Gove must listen to teachers on latest plans

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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Headteachers in Portsmouth are worried and rightly so.

They fear the latest government interference with how achievement is measured in our schools could be bad for some students.

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s English Baccalaureate (E Bacc) places great weight on youngsters getting an A* to C in English, maths, science, a language and a humanities subject.

While few would argue the importance of English, maths and science many teachers feel the government’s definition of a humanities subject is unfair.

Why should a child who chooses to sit religious studies (RS) miss out on the E Bacc while another who takes geography could succeed?

The new system ignores the fact that not all students are suited to the same subject.

While some youngsters may struggle with maths and science they could excel in art and music but Mr Gove appears to have no time for them.

Other subjects that can be of vital importance in the modern workplace, such as technology and ICT, are also out in the cold.

Yet such interference is nothing new for teachers and their pupils.

When GCSEs came in in 1997 the standard measure was five A to C grades. The bar was raised in 2006 with the ‘gold standard’ award for five A* to C grades including maths and English.

Staff have also seen the Contextual Value Added score, which combined grades and factors such as social depravation and prior attainment, come and go.

If it is not careful the government could get caught up with an obsession on how best to measure attainment rather than focusing on the job in hand.

The teachers who do that job should be listened to.

Locally and nationally politicians should take into account what the teachers are saying.

They have concerns about the E Bacc, not because it will mean more work for them or spending more money, but because they have a genuine concern that hard-working pupils could lose out through no fault of their own.