If you have been following the BBC’s coverage of the English exam marking saga you may be a little confused.

As I am.

I understood that the problem was that the exams in January were marked too generously…and therefore the June exams were marked more rigorously….i.e. to the proper standard.   This would mean that those students taking the exams in January have in fact received grades that they may not have merited…higher than deserved…but the story we get…and the story accepted without question by the BBC is that the students in June, who have been marked properly, have been treated unfairly and have lost countless jobs, apprenticeships and university places because of too harsh marking.

Maybe I’m wrong…and a little too hardnosed, but it seems that they got the marks they merited in June and those in January should pretend they took their exams in June….for a bit of credibility.

Nice though of the BBC to side unquestionably with the downtrodden students and the teachers.

Below is an interesting comparison of the BBC’s coverage and the Telegraph’s….which one do you think mentioned teachers ‘cheating’?

The BBC made absolutely no mention of it at all…no mention of the admissions by teachers to OFQUAL that the Telegraph lays out for us.

The BBC does however give us what must be just about every whinge and moan from the teachers and the Unions that are horrified at any suggestion that they may be to blame.

Teachers have hit out at claims they marked GCSE work too generously, as new data show the decline in pupils getting at least a C in English.

Glenn Smith, principal of Honiton Community College in Devon, told the BBC that teachers in his English department used “stringent” measures to ensure they were marking these assessments fairly and consistently.
“An awful lot of work goes into ensuring their marking is accurate – the pressure they live with is intense,” he said.
“To say they’ve marked up is outrageous.”

Philip Rush, deputy head teacher at St Peter’s High School, Gloucester, said: “The fiasco surrounding the unfairness of this summer’s grades is a political not an educational fiasco.
“St Peter’s High School deplores the slur made on the school’s teachers, and on all English teachers working in England,

Val Tyreman, a science teacher from Stockton-on-Tees, described Ofqual’s report as “appalling”.

John Townsley, executive principal of two academy schools in Leeds, said: “The problem is that Ofqual were asleep in the early part of the award.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “For Ofqual to suggest that teachers and schools are to blame is outrageous and flies in the face of the evidence.
“The accountability measures do place tremendous pressure on teachers and schools, especially at GCSE grade C, but to say that teachers would compromise their integrity to the detriment of students is an insult.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “It is a diversion to attempt to blame teachers for following the rules they were given.

Teachers’ anger over the marking fiasco was reflected in a survey in the Times Education Supplement.
The survey of 467 secondary schools in England found 93% had lost faith in Ofqual, with more than half saying they had no confidence in the regulator.
Responding to the survey schools described the watchdog as “underhand”, “incompetent”, “bullying and callous” and “a Gove puppet”.

Ofqual: ‘We have to cheat, nanny and fiddle’, teachers say
Teachers have admitted “fiddling” exam grades and cheating to keep up with rivals they distrust, a report by Ofqual claims, as one reveals: “We have to cheat because other schools will be doing so.”




The Telegraph’s slant on the affair:

In their own words: how teachers were pressured into bending the system

I’ve just read my school e-mail to find the instructions for getting the CA [controlled assesssment] folders together, and including the instruction ‘All folders must be at or above target grade.’ This is being done by either getting kids to rewrite CAs after they’ve been marked, or by fiddling the Speaking and Listening grades to make up for lost marks on the written work. When I’ve dared to suggest that the CAs should be done in exam conditions and that lots of schools are doing that, I’m told that that is rubbish, that CAs are really coursework, and that we have to cheat because other schools will be doing so, and we cannot afford to let our results slip at all.

The drive to achieve targets is definitely corrupting and I loathe being made to feel that I am not doing right by my students because I am not making them stay behind after school week after week to rewrite the bloody things.

The school felt that proper regulation of CA was well-nigh impossible and that controlled conditions were being interpreted very differently in different schools. This was creating suspicion and distrust between schools.

I feel I am being made to cheat. I’ve taught the kids and then let them do the tasks – we have to do them in the classrooms, except for those who need access arrangements, who are under the beady eye of external invigilators. I taught my kids, gave them the opportunity to make notes, and then did the damned things like an exam. Result? Lots of them underperformed against their targets. Not good enough. This work, I am told, is really coursework, and has to be at target grade, or they will not reach their targets at the end of the course. Others in the department have done marked drafts. I’m now feeling pressured to get some of mine to redo various pieces. I’ve voiced my objections, but have been told that the long and the short of it is that they have to be nannied through at every stage – there is disbelief when I say that some schools are doing the CAs as exams. I resent the implication that I am failing my kids, when actually what they produce is probably more accurate as an indication of their abilities than their target grades are. The sooner this nonsense is stopped and we go back to 100 per cent exams, the better.

Wide variety of methods for putting CA in place, such as students writing a first draft which was then given written comments by teacher. This being subsequently written up by a student. Doesn’t feel like a level playing field.

The mark scheme is so vague you can drive a coach and horses through it.

However, the real problem is that no matter what syllabus we teach, we will still be expected to get students up to grades that are unrealistic and we will still be expected to ‘teach to the test’ to get them through. The pressure on teachers to get results is preventing us from doing any real teaching.

We have been asked to rework controlled assessments, mark them and give them back for improvement. In some cases we are virtually writing them for the students. This to me is no different to coursework and raises the issue of why coursework was replaced.



Interesting how the BBC were all over the police for rewriting their Hillsborough reports but are happy to look the other way when teachers are rewriting pupils exam work.

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  1. Ian Hills says:

    It doesn’t help that teacher training standards were relaxed some years ago so that all could win prizes, even retards. Gove is trying to fix this, but scant thanks he gets from the beeb.


  2. Jim Dandy says:


    See main bbc news article here:

    The over generous marking point is made abundantly clear.

    Are you being deliberately obtuse?


    • Amounderness Lad says:

      Not the overall impression I got from reading the article. Teachers were not inflating marks, they were simply engaging in “optimistic” marking. Aye, right, “He didn’t kill him with a spade, it was a manually operational excavation device.” No, a spade is a spade, and deliberately inflating marks is deliberately inflating marks no matter what inventive description is used to dry and hide the fact.

      The whole article is intended to give the impression that it is not the teachers who were deliberately inflating marks or evern those who were returning inadequate marked work to be redone to have mistakes replaced, it was all down to those nasty people who will keep insisting that teaching is done to a proper standard. How dare they criticise teaching standards, it’s not fair to teachers.

      As for the claim that if the same lowering of standards is carried out nationally then it doesn’t really matter, what nonsense. If that is the case then, provided it is done nationally, I, along with everybody else who can stick a plaster on a cut, should be made a Doctor of Medicine, after all, we would have been teated to the same level nationally, wouldn’t we.

      alan is right, the BBC are sending a loud and clear message that it’s not the teachers who fiddled the marking who are wrong, it is everybody else who is at fault.


    • Old Goat says:

      Always have to be different, Jim, don’t you?

      The post makes perfect sense to me.

      Mind you, I was educated in the late fifties, and early sixties, when it was a proper secondary (and latterly, college) education, hence my grammar is good, my spelling excellent, (apart from the odd careless typo) my maths not too bad, and science, physics, history, geography, and all round general knowledge good enough to answer most questions on Eggheads.

      I’m not too sure what is taught these days, but if the level of comment in most of the newspapers is anything to go by, not a lot. Who is to blame, largely, for that? The bloody teachers, that’s who.


    • The Highland Rebel says:

      ‘abundantly clear’
      Do they not know that abundance is an excess of a physical entity ie mass or volume whilst clarity is only a perception.
      So according to the b-bbc you can have a mass or volume of clarity.

      Do I make myself abundantly clear?


  3. Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

    There is a simple reason for the bBBC line.
    More than half of the members of the Labour Party are teachers.
    Therefore the bBBC always supports the teachers.


    • Guest Who says:

      At risk of seeming obtuse, to some such context or facts appear less compelling than impressions, but on this subject, it seems an interesting projection that those entering a profession dedicated to educating children in the best manner possible found themselves compelled by career-driven options to opt for a social engineering box-ticking strategic path instead.
      Maybe not the root cause at policy level, but certainly complicit, and apparently unhappy at having a light shone on the less than stellar notion of dragging all down to a level than aspiring to change things for the better.
      Such light of course can, in the hands of certain selective media more keen on narratives themselves, seem a bit dim.


    • Leon says:

      But there are 190,000 members in the Labour Party and there are currently around 430,000 teachers working in state schools. The majority of Labour Party members may be teachers but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the majority of teachers are Labour Party members. I don’t deny your point-that the BBC tends to follow a trade union agenda in a lot of its reporting-but it’s a myth that the teaching profession is in toto left wing. Leftist teachers do undoubtedly exist: the SWP, UAF etc. are full of them but these are fringe organisations (with arguably disproportionate media coverage relative to their size) and I would suggest that they are easily outnumbered by Tory voting teachers (they do exist, honest!)

      It has also got a lot to do with-at secondary level- subject specialism. I doubt if there are many left wing PE teachers; likewise for maths and the sciences. Granted the humanities do attract the left leaning but even in these subjects I doubt if support for the left is universal.

      If teachers as a group do have a default political position then I’d say it’s a weary cynicism about the motives of all politicians.


      • johnnythefish says:

        So the socialist crap we hear from teachers’ union leaders is massively out of step with those in the profession?


      • Privatise the BBC says:

        You didn’t go to my school.
        Virtually every teacher spouted left wing garbage and yes, argued for a state broadcaster.


    • Prole says:

      None of the teaching unions are affiliated withg the TUC. The last time I saw a breakdown of voting figures in education about 40% voted Tory.


  4. Wild says:

    One summer afternoon in 1985 I was browsing in Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford when I heard a familiar voice. Where had I heard it before? I turned around and discovered it was Huw Wheldon. I remember watching him give the most brilliant defence of the BBC I ever heard. It went something like this…..

    We who work for the BBC have no talent, or at least very modest talent, our justification is giving a platform to people with talent. We give talent the opportunity (free from commercial pressures) to flourish, thereby enriching us all, and setting a benchmark of excellence for rival broadcasters.

    When I heard him say this he convinced me of the value of the BBC. Indeed it would not be going too far to say that I loved the BBC – for all its faults. After all imperfection IS the human condition, as everybody who does not spend their time sneering at the miracle of life appreciates.

    These days however I very much doubt people go around introducing themselves as working for the BBC, unless they want a punch in the mouth. So what did Huw Wheldon get wrong?

    What he failed to realise is that talentless people (if they have big egos) are resentful of the fact they have no talent. So they compensate by deluding themselves about their own talent, and hating in others what they lack.

    So you get mediocrities such as Jonathan Dimbleby or Melvyn Bragg or Jeremy Paxman or Stephen Fry getting fat living off the serfs, and justifying their entitlements by closing off debate, wallowing in their resentments, and sneering at anything which threatens their pious socialism – an ideological veneer [as everybody can see] which only thinly disguises their fragile narcissism.

    In other words the BBC these days far from nourishing and expanding our souls impoverishes our national life. Nearly every utterance from the BBC pulpit these days serves a Party agenda, by which I mean the stultifying, life hating, sneering, talentless morally corrupt hacks of the Stalinist Labour Party, who define themselves by their opposition to a free society, and whose sense of entitlement (as the MP’s expenses scandal as revealed by the Daily Telegraph has shown) is bottomless.

    The Guardian reading leeches at the BBC not only feed off the serfs they despise, they release their toxins into the national bloodstream. The BBC is a bloated cancer of intellectual mediocrity, ideological uniformity, and cultural ignorance, whose empty headed adherence to Leftist mantras is matched only by their eagerness to pass on their privileges to their children.

    In other words the BBC are the medieval church at its most corrupt, a smug ruling elite who believe that a media studies degree and the right connections entitles them to kick away any ladder which (by virtue of acknowledging objective (not political) standards of excellence enables) hard working serfs strive to escape from the tax farmed servitude of arse licking the Leftist elite.

    Getting rid of the BBC and replacing it with media freedom would be like sweeping away a foul smog and watching the grey bleak heath that is modern Britain come back into life.

    Let us throw nihilism in the bin, and start believing once more in the excellence of our own values. Yes exit the corrupt EU, but first of all let us get rid of its local church, the BBC, which not only feeds off British decay, it actively seeks to create it, by striving to make celebrations of our cultural (Western and British) inheritance almost unthinkable.


    • Span Ows says:

      Hear hear Wild! Excellent analogy too: ‘medieval church’, no doubt started for the good but slowly corrupted by it’s position of ‘superiority’ so instead of helping the community it intentionally maintains it ‘below’, giving just enough to enable hoi polloi to survive but nowhere near enough to flourish.


    • Reed says:

      Stirring stuff, Wild! One to cut and keep!


    • MartinW says:

      I agree with much of what you say, but we should think long and hard about getting rid of state support for the BBC. Radios 3 and 4 would become highly vulnerable, and a great deal of its television is very good – and has the incomparable benefit of programming without interruption by advertising. The BBC does, however, need root-and-branch reform, and that must be a top priority of any incoming Conservative government (if there is any longer any chance of that). The Trust needs to be completely re-staffed with members committed to bringing back balance, and the BBC charter needs to be legally binding.
      By the way, I would exempt Melvyn Bragg from your list. He may be a Labour-luvvie, but his ‘In Our Time’ is one of the very best things on BBC Radio, and makes no concession to its listeners: there is no dumbing down and it assumes its listeners have some intelligence!


      • worker drone 22 says:

        Listening to In Our Time episodes from years gone by has been the only time I’ve ever found a use for the BBC iplayer !


      • Wild says:

        I must admit I have not listened to Radio Four for years so the public sector union mantras which are so familiar to us from the rest of its output may not yet have completely destroyed it (although the last thing I recall listening to on Radio Four was a woman telling me how bad freedom is for our psychological health – and so I exercised my freedom not to listen to it again) but I chose Melvyn Bragg ( I actually have is book with selections of his In Our Time Series and enjoyed reading it) because he is the very best of the BBC and even he cannot help putting himself into the foreground with his chippy and sanctimonious intolerance of anybody that strays from the Party line.

        But I agree that Bragg’s lower middle class socialism is rooted in a belief in public education unlike the output of the intellectually and morally corrupt upper middle class New Left thought police who dominate the output of the BBC these days.

        The same goes for Stephen Fry whose QI programme I watch with enjoyment, but which I notice pursues an ignorant [Quite Ignorant] “correct thinking” agenda – the Daily Mail is satanic, all religion is superstition, and George Osbourne is an asshole and so forth, By the way I have never bought a Daily Mail, am not religious, and am not particularly impressed by George Osbourne but I find hectoring by that sanctimonious third rate actor and ex-public school boy thief Stephen Fry all too typical of the contemporary BBC.


      • Sir Arthur Strebe-Grebling says:

        But the bBBC has given away the incomparable benefit of programming without interruption by advertising. Several minutes of every hour they broadcast are occupied by advertisements for their own programmes!
        The ultimate example was when the bBBC curtailed coverage of the Diamond Jubilee concert to show two such advertisements.


        • MartinW says:

          Yes, indeed! I agree, but didn’t want to be too ranting in my last message! The constant trails on R4 for programmes are extremely irritating – so much so, I mute the sound after every programme sector until I’m sure they are finished. I’d rather miss a portion of the programme than listen to J. Dimbleby in a trail promoting his ghastly ‘Any Questions’.


      • David Preiser (USA) says:

        The license fee and the whole concept of the Corporation exist only in order to maintain the official position that the news department is editorially independent from government interference, or even the appearance of potential for it. The rest of it doesn’t matter, and could easily by funded by the government directly or indirectly, and nobody would mind one bit. Except maybe the exorbitant budget for Radio 1, as that particular service could easily be provided by the private sector.

        I mean, until the new deal kicks in, the World Service has always been primarily funded directly by the Foreign Office, and nobody ever seemed to bat an eyelash about editorial independence there. In fact it seems to be tacitly accepted that the World Service can function as an arm of the Government, to, as Jeremy Paxman put it, “spread influence”. Nobody seems to mind about that.

        It’s the domestic news and information part that’s the key to this whole thing. Separate that out from Attenborough, light entertainment, and the orchestras, and it’s an entirely different argument.


    • Prole says:

      What’s this to do with GCSE English?


    • doggywoggydooda says:

      Bang on correct!!!


      • Wild says:

        It is amusing how our pseudo-proletarian friend seeks to police the comments section of this blog. Leftists just cannot stop themselves. As doggywoggydooda points out kicking away any ladder which relies on objective (not political) standards of excellence has nothing to do with education and everything to do with the mindset of the contemporary BBC.

        Get your certificates of correct thinking ready.


  5. Deborah says:

    thanks Alan for your post. The whole BBC slant on this saga is that these young people who got ‘D’s should have got ‘C’s and that their whole career is being blighted. But they didn’t get ‘C’s because their work was simply not good enough (the much fewer number who took them in January and were border line C/D were lucky). But for employers and Higher Education authorities – they need to know that those who got a ‘C’ are capable of that quality of work. Gove has been fighting the teaching unions have a grade meaning something – but he has been fighting the BBC for the same reason.


  6. Prole says:

    The rather pathetic attempt by OFQUAL (there’s a quango if ever there was one) to blame teachers when they changed the goalposts is the issue.

    Even more pathetic is Alan’s usual ill informed rant with selective quotes to give the impression that that teachers are venal cheats in league with the BBC.

    If you only measure a system by one outcome, in this case A-C results, then any individual will do their best to meet the targets. If they follow all the instructions then the rules are changed then they and the 45000 kids affected are entitled to be pissed off.

    The entire banking system destroyed our livelihoods by becoming fixated on the bonus and leaving all other considerations out. Murdoch’s pressure on the NoW for celeb scoops resulted in journalists forgetting ethics…

    And so on. Maybe if we cared more about the breadth and range of educating our kids and not an obscession over 5 subjects which specifically exclude Technology and IT then we might get somewhere.

    I believe most people reading these blogs are unmarried childless white males. The contempt shown towards other peoples kids only confirms this. Go and ask the parents of a kid denied a sixth form place whether they agree with the claptrap written above. Wear a cricket box.


    • David Hanson says:

      Blimey, Prole – I wouldn’t have thought it possible to bring the Bankers and Murdoch into this argument, but you have proved me wrong. Congratulations.


    • jarwill101 says:

      If the box fits, Prole, wear it!


      • jarwill101 says:

        Damn. It was going to be Cameo, singing ‘Word Up!’ If you can find it you’ll get the ‘box’ reference. Hey, we’re not all old & childless, either.


        • Reed says:

          I bet the guy from Cameo is not childless either, with a box like that.

          Apologies for vulgarity.


          • Wild says:

            “contempt shown towards other peoples kids”

            Guardian reader socialism in a nutshell.


            • Reed says:

              Sometimes even their own kids aren’t spared…

              The son of author, theatre director and neuropsychologist Sir Jonathan Miller has hit back at his father’s claims that his three children were academic failures and a disappointment to him.

              William Miller claims that he and his two siblings would have fared better had they been sent to public schools and Oxbridge, like their parents, but instead they were sent to state schools to appease the couple’s socialist principals.



              • Earls court says:

                Never trust a man who keeps his glasses on a chain unless is Larry Grayson RIP.


              • chrisH says:

                Miller J is the flop.
                That man has never made anybody laugh, but was lucky enough to have fagged for Cook or whoever.
                And-unlike Bennett, he has no discernible talent that I can speak of.
                Atheist-rabid anti-homoeopathy- and an utter sanctimonious self-satisfied creep.
                I`m not saying he`s not good at opera and plays….I am a Philistine after all, nor am I saying that he could not have been a decent doctor..The Body In Question showed promise…but he decided to be a homeopathic dilution of Peter Ustinov or Clive James-without the charm or wit.
                Best of all-believe he was about to do some cultural piece for the BBC about graffitti…how edgy, urban and chic.
                But then somebody sprayed graffitti on a wall opposite his own house in…where else?..Hampstead.
                Piece canned!…if only Miller had been.
                Whatever the kids so-they`ll be better than this self-loathing, BBC padded hypocrite…First Class…”sah!”
                No-Millers obituary needs to reflect what happens when a good scalpel goes into the arts, and thinks itself a polymath, intellectual or renaissance man”.
                Sorry Millers kids-you deserved better!


    • Derek Buxton says:

      No way, the decay started back in the fifties with the labour party using a conservative law to ruin education and with it social mobility. They went on to fill teacher training Colleges with left wing tutors. From there it was all downhill. Just look at the pathetic attempts by people to spell, use grammar correctly, do arithmetic, it is outrageous. I noted one teacher’s comment “we try to teach kids”, which zoo did she work in? That says it all!


      • Jim Dandy says:

        You mean the Sixties?


        • Stewart S says:

          Both Theodore Dalrymple (Spoilt Rotten) and Melanie Phillips (All Must Have Prizes) make a good case for the ‘deconstructionist’ take over of education to have begun in the post war period


    • johnnythefish says:

      The entire banking system destroyed our livelihoods

      Priceless ignorance.


    • chrisH says:

      So you think we`re unmarried childless white males do you?
      “No matter what we`d tell you…what you believe is true”….now go off and play your Stephen Gateley tribute act CD, and come back when you`re prepared to think for yourself-or set up your own site.
      As a married teacher in a state school, Alan is FAR closer to the truth that you will ever be, based on your post.
      In classroom parlance..”.being challenged beyond you capacity to learn”.
      Go stand by Saviles statue and reflect on your caricatured, lazy ignorance and stereotyping.
      Clearly , based on this post; you`re not a teacher yourself-let alone one who has ever dealt with an exam board, an ILEA/LEA or the likes of Clarke or Morris…now I have, and Alan is largely correct in all of this.
      So back of the class….and don`t spoil it for those who come here to learn something!
      Unteachable-and we`ve no tertiary facilities suitable for you either-thank you Blunkett!


  7. chrisH says:

    Fridays “Today” interview with a head(who had once worked for OFQUAL)-about 8.40 am or so with Justin Webb was the very apothesis of the three minute culture(to quote Alan Partridge PBUH).
    Webb and that sqeaking teen who was bereft at failing to get into EMA/Uni territory(delete as you like) who was there to “emote” only showed the prep school perpetrators of relativist elitism bashing that the BBC does only so well-room only for one elite thank you very much, as Wild brilliantly says above.
    The head forensically demolishes OFQUAL, and I have no argument with anything he said…but the very idea that teachers have not been conning it for years to satisfy Radice/Byers/Blunkett/Morris/Clarke/Johnson/Miliband .D/Balls…Twigg…all their fellow Labour Party/Guardian and TES ciphers and stoogy placemen ; is a nonce-sense(as the BBC B.S must now be called ).
    The exams have been stitched for years, SATs removed because the State were that incompetent, the teachers that venal…and that thickies getting a “C” in January were as smart as those getting a “C” they year before will be rubbish.
    All that happened in July is that they didn`t mark Shite as correct, when the aural said “shit”…little else changed.
    That said, there were real contradictions and stupidities in double entry coursework, where work for one subject was entered for another-real stupidities, that only New Labour could have created…never forget who did this!
    The likes of Webb wouldn`t know a State exam system from a tax dodge offshore…and the kid hopefully had seen the CRB check before she went near a BBC studio/OB van…if not, an FoI enquiry to remove all concerned please!
    Oh, by the way-I`m a teacher!


    • chrisH says:

      No…f.a.oJim etc
      “I”…not “i” am a teacher….but , hey I`m passionate about education…and not about kids as Savile and the BBC seem to be.


  8. Redwhiteandblue says:

    Alan again compares apples with pears. The Sunday Telegraph article is an investigative piece, the BBC one simply reports what happened and reaction to it.

    More to the point, have you paid a royalty for use of the Molesworth image? It’s still in copyright, so unless you’ve cleared this for use you’re breaking copyright law.


    • Guest Who says:

      And in today’s ‘Semantics Corner’ we have…
      The Sunday Telegraph article is an investigative piece, the BBC one simply reports what happened and reaction to it.
      I’d be interested in how one reports anything without investigating it just a tad… but OK, the BBC vox pop is usually f-all to do with anything put bolting on a selected 3rd party parroting what the edit suite likes.
      Meanwhile, as the theatre of the bizarre continues apace as those who could care less continue to act as policemen of a site no one pays attention to..


  9. johnnythefish says:

    What used to be ‘oral’ and ‘aural’ is now ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’. Forget school and think Play School, but at least it helps those ‘for whom English is not their first language’.