In today’s Independent on Sunday, Tim Hands, the leader of the HMC (which represents many public schools) warns of his ‘deep scepticism’ of letting politicians run education. He says the constant criticism of the exam system is ill-founded – it is basically doing its job. Only politicians, who need to demonstrate ‘ever higher standards’ will vex about these things.
He says that G.C.S.E.s and ‘A’ Levels are good tests – so long as you teach beyond the syllabus. In his school, one period in eight is spent teaching something not on the syllabus.
I have very mixed feelings about the private sector, but at least they still retain a more liberal view of education. Heaven forbid a state-school teacher being allowed to teach something that won’t directly translate to exam grades… except that in the bigger view, it will – and put back some autonomy and curiosity right where it’s needed in the process.
But you need a less dogmatic view of the purpose of exams in the first place to see that.