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Passing the buck

(13 Posts)
varian Wed 26-Aug-20 19:27:14

Boris Johnson sacks education mandarin and blames exam fiasco on ‘mutant algorithm’

Jonathan Slater is the fifth Permanent Secretary to be sacked this year. This is unprecedented. The government has been shown to be hopelessly incompetent. Ministers should have resigned, but instead they pass the buck and shift the blame onto civil servants. Just what would a minister have to do to be sackied?

growstuff Wed 26-Aug-20 19:48:29

Well, I did think Johnson would try to get the "people" on his side, which is precisely what he attempted with that talk to schoolchildren about the "mutant algorithm". I cringed when I heard it. He obviously thinks they're pretty stupid and I think somebody should have told him that Teenage Mutant Turtles are definitely last century.

PS. Somebody needs to take that whip off Williamson's desk and steal his little book of dirty secrets.

mcem Wed 26-Aug-20 20:31:05

Cummings set out to 'reform' the civil service.
Seems to be achieving his objective.
After all, we know who's boss in WM.

Urmstongran Wed 26-Aug-20 21:26:22

As I see it ... Just to lay out a couple of facts. Covid throws exams in the air. Exams could have been sat in June in empty schools but unions refused.

Government commissions an algorithm to guess what kids might have got. Kids are up in arms because they don't get what they want.

Government says OK use your mock results as an objection. Teachers complain because apparently they mark mocks down.

Government says ‘fine let teachers set grades’. Teachers promptly hand out A's like sweeties except to the kids they don't like. Kids didn't do the exams so it's all guess work.

They should do their exams in autumn if the aren't happy. It's a joke and it's all down to the unions and the teachers. Laughable.

growstuff Wed 26-Aug-20 21:42:33

Please could you provide evidence that unions refused to allow exams to be sat in empty schools. It's the first I've heard of it and I keep my ears to the ground on educational matters.

If you can't, I'll assume that's fake news and you were choosing to be mischievous Urmstongran.

growstuff Wed 26-Aug-20 21:44:04

Actually, I've just read your post again Urmstongran and it's absolute rubbish. Where on earth did you pick up that version?

growstuff Wed 26-Aug-20 21:44:58

In fact, it's an outrageous interpretation!!! [anger]

growstuff Wed 26-Aug-20 21:45:44

Are you trying to be a fiction writer?

growstuff Wed 26-Aug-20 21:49:23

I'm actually very angry because it's just plain stupid and I find it difficult to believe that anybody came to those conclusions.

For your information, the people who finally changed Ofqual's mind were the headteachers of schools such as Eton, whose pupils were adversely affected and who wrote to Mr Johnson directly.

geekesse Wed 26-Aug-20 21:54:17

Urmstongran, your post is incorrect on so many points I’m not going to waste time correcting each point. But just for the record, please tell me, why do you dislike teachers so much?

Urmstongran Wed 26-Aug-20 21:59:24

I don’t.
Our youngest daughter is a KS1 lead.
I’m just not keen on the teacher unions bashing Boris’ attempts to get the schools up & running.
Scientists have tried reassuring them.
Other countries don’t have a problem.
What’s up uk?

geekesse Wed 26-Aug-20 22:33:03


1. Nobody except some of the more ranting press suggested opening schools for exams. The exams were cancelled by the government in March.

2. The government (actually Ofqual) devised an algorithm which was supposed to ‘standardise’ centre assessed grades. We all know now that it introduced an unfair bias which favoured small classes and children in independent schools and undervalued the achievement of bright kids in large, historically underperforming school. The objections came from all sectors of the community, including parents, schools and unions.

3. The problem with mocks is that there’s no standard practice in schools, so mock results are not comparable. Some schools only do one exam paper, some two or three; some mark down and others don’t; some do them in November before the course is finished and others do them in the spring term and test the whole syllabus. It had stuff all to do with teachers complaining.

4. Teachers did not ‘set grades’. Schools were given detailed advice on how grades should be assessed. Teachers had some input into the the calculation, but the final grades were assessed and submitted by the CENTRE - that is, the school - not by teachers. The centre-assessed grades were calculated in May, well before anyone had any idea that there would be a problem with the algorithm. It is true that teachers erred on the generous side, but that was at least partly because it is nigh on impossible to guess which, if any students, would get something badly wrong (misread a question, turn over two pages and miss out questions, have a panic attack etc) under exam conditions.

4a. It wasn’t ‘guesswork’. It was a very careful assessment based on evidence following detailed instructions from the government and Ofqual.

5. There is indeed the option to do the exams in the Autumn. What’s the problem?

Now please tell me which part of this gives you cause to blame teachers or teaching unions?

MaizieD Wed 26-Aug-20 23:19:05

Well, Ug's daughter is a KS1 lead. Which, of course, qualifies her to give authoritative information about KS's 4 and 5...

I think Ug's primary source is guido fawkes...