Tag Archives: exams

Williamson’s failures on home learning expose Tory policy stupidity on ‘Broadband Communism’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson may be acting “to the utmost of his ability”, but so was Frank Spencer – the calamitous comedy character with whom Williamson has been compared.

If this inspires confidence in you, then you’re not thinking hard enough:

Saying the prime minister thinks Gavin Williamson is being Education Secretary “to the utmost of his ability” is not the same as saying he has “full confidence” in him.

Williamson has far too many mistakes in his recent history for any member of the public to have full confidence in him, let alone any school pupil.

Only yesterday he admitted that his Covid-19-related failures – in both policy and practice – have made it impossible to hold GCSE, AS and A level exams this year:

Perhaps you don’t grasp the enormity of the admission from what he said. Labour’s shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green, made it clear that she holds him to blame for the chaos in the education system.

The reason Williamson has cancelled the exams is that the Covid-19 crisis – and its effect on schools – has made it impossible to ensure that pupils across the UK have been educated to an equivalent standard.

The reasons for the uneven standards include the fact that teachers have been unable to plan their lessons properly due to Williamson’s unfortunate habit of announcing that schools will stay open no matter what – and then closing them.

Also, he was supposed to provide laptops to pupils, in order to ensure that they could carry on learning to an acceptable standard even if they were confined to their homes. He didn’t (or at least, he didn’t provide enough).

This has now necessitated children without laptops being added to the “vulnerable” list of youngsters who have to go to school during lockdown, alongside the kids of key workers. This amounts to another example of class warfare – kids without laptops are likely to be poor, and sending them to school exposes them to the most common vector for transmission of the killer virus:

Finally, there’s the fact that some families don’t have access to the broadband internet connections necessary to experience this kind of home learning.

The Tories now agree with Labour that this is a good idea – but it is too late to implement it in time to help this year’s crop of exam-takers.

Let us remind ourselves of the reaction – from the Tories and the mass media – when the Labour Party proposed free broadband across the UK in the run-up to the 2019 general election:

Who was right?

John McDonnell and Labour, of course (Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, that is. Kate Green, while being right about Gavin Williamson, also said that schools should stay open. That’s the lunacy of the party under Keir Starmer for you)).

If that party had been elected, free broadband would have been brought to the UK, school pupils would have been able not only to do their homework but to carry out distance learning, preparing them for their exams which would not have had to be cancelled – and it would have helped adults to work from home as well, which would have been a great help to a great many people during lockdown, as well.

That’s the problem with silly Tory ideological incompetence.

Their failure to accept the wisdom of free broadband, and their failure to equip school pupils for home learning, means Williamson has been forced to cancel exams because pupils are not well-enough educated.

As a result, the UK’s workforce will be less competitive in the world marketplace in the future, when compared with other countries that were better-prepared and more willing to help everybody in their populations, rather than just the very rich.

So when we look at the malady afflicting the UK’s education system under the Conservatives, during the Covid-19 crisis, we can see one thing clearly:

Williamson is a symptom of the illness. Conservative government is the cause.

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Welsh government’s decisive action on school exams would shame Johnson – if it were possible to

Socially-distanced exams: they won’t mean anything if school pupils can’t be guaranteed a full education in the 2020-21 academic year – and they can’t.

Days after it was revealed that Boris Johnson’s government was issuing contradictory demands to schools and had made no decision on next year’s exams, the Welsh government has shamed him.

School pupils in Wales will not take GCSE or A-level exams in 2021; instead, pupils’ futures will be decided by teacher-managed assessments, according to Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams.

This Writer knows Ms Williams personally; she’s my Assembly Member. We have collaborated on some political projects – and we’ve also clashed, because her politics isn’t the same as mine.

That said, she is clearly right on this: “It is impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place.”

What a contrast with the dithering and confusion of Boris Johnson, as reported by This Site on Saturday (November 7):

After the Times Educational Supplement revealed that the government hasn’t even bothered to plan the school year in advance, taking into account the possibility of Covid-19 interference in next year’s exams, it turns out that staff are working flat-out to accommodate contradictory demands from the Department for Education, some being changed within hours

And Johnson is still dithering!

Boris Johnson’s spokesman said there were no plans for England to follow Wales. He said: “There’s no change in our own position in relation to exams. We’ve set out that they will take place slightly later this year, to give students more time to prepare. We continue to think that exams are the fairest way of judging a student’s performance.”

Perhaps he’s kidding himself that he is being strong by ignoring the ridicule he’s getting.

Perhaps he’s simply taking an opportunity to build more inequality into the education system – state-educated English school pupils will now be at a further disadvantage in comparison with those who are educated privately – or in one of the other UK countries.

The latter possibility should not surprise anybody after Dominic Raab’s bid to penalise millions of exam-takers across the UK for being educated by the state, earlier this year.

Experts are insisting that a level playing-field cannot be guaranteed, in line with Ms Williams’s statement.

How long will Boris Johnson insist on letting English education slide?

Source: Welsh move to cancel GCSE and A-level exams puts pressure on No 10 | UK news | The Guardian

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