Up Front 10/12

Recent headlines citing a survey carried out by ‘Love to Learn’, a new online learning website, declared that middle age doesn’t begin until we are 55. Presumably for anyone under that age that’s good news. The same survey has concluded that old age doesn’t begin until we are 70—again, great news for anyone not there yet. However the main point of the survey was to try to understand people’s educational interests at different stages of their lives and one question asked what gave people of a certain age an appetite, or a lack of appetite for learning. Fourteen per cent of those who failed exams in their youth said it put them off learning until now (several decades on) and a further five per cent of those who failed felt dubbed a failure. Many still blame the experience for negatively impacting on their thirst for knowledge. Looking at the results of this survey, it’s easy to see why so many teachers are up in arms about the recent GCSE grading debacle. Many students received lower grades than expected because grading levels were changed after the papers had been checked. The resultant uproar led to the re-grading of GCSE English exam papers for pupils in Wales and thousands of them have had their grades raised. However the decision not to allow the same re-grading for 84,000 students in England has added another level to what is gradually being seen as a farce, and opened up plenty of opportunity for political sniping between the Education Secretary Michael Gove and his Welsh counterpart. If the results of the ‘Love to Learn’ survey carry through to the current situation, thousands of children will have lost their enthusiasm and thirst for learning and many will be put off for life. On the surface it is starting to look like another case of politics before people instead of politics for people, whilst below the surface… well, it doesn’t look much different.