Michael Gove and the Great GCSE Plot

I’m sorry you have to see this

I’m going to preface this article by saying that I think Michael Gove’s a cunt.  I don’t really use that word in real life or print but he’s driven me to it, because essentially he’s making us live in a weird dystopian nation, where he controls state education like some kind of EVEN MORE DEVIOUS Demon Headmaster. And here’s why.

GCSE results were out today – woohoo! Oh no wait we can’t celebrate *tears down my own brother’s banner and celebratory Nando’s* because Michael Gove has once again intentionally made this a massive fucking political issue. I’d appreciate adults/grown ups reading this because yet another year has passed in which everyone and anyone discusses education, but few actually comprehend the ins and outs of education in schools today.

I’m not going to defend the GCSE in itself – it’s not rigorous, is drawn from a limited syllabus and whilst 5 A*-C is a convenient benchmark it really shouldn’t be enough for our kids. BUT I’ll say that this is the game we’re currently playing. So Gove, don’t chuck a netball into the game for no reason in the middle of the football match. That’s fuckery.

So before we begin, what did Gove actually do? He’s essentially moved grade boundaries so C students were more likely to get Ds, lowering the 5A*-C percentages of schools, increasing the number of them that Gove can turn into academies. Fuckery.

So whilst Twitter was embroiled in yet another shitstorm this morning (I woke up and typed out ‘cuntery’ about 47 times) Gove was AWOL. He let this entire issue (and conspiracy for want of a better word, having struggled to get main news outlets to pick up the story) to unfold, and then finally decided to go through with an interview with the BBC (The only news source reporting the story, albeit with very very minor detail) circa 6.56pm.

What did he have to say? I urge you to watch the video to see outright lying in action. I’m just going to go through this interview and prove to you what a wanker he is. (Quotes are loosely correct but this is a BLOG not a newspaper so shove off if I miss out a conjunction. Oh and I put it all in a nice orange for you).

‘These exams were exams designed under the previous government’

The issue at hand is that you have changed the grade boundaries at the last moment e.g. today, when you are in power and have the right to do so. LIAR!

‘Individual success stories… people who have the right values, and have succeeded in rigorous academic subjects and we should support that’

Essentially Gove doesn’t care about vocational subjects despite pretending to, is putting down the people he believes ‘don’t have the right values’ and essentially, is perpetuating and encouraging the success of only the middle classes.

He then says something about people who have failed, and their stories, and how he feels for them, and he vaguely says he hopes they can pass in the future and go on to their chosen courses.

The face of a winner I’m sure you’ll agree

This is coming from a man who publicly speaks out against retakes so how he expects people to pass the exams, without retakes or by going back in time and passing first-time is beyond me.

These GCSEs are different from previous GCSEs in English and Maths in that it’s the first time these exams have been set in modules and units.

I took my GCSEs in 2009 and they were all in units, especially in English and Maths – I won’t even acknowledge this shit with more than a sentence.

The exam boards are responsible for allocating marks and deciding the pass rate – even though we had a new exam, there was a confidence that standards would be maintained from previous years.

Again, your bullshit spin is not working; the issue is the grades compared with previous exam series this year, not with merely the results of previous years.

For him to assert that the falls in A*-C grades, IN THE LARGER SCHEME OF THINGS is not dramatic, but has an enormous affect on individual lives of pupils, is arrogance and disregard beyond belief when he’s potentially fucked up these people’s lives.

Grade Boundaries may have moved eight marks, but this is made by exam boards and not politicians which is RIGHT, that they be free from political pressure. He says A*/A grades has fallen, B grades has increased, C grades has fallen, and D grades has increased.

This is coming from a man who is moving to have each subject taken by ONE EXAM BOARD because of grade differences, so obviously does not trust individual exam boards’ judgements, but does when it suits him.

Also, obviously if C grades falls, D grades will probably increase. Because this gives you the right, Gove, to bulldoze your way in to make yet another academy.

Is it too late to just get these guys in?

______________________________

From the TES Forums, which is a conversation amongst teachers and department heads themselves,  here is some proper information about whats going on:

  • AQA, one exam board specifically, has changed their grade boundaries from the winter series (exams taken in January) and summer (exams taken in June/July). Basically, the same work will be graded massively different depending on when the coursework element of the course was submitted. AQA is lying about this.
  • This also seems to be an issue for Edexcel’s (another exam board) students.
  • Essentially, whilst A*/A grades may have seen a minimal change, it’s the C grades which seem to be most likely to have fallen to D grades
  • EmmaBB says ‘in a rushed reply, I’ve looked at the Raw scores and on Foundation in Jan it was 43 for a C and now it’s 53. Out of 80 a whole ten marks more. Higher has gone up marginally as have Unit 2 & 3. So all in all my forecast of 88.8% is slashed to high 70s so t they’ve not moved the goal posts, they’ve put them on a different chuffing planet’
  • Spassky ‘Meanwhile Literature boundaries, especially for A and A* but also for f tier C grade, have dropped! Almost as if someone wanted evidence to support an agenda for more rigour in Literature’ and ‘The English Higher tier C grade boundary (affecting only brighter kids) was moved 70% less than Foundation tier. Gove is ghastly.’
  • The controlled assessment (essentially, coursework) element of the course has seen a 43 to a 46 increase for marks required for a Grade C. These are taken from the same task bank, so are THE EXACT SAME EXAMS, and can be done at any time during the course. This is further evidence to suggest a targeted attack at results out this week.
  • HarryTheBold: ‘If we used January grade boundaries, we would have received over 80%, as it is we achieved 63% – how is this acceptable?’
  • The move towards this seems a targeted attack on what Gove considers ‘failing schools’
  • JustineRob: ‘I haven’t seen many comments about OCR on here, but if you’re thinking of changing to them – don’t. They have also adjusted their boundaries to make it more difficult to achieve grade C. It’s ridiculous – if we had banked our Controlled Assessments in January, our pass rate would be 8% higher!’

Unfortunately, none of the mark schemes/examiners’ reports are available to look at for June 2012. You’ll have to make do with my (hopefully informed) ramblings, based on what we can all surmise from the information available now.

So what does it mean that more people are getting Ds when they should be on Cs? Essentially, it lowers any school’s  5 A*-C percentages, which now must be at 40% (up from 35% last summer), or else the ‘failing’ school can be turned into an academy. What Gove is doing once again disregards the pupils actually being educated at these places – would the upheaval and stress of this have a positive effect on the kids’ education? I don’t think so.

And how is he affecting teachers and students?

Students expecting a C, who are now on a D, do not have the ‘5 A*-C GCSEs inc. English and Maths’ that is the mainstay of any CV. I pray to God these kids will still be let onto the courses they were planning on. But for those going straight into work, in times of mass youth unemployment anyway, some of these kids are absolutely fucked. Cheers Gove.

And teachers? On the TES forums, teachers are firstly having to face furious and upset kids and parents, and also action from their Heads and Heads of Department for the slip in grades. Residuals will be awful, affecting jobs and reputations, especially if nothing actually happens as a result of the uproar, and we all just have to deal with these grades.

So what has this day taught us about Michael Gove?

  1. He’s a tosser
  2. Teachers are angry and here’s anecdotal proof of the kinds of kids Gove is letting down.
  3. The people he’s fucked over will be 19 in three years. So in 2015, the next general election, these people will be voting and I’m pretty sure they’d rather fuck a hedgehog than go Conservative. This kind of dissuasive action is called ‘Doing a Nick Clegg’ and was most recently seen in the tuition fee debacle. The number of retweets on this speaks for itself. 
  4. Michael Gove still looks like an evil duck/paedophile/Victorian toy [delete as appropriate].
  5. And most importantly, he’s still incompetent at his job, a bare-faced liar, and actually a danger to our kids. Politics isn’t, or should not be about, forcing your own major changes, like Academies, Free Schools or O-Levels, just to make your name go down in the history books. It should be the Secretary of State for Education’s job to do the best by our kids themselves. One of the best examples of this is the story that Academies now, aswell as Free Schools, can hire unqualified teaching staff. It seems that education isn’t Gove’s main driving force for change. It is himself.

Education shouldn’t be this difficult or contentious and it shouldn’t have gotten into the mess it is in now. But does anyone actually think Gove can get us out of it in a way that helps all children? No.  I won’t rest till a bloody revolution in which Gove is overthrown and we have David Attenborough, Rosemary from Ladette to Lady or my favourite old Head Mr Smith as head of Education. Voting will commence once all acts have performed.

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3 responses to “Michael Gove and the Great GCSE Plot

  1. I wholly disagree with you on two points.

    1) Grade boundaries are constantly changing – we do not know the extent to which they have been inflated over previous years. Gove is right to blame them as they ultimately chose to move them. Also AQA have been doing it for years, and with their dodgy marking.

    2) Whilst I think a modular system is better than linear, I am against the culture of retakes. I used it for AS, it was a life saver, but it did not prepare me for university, where your original mark remains on your transcript FOREVER. It’s a disservice to the children that life will always give them second chances.

  2. I love you jenjen BUT

    1)the grade boundaries, for THE SAME COURSEWORK, for Foundation English Lang, changed by 10 marks. That is off the scale and definitely shows meddling. Even if changing these schools into academies were a good thing (and I’m not convinced), it is not justifiable to mess up kids’ hard work and qualifications for that purpose

    2) I don’t really mind whether we allow retakes or not, but that’s not relevant to this moving of grade boundaries? If anything it’s a side point because Gove, who wants to disallow retakes, is suggesting that is the way for people to get over having failed/got a D.

  3. Listening to Michael Gove is the aural equivalent of having tepid dog phlegm poured into your ear.

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