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Monday, 17 September 2012

Two-tier exams would end in tears

Reader(s) of this blog won't have missed tortured punning headlines such as the one above this piece, in the many days since last I blogged. Anyway, to business. Two-tier exams. I was in the last year that sat O-levels and CSEs (one of my exams was interrupted by a wireless broadcast in which Mr Chamberlain announced that this country was now at war with Germany). CSEs (of which I sat a few) were a complete fiasco. Although they may have been intended to be an exciting vocational alternative to O-levels for those less academic kids who were of a more practical bent, they were, in practice, sat by those pupils who were not good enough at a particular subject to sit an O-level in it (Geography being an example in my case - we learnt a lot about Glaciation, and I still don't know where that is).

I am very pleased, therefore that the Clegg-Gove English Bac does not involve a two-tier system. I support what is being proposed - well, I support anything that involves a joint article in the Standard by Nick Clegg and Michael Gove (

I note, incidentally, that today's Times was told by "a senior Lib Dem" that this Coalition exam plan "raises the bar but doesn't shut the door". I had never previously realised that the raising of a bar would, in and of itself, cause the shutting of a door. The Government's economy drive extends to the production of metaphors; it has been decreed that two metaphors must always be blended to produce one mixed metaphor, to avoid the wasteful cost of using two separate metaphors. The proof of the pudding lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

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