no idea they existed, but it certainly explains how we got to the position that we are now.
I appreciate that this Post may cause some to seethe, but trust me when I say I have been seething for some years now, it is someone else's turn. Roll on sanity, it will help us and it will help our children.