Decarbonise and Decolonise – An Elitist Campaign from UCU & SOS

Writing for Don’t Divide Us, Alex Standish considers the ways in which a seemingly well-intentioned campaign by Students Organising for Sustainability and the University and College Union is actually elitist, anti-democratic and, if successful, likely to make lives worse for many who are already disadvantaged.

The first question to ask is why are a group of students and the largest lecturers union in the UK seeking to use their campaign to ‘transform how and what we learn’ in schools and universities rather than raising awareness about these political issues? Their approach implies that there is something wrong with our current curriculum, even though students already learn about climate change and Britain’s colonial past in school subjects. Secondly, why would they put forward such as campaign without discussing the potential for indoctrination (tying learning to political outcomes) which will undoubtedly compromise the educational mission of schools and universities?

Read on at Don’t Divide Us.

The place of public examinations in future school assessment

Education Forum members Alex Standish and Dave Perks, writing in Impact, the journal of the Chartered College of Teachers…

In 2021, most public examinations for GCSEs, A-levels and vocational qualifications have been cancelled for the second year running, meaning that teachers will decide what grade students receive. In place of exams, teachers will design their own summative assessment tasks, which may include questions and short papers set by examination boards. It is quite likely that when we emerge from lockdown and school closures, the assessment and qualification system will be different. Here, we explore the positives and negatives of the current role of exams in the school system. Below, we make a key distinction between the educational value of exams and their misuse for wider school accountability purposes. We recognise that exams have their limitations and we propose ways in which they can be improved. However, we make a case that public exams need to be retained as part of the post-lockdown assessment and qualification system because they play an important role in young people’s education and they contribute towards a more meritocratic society…

Read the full article at Impact.

GCSEs 2021 – Why formal exams should go ahead this year

In the midst of a public health crisis, we need formal exams more than ever, argues Alex Standish in the Education Forum’s regular column for Teach Secondary magazine…

Following a year of school closures and mass self-isolation for health reasons, students in Y11 and Y13 have experienced unprecedented disruption to their GCSE and A Level courses.

Does this mean that next summer’s examinations should be cancelled? If they are, how can we avoid a repeat of last summer’s ‘teacher-assessed grades versus algorithm’ farce? How should we assess students’ achievements when their education has been disrupted to such varying degrees?

See TeachWire for the full article.