Tag Archives: downgrade

GCSE results: Were exams traditionally DOWNgraded for non-private/grammar school pupils?

Exams: they didn’t happen this year or in 2020, and under teacher assessments, grades shot up. And after last year’s results, assessments by independent/grammar school teachers shot up further than those by teachers in state schools. Are millions of pupils, past and present, the victims of a national downgrading scam?

This Site received a very interesting – and worrying – comment on this year’s A-level results which I want to share with you.

It said:

“Surely, the BIG story is that this year probably reveals that lots more pupils should have done well in previous years, as well as in this year, but the exam system deliberately DOWNGRADED pupils so that numbers and quotas for college places etc would not be exceeded.

“In reality, before now, many pupils would have done well enough for a University place but, given a lack of enough places, the exam results were “doctored by algorithm” so that, by some mysterious process, the number of suitable pupils was almost exactly the number of college places available!

“The remnant 11-plus system in Kent or Glos works in the same way, producing enough pupils to fill the Grammar school places available, but then “failing” many others who, in other years, would have “passed” with exactly the same exam results.

“But this year, the teachers just made honest assessments of pupil progress and achievements and did not consider things like deliberately downgrading some results so that college places would not be under pressure.

“The big losers are , surely, the thousands of pupils in previous years who did just as well as this year’s, but were then downgraded to mean that they no longer hoped to go on to University.

“Public school kids, like Clarkson, didn’t have to worry about all this as they were set up for life anyway.

“Once again, it would have been the working-class pupils, who flogged their guts out to do well, expected some good results, but were then dismayed to find that ,somehow, they hadn’t done well enough.

“And, in the way this system always works, the victims end up blaming themselves and wish they could have worked harder or were, “more intelligent” etc.”

Looking at this year’s GCSE results in comparison with last year’s, that comment seems very close to the mark – although This Writer doesn’t think it’s about denying college places to people from state schools.

It’s about lying that state school pupils don’t deserve college places and independent/grammar school pupils do.

Look at the way top grades – over all candidates – have shot up by almost half since teacher evaluation was used instead of examinations – from 22 per cent of the total in 2019 to 30 per cent in 2021.

To me, that doesn’t indicate a sudden improvement in pupil performance and it certainly doesn’t indicate that exam conditions have a bad effect on grades.

It tells me that pupils at examinations have been traditionally and habitually marked down, if they were from state schools.

Further evidence is in the way teachers at independent and grammar schools, seeing last year’s results, have marked their pupils up in order to maintain their lead.

What, you think the quality of their teaching or the abilities of their pupils have suddenly shot up by three percent since last year (for grammars) and 14 per cent since 2019 (for independents)?

That isn’t realistic.

And, coupled with the rise in A-level grades over the same period of time and for the same reason, it gives me reason to suggest that state school pupils who took exams in 2019 and at any year before need to get angry.

We should be demanding to know why our results were so low in comparison to the grammars and the independents.

What were the criteria used in marking our papers?

Was there inbuilt bias against state schools? If so, who demanded it?

Any such bias will certainly have -arbitrarily – blighted our careers ever since, and that is utterly unacceptable.

Realistically, we won’t get honest answers from a system that is biased against us. We’ll be fobbed off with lies.

So how about an experiment?

Let’s demand a new system in which exam papers are anonymised – pupils are given numbers to put on their papers, and then the papers are mixed up centrally before being sent to examiners who have not been told any details of their origin.

Then they would have to mark honestly, and then we might learn what has really been going on in the UK’s education system.

As one of millions who are likely to have been penalised on the basis of the school I attended, I’m up for it.

How about you?

Source: GCSE results: pupils achieve record numbers of top grades in England

Victory for school pupils as Tories give up attempt to downgrade them for not being rich

Gavin Williamson: he had to find an excuse to backtrack.

Tory Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has given up his bid to use the Covid-19 lockdown as a weapon against school pupils.

After a wave of protest swept the UK over his use of an algorithm that automatically gave pupils at private schools higher grades than those at state schools – and in fact downgraded state school pupils’ grades based on the performance of previous exam candidates from their school who were nothing to do with them, it seems clear that Williamson has been looking for a way it.

He found it today (August 17). Consider this, from the BBC’s article: “He added the government decided to change policy – bringing England in line with the other UK nations – after it saw a number of outliers that did not ‘make sense’ when Ofqual released additional data about its algorithm at the weekend.”

It’s a rather obvious excuse.

In reality, I think we all know that the Tories – who currently rely heavily on public opinion to form their policies – had realised that they had gone too far with what seemed a clear example of class war.

The attack on ‘A’ level students’ grades would have affected their entire future lives and careers – and although the electorate is generally thought to have a short memory, nobody is likely to forget that kind of betrayal in a hurry.

Here’s the evidence:

The weekend saw a wave of protest:

… including ill-feeling towards the children of richer parents who benefited from the algorithm the Tories used to pretend they had fared better than their poorer counterparts:

But the last straw was probably the decision by the Labour-run Welsh government to follow its Scottish counterpart and ignore the prejudiced Tory algorithm in favour of teachers’ assessments.

It meant the general public would consider the devolved governments – run by political parties other than the Tories – to be on their side, while the Tories were trying to harm them.

So we get this decision to give up and let both ‘A’ level and GCSE pupils have the grades they deserve, and a claim that it is because the government found a fault in its algorithm – which is easy to make as we all know prejudice was written into it.

But I don’t think it will save them at election time, once these pupils are old enough to vote.

They know what the Tories were doing – what Gavin Williamson wanted to do.

He wanted to steal their futures and hand them to people who don’t deserve them.

And I think they’ll remember that.

Note: Say what he likes, Keir Starmer had nothing to do with the government’s u-turn.

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With two million GCSE results set to be downgraded, let’s see employers, schools and colleges tell the Tories to get stuffed

Exams: GCSE students didn’t take them this year, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t worked hard. The Tories are (again) planning to penalise pupils who didn’t go to private schools, for no other reason than that. Let’s see employers and educators ignore their prejudiced downgrade.

It seems the Tories haven’t learned their lesson from the ‘A’ level results scandal and are planning to repeat their stunt next week with GCSE results.

Gavin Williamson is looking forward to downgrading the results of two million school pupils based, not on the results they are expected to get, but on the fact that they didn’t go to an expensive private school.

Of course this represents a serious and bitter injustice that Williamson will perpetrate for no other reason than because he can.

It represents Tory prejudice against people from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds, with the least privileged expected to fare the worst, no matter how intelligent they are or hard they have worked.

That is Tory ignorance for you. Amazingly, Williamson and his ilk were voted into Parliament by the parents of many of the children whose futures will be irreparably harmed.

Williamson is hiding behind a claim that the results are determined by a mechanical algorithm – but he is neglecting to admit that the algorithm was written to reflect Williamson’s own prejudice, that pupils at private schools must be placed above the hoi-polloi, no matter how stupid and undeserving the toffs’ children may be.

The Tories aren’t going to change. It is their agenda to push your children’s faces into the mud while their brats stand on their backs to bask in the sun.

It is up to others to reject what Williamson is doing – that means schools, colleges and employers.

If a pupil at a state school fails to receive the required grades to get the further education place they want, or the job for which they have applied, because the government arbitrarily lowered their grade, then it is the moral responsibility of those businesses and institutions to side with the student.

And I think we need to see those organisations say as much – now.

Let’s have the reassurance for GCSE students that employers and universities denied to their ‘A’ level counterparts.

I’ve already called for a boycott of Tory-supporting organisations after the ‘A’ level fiasco.

Let’s see who won’t stand with the kids and give them the same cold-shoulder treatment. Do you agree?

Source: GCSEs: 2 million results set to be downgraded, researchers warn | Education | The Guardian

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Gavin Williamson’s bigotry has endangered the futures of thousands of people – and the UK as a whole

Promoted beyond his abilities: Gavin Williamson was fired as Defence Secretary last year after… someone… leaked information about Chinese firm Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G system (and look how that story has developed). Now he has messed up the hopes of thousands of ‘A’ level students.

What a fiasco – and all to create an artificial impression that privately-educated school pupils are better than those in the state system.

We all knew that school pupils taken their GCSE and ‘A’ level exams have been seriously disrupted this year, with schools being closed from late March.

This meant it was impossible for their exams to go ahead in the normal way, with knock-on effects for the future of candidates as they apply to move into a career or further education.

There are ways to make fairly accurate predictions of each pupils’ likely achievements, based on their mock examination results and their term work.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson couldn’t be bothered with all of that, so this year’s results are estimates – figures plucked from some apparatchik’s rear end.

The results he has produced show a clear bias in favour of privately-educated pupils that is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny; it seems Williamson has simply promoted the children of rich Tory voters above everybody else.

Picture the scene if you can: Williamson in his office, looking at students’ details.

WILLIAMSON: “Julian Huntley Farquar – studying at Harrowton*. Predicted grades are C, C and… C. We’ll give you an A, A* and, oh, I think another A. Well done, Julian for going to the right school!

“Now, who’s this? Billy Tozer. Factorytown Comprehensive. Predicted A, A and A*! That’ll never do. You can have a D, U and D, Billy – and that’ll teach you not to be born to poor, working-class parents next time!”

(Who’s the real DUD in this vignette, by the way?)

Result: Bedlam.

People are right to be outraged. These seems to be another clear example of the Tories using the Covid-19 crisis to hammer anybody who doesn’t have a million quid in the bank.

Look at these examples of deliberate downgrading:

And how has the Education Secretary responded?

Not only has he said (through Ofqual) that appealing against these false, imposed grades would harm other pupils in the appellant’s school…

But changing the grades would promote pupils “beyond their abilities”:

https://twitter.com/Independent/status/1293870590642851841

I think I speak for the entire United Kingdom when I say that this fiasco has certainly shown how one person has been promoted beyond his abilities – that person being Gavin Williamson.

Williamson should resign – or be sacked again. By downgrading pupils who didn’t go to posh, expensive schools he is harming the future of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Given the right opportunities, those students could go on to become captains of business, industry, science and the arts, leading the nation forward into a brighter future.

But now those opportunities will go to dim Julian who hasn’t got a clue – just because he went to the right school.

It is a crime against the nation.

Oh… the official leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, has said something about this, but it isn’t even worth repeating.

I will repeat some of the responses to him, though:

From Rachael Swindon: “Why aren’t you calling for Gavin Williamson to go immediately? STOP HELPING THE TORIES FFS.”

And from Raphael Dogg: “Criticise. The. Fucking. Government.”

If either of those tweeters is a Labour Party member, I have no doubt that Mr Starmer will be having them expelled as soon as possible.

*Feeble attempt to concoct a fictional public school name.

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Not a State Visit after all: Trump junket to UK is downgraded

Donald Trump is to make a visit to the UK next year, but it will not be a full-blown State Visit [Image: AFP].

This is a bit of good news.

It’s a stay of punishment really, because the State Visit has only been delayed.

Considering Mr Trump’s behaviour, though, it’s possible he will do something utterly unforgivable that will put a State Visit out of the question before he has a chance to turn up.

That would probably be a relief for everybody here.

Donald Trump is set to visit Britain early in 2018 – but for a stripped-down trip that will not include staying with the Queen.

Diplomats are discussing plans for a “working visit” by the US president that will be shorn of the pomp and flummery of a full-blown State Visit.

And instead of a red carpet event to showcase the special relationship, it is likely to form part of a tour of several countries by Mr Trump.

The downgrading of Mr Trump’s first trip as President to the UK follows the huge controversy when Theresa May tried to steal a march on other world leaders by offering a State Visit as guest of the Queen that was intended to take place this summer, breaching a convention that the honour is usually reserved for a president’s second term.

There were threats of boycotts and mass protests when the VIP treatment was announced – with Commons Speaker John Bercow declaring that the President would not be allowed to address the House of Commons.

The visit was then postponed indefinitely, although the invitation is expected to be taken up at some stage.

Source: EXCLUSIVE: Donald Trump to visit UK – but it’s no State Visit and he will NOT meet Queen | London Evening Standard


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Do credit rating agencies pick on countries simply to try to make life harder for us all?

The Treasury accused Moody’s of being out of date following Theresa May’s speech in Florence. [Image: Maurizio Degl’Innocenti/AP].

‘Make it up as we go’ Moody’s has struck again.

The credit agency – composed of a group of elites who meet up every now and then to decide countries’ credit scores, based on nothing more concrete than their personal opinions – has downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AA1 to AA2.

The reasoning is that Brexit will screw up the UK’s economy – and, fair enough, these elite old guys might have a point there – and also that easing austerity and ending the public sector pay cap will pressurise the public finances, making it harder for us to pay off our debts.

Well, if some of the rich elites around here bothered to pay their taxes every now and then, rather than whining about everybody else’s contribution, maybe we’d be able to make ends meet! Am I right?

By the way, the Graun is mistaken about the date Moody’s downgraded us from AAA – it was way back in February 2013.

That downgrade came after Gideon 0sborne, boy chancellor (and latterly boy editor of the E’enin’ Stannit (that’s the Evening Standard if you’re not from Lahndon) had spent two and a half years using the triple-A rating as a stick to beat Labour, claiming the UK had kept the high rating because of his policies, not theirs.

And what changed? Nothing. The UK continued to gain favourable credit deals because it turns out that, having a sovereign currency (Sterling), we’re considered always to be able to pay our debts.

Now, with the credit downgrade blamed entirely on the Tories, they aren’t crowing about their record any more; they can’t. Their policies have lumbered us with the largest public debt in the history of the UK, along with a huge amount of private debt as well.

It’s a miracle we can get any credit at all – but then again, we’ve got that sovereign currency which means we can create money if we have to. That’s what quantitative easing was, after all.

No, this time the Tories are accusing Moody’s of being out of date, because the downgrade was based on the situation before Theresa May gave her Florence speech on Brexit, that gave so much more clarity about the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Did you miss that part of the speech? Don’t worry – so did the rest of us.

This Writer is left with the impression that these rich elites are playing a game with each other, knowing that the only people who will suffer from their decisions are the poor.

The Treasury has hit back at warnings by the credit ratings agency Moody’s that the likelihood of a hard Brexit and a squeeze on the public finances would damage the UK economy’s long-term health.

Announcing its decision just hours after Theresa May gave her speech in Florence on the government’s Brexit strategy, the ratings agency said it had cut the UK’s credit rating to Aa2 from Aa1 partly in response to the looming prospect of the UK’s access to the European Union’s single market and customs union being reduced.

Moody’s, which was the first major credit ratings agency to strip Britain of its top-notch AAA rating in 2016, said plans to ease austerity measures and lift the public sector pay cap would put pressure on the public finances while slower growth over the next four to five years was likely to reduce tax receipts.

Source: Treasury criticises Moody’s after UK credit rating is downgraded | Business | The Guardian


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‘Lies, damned lies’, the IMF and government borrowing

We interrupt our series on how to get the UK back to work for a few words about the economy: Out of the frying pan, into the fire!

The IMF has downgraded its growth expectations for the UK economy this year by a whole one per cent, from 1.6 per cent to 0.6 per cent.

In other words, the downward spiral that’s been going on – ever since David Cameron and George Osborne decided to halt the promising recovery we were enjoying before they came to office in 2010 – continues unabated.

So austerity doesn’t work, right?

My problem with this is that the information comes from the International Monetary Fund – the very organisation that told us our economy had a completely clean bill of health, immediately before the Credit Crunch. How can we ever trust anything that comes out of it again?

On the ‘plus’ side, every downgrade of the UK’s predicted economic performance since the Coalition came to power has come true, as near as you like, so I think we can rely on this one.

On the ‘minus’ side, this means the UK economy – our industry, our commerce, our way of life – is in one heck of a lot of doodoo. If you think we’re at rock bottom now, imagine our situation at the end of the year, with 12 months of bat guano beneath rock bottom, and us beneath that.

On the very same day that this announcement came out, the government announced that it is on course to meet its borrowing target for the current financial year.

As I understand it, this is the target that was revised upwards in the Chancellor’s autumn statement, and the bank levy, last January’s VAT increase and debt control measures are helping the government reach it.

So austerity does work, right? The BBC even produced a Germanic-sounding pundit to underline the finding, sort of like: “Ja ja, austerity ist vorkink!” (Thank you, ‘Cultural Stereotypes R Us’, for that one).

But… This is the same government that said a majority of disabled people supported its proposed ‘reforms’ of their benefits (they didn’t) and doctors and nurses approved of its plans to change the NHS (they don’t).

Unemployment recently rose to a high point, in recent years, of 2.68 million – nearly 10 per cent of the workforce. How much is the government spending on benefits for these people?

I feel certain that one of the above-mentioned institutions will be making an apologetic climbdown again soon.

And I doubt it’ll be the IMF.

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