Confusing? Unhelpful?... A rethink is needed

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By Tim Carroll, Vandyke Upper School headteacher and chairman of the Leighton Buzzard Headteachers’ Group...

I am reading that the Ofcom regulator has said that many consumers are bewildered by the packages available for accessing TV and online media services. The fragmented market and way that companies promote their bundles is leaving many confused.

I feel relieved that somebody has at last come out and said this. It means that I can now say, “I too am confused”.

But it is not so much the plethora and complexity of multi-media options that has left me confused, rather the changes announced week after week that will affect children’s work in schools.

To be honest I don’t care a great deal about TV, satellite, cable, online and multi-media deals – I have little inclination to watch these channels, no wish to play the games and am quite satisfied with my existing choices thank you very much.

If I can find time to read my newspaper and occasionally venture out to a cinema then I think I have done well!

Making time to be “entertained” or grapple with “pay-TV subscriber premium products” is a bridge too far.

But the complexity of changes coming to curriculum and assessment that will affect staff and students matters a great deal to me. This I do care about.

I will be so bold as to assert that schools are expert in managing change – we have had enough practice after all – but the fresh waves of legislation and proposals for reform are leaving most schools breathless and, yes, confused.

Breathless at the pace of change and confused about the purpose and unhelpful timetable.

To be clear, every GCSE course is being re-written and the grading moved from the A*-G scale to 9-1 (note that this entails an 8 point scale morphing into 9). On top of this all A-level courses are being re-written and AS-level and A-level separated.

The phasing takes place over the next few years starting from 2015.

One consequence of this plan is that students sitting GCSEs in summer 2017 (current Year 9 students) will receive some grades of A*-G and some on the numerical 9-1 scale.

For Sixth Form students some courses will have AS-levels that contribute to the final A-level result and some will not.

For many of us this is, if not confusing, at least unhelpful and needs an urgent re-think by all involved.