Friday August 14th, 2020

Well, “T” slept soundly in her nest on the bedding chest all night. She must have been tired after her adventure yesterday.

Reading about the English grading row this morning. This was a difficult and unprecedented situation, but . . . There is an overwhelming belief in English education governance that terminal examination is the only way to measure performance. This is false but is embedded in the national conversation because for years the printed media have attacked any form of progression through the introduction of coursework, assessed presentations, open-book exams etc as “making the exams easier”. The public, generally, believe how they were educated is better than schools now because it plays into the “better in the past, youth of today” narrative. Evidence doesn’t matter, appearance is what is important. Gove’s changes to the assessment system, the backwards step to remove coursework and school assessment components and place all on final examination has brought us to this point. 10 years ago, every subject had elements of coursework which would have been completed before lockdown started. These elements could then have formed the centre of awarded grades this year, with the teacher prediction and school ranking the confirmation. Instead, there is no formal assessment material as the grades should have been based on exams which didn’t take place. The model used for calculating these grades is based on historic performance of a school. Every teacher knows that every cohort is different and every student within that cohort is different. To base the results so heavily on past school performance immediately disadvantages the hardworking student from a historically low performing area and advantages the weak student in the historically high performing school. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this hands the best grades to Independent schools and schools in more affluent areas and downgrades those in poor areas. I’ve taught in independent and international schools since 1998. Such students are not automatically more able, they come from educated parents who often can afford to buy additional support. Such schools also tend to have smaller class sizes and better resources. The comments by the PM that “the system is robust and reliable” and the comment by the Education secretary that “raising grades will lead to a generation promoted beyond their ability” are appalling and an insult to all students in England who have been affected so badly by the pandemic. This fiasco is the result of a fundamentally flawed assessment system across education which has removed teacher and school involvement in final awards. It comes from a political ideology that only things that are quantitatively measurable have value. I don’t know what the solution is now, teachers in England are painted by press and politicians as incompetent wasters so the obvious answer of altering the algorithm to give more weight to teacher prediction won’t be accepted. This article from Sky is a really interesting analysis of the problem. It is the government’s responsibility now to accept there has been a mistake, investigate and offer a fair solution. The Scottish government recognised the same problem and, while their solution may have gone too far in the other direction, at least it enables young people to move forward to the next stage in their lives. If any individual has been over graded beyond their ability they will be found out at the next stage. My experience, though, is that if you give them the chance, they will rise to it. It’s those who are raised to expect the chance to be handed to them who tend to underperform.

Went for my bike ride after breakfast. I’ve done the same route 3 times this week. We exactly the same route (the one I filmed on Monday). The distance recorded on Strava on Monday was 7.8km, on Wednesday it was 7.5km and today it was 7km! How can I have lost 0.8km over the week? Very frustrating. Anyway, I made good time today so I’m pleased with the ride if not the recording!

I created an account with My Virtual Mission to track my exercise against the target I’ve set myself of travelling frmo Land’s End to Jon O’Groats. I wish I’d found this website at the start of lockdown! Anyway, I’ve added today’s cycle in to it which I record on Strava and at the end of every day I’ll add the totoal number of steps I’ve done which Samsung records anyway. We’ll see how I get on.

At 12 I took “I” to school then went to Tesco. We were planning to have Steak & Kidney pie for dinner tonight but, unfortunately, they had run out of kidney. One of the staff recommended I replace the kidney with black pudding and follow the rest of the reipe the same. She assured me it was delicious so we’re giving that a go. Back home for a quick lunch and to unpack the shopping then back to school to collect “I”. Back home to find “S” and “E” were still out with the dog so we walked back up the road to meet them. They saw a paraglider while they were out.

We played the Marvel game this afternoon.

As mentioned, tonight’s dinner is now Steak and Black Pudding Pie with chips and vegetables. It smells delicious and looks really good so, hopefully, it’ll taste as good. I could try this with haggis too if it works well.

It was really good. The black pudding made the pie filling really rich and the beef stock gave it a deep flavour. Lovely.

Tonight is film series night and we’re watching the second Starship Troopers.