Category Archives: education

Daisy Cooper challenges the government on return of students to university

Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, Deputy Leader and spokesperson for education has just been challenging ministers in the Commons on the problem students have been experiencing during the pandemic. She said that students felt forgotten, that their mental health had deteriorated and government funds for students facing hardship should be doubled.

Also posted in News | Tagged and | 22 Comments

Exam Results and Gradings

Students and teachers are often disappointed with some or all of their grades, and this will always be so. Don’t let us be consoled by this and dismiss the anxiety over grades as a temporary, COVID driven problem requiring only an immediate, pragmatic solution.

I was for several years in the early 2000s, a senior A level examiner. I set papers, wrote mark schemes and participated in grade reviews before grades were published.

I participated in meetings that manipulated mark schemes after students had completed papers but before they were marked – also in the meetings which manipulated grade boundaries after marking. These manipulations had four aims:

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

Lib Dems demand new money to fund pay rise for teachers

Leading Liberal Democrats have written to the Chancellor calling for new, dedicated money from the Treasury to fund teachers’ future pay rises and are seeking cross-party support. 

The call comes amid fears that the Government will accept a pay rise for teachers, but won’t provide schools extra money to fund for it.

The Liberal Democrats MP argues that schools are “under huge financial pressures” and it is the responsibility of the Chancellor to “save them and their pupils from the inevitable consequences of a further erosion in the funding.”

The School Teachers Pay Review body has been looking into the issue of teachers pay and has made recommendations to the Government, which Education Ministers are due to respond to shortly.

The party’s Education Spokesperson Layla Moran has written to MPs seeking cross-party support for the campaign.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said: 

Also posted in News and Op-eds | 19 Comments

Student Contract with Their Universities

For at least some of the courses all but three English higher education institutions will charge tuition fees of £9,250. The average tuition fee at English higher education institutions will increase to £9,110 in 2017-18, up from £8,905 the year before (source: The World university ranking).

A leaked government document in 2016 revealed that our universities were not providing good quality teaching despite the increased fees. The leaked report goes on to say that even the Russel Group universities cannot justify the £9,000 fees for courses. A further disclosure suggests that the target of doubling the number of young people going to university will not be achieved. Open Democracy UK has calculated that the actual cost to teach an undergraduate for a year is about £4,500.

Also posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

Grammar School Selection – some absurd recent history

Theresa May’s party activist pleasing aim to create more grammar schools generated a lot of debate last week.

I thought I would share the absurdity of the Kent Test, which I sat to go to grammar school in 1991.  It is fair to say that Conservative-run Kent administered selection in a very odd way at that time.

In those days:

Your test could be given someone else’s mark

a) You took, at the start of Year 6, three tests.  But the marks you were given was usually not your own.  This was not an administration error but was intentional policy.

Primary Schools had to rank pupils in order of ability before the test.  This ranking was kept secret.  It was pre-FoI, pre-DPA and pupils and parents were never allowed to know where they were ranked or why. You then took the test.  The best mark scored by anyone in the school was assigned to the person the school had ranked top.  The second best mark to the next person and so on, even if the student had actually scored a different mark in the test.

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