Letters - Wednesday, August 11, 2021

It’s vital for exams to get back to normal

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 3:45 pm
Students finding out their results

The severity of the pandemic has caused serious problems for our economy, indeed for the global economy.

Arguably, its impact on this country’s education will prove to be even more severe and longer lasting.

For two years now GCSE and A-level examinations have been scrapped. Grade boundaries and grades have been decided by teachers, the majority of whom are not trained in this skill. In some cases they have used tests, coursework or mini-exams to help them set grades.

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But irrespective of these, grades have been decided essentially on the basis of personal judgement. Much high level research over several years here and in the USA indicates that accurately forecasting what students at any level will get in examinations is well nigh impossible; there are far too many variables, far too many unknowns.

As a result, grade inflation is commonplace.

This happened last year and will again this year. Teachers are human. They are under stress, have prejudices, have favourites, and are often under pressure from parents with sharp elbows. When in doubt, teachers invariably grant a higher grade. In so doing they are not doing the student any favours; on the contrary they are doing him or her a great disfavour.

Armed with a list of grades that are inflated students gain entry to A level or equivalent courses, top universities and jobs, only to find they are unable to cope. Time and a great deal of money is wasted as a result.

There is no doubt that students and teachers have had to contend with abnormal and difficult circumstances during the pandemic, but it is vital that examinations are restored without delay if grades are to have any legitimacy with universities and employers.

Dr Barry Clayton



Posters must mind their language

Am I the only one who is disheartened by the fact that social media are now more concerned with algorithms than language when it comes to users writing or typing text?

For example, a certain app does accept, er, ‘no’ for an answer when writing an abbreviation for ‘number’. Indeed, one gets really annoyed with that algorithm when, if one does write a period (.) after ‘no’ to mean ‘number’, it assumes this is the end of the sentence and ‘helpfully’ puts the next letter as a capital as the start of a new sentence.

Thus some writers have now given up and simply write ‘no’ when they actually do mean ‘number’ and thus causes confusion in the mind of the reader.

Then last week I had to read the drivel from some of your correspondents on Facebook, who are either ignorant or lazy or simply do not understand the concept of words which sound the same but have different meanings.

Thus, we had the curious example of one person writing, as they cannot distinguish between ‘are’ and ‘our’, ‘... are are ...’ instead of ‘... are our ...’.

Another poster wrote ‘there’ instead of they’re, leaving the reader to figure out just what they were trying to say.

While I accept that language is a fluid dynamic, the basics of the English language should not change simply because some people cannot grasp the concept of grammar, spelling or even, it seems, the meaning of simple words.

So, please, all you social media posters and others, write or speak Proper English, for some people may not bother trying to translate your drivel, and thus your point will be lost (in, er, translation?). You sound like the landlord in ‘Carry on Regardless’ played by ‘Professor Unwin’.


Via email


Forget opposing, work together

All politicians, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, should be working together as a team to get to grips with Covid-19. Just as politicians came together during the Second World War.

Meanwhile, what has Sir Keir Starmer done to deserve the accolade of a knighthood? The Labour Party really needs to be looking for new leadership and direction.

Mr PL Taylor

Address supplied


Code rethink is not enough for walkers

The recent announcement that the Highway Code is to be amended to provide better protection for pedestrians and cyclists in the face of Britain’s ever-increasing numbers of motor vehicles is to be warmly welcomed.

Yet it’s my belief that the code requires a complete rethink if walkers and cyclists are to be able to enjoy the region’s urban areas in safety.

Far too often, those of us who venture out and leave the car at home soon discover difficulties and obstacles in our way. Many of Britain’s roads and footpaths are a national scandal and disgrace.

Edward Grainger

Address supplied

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