Our younger son is closing in on his final GCSE (general certificate of secondary education) exams, and recently brought home his 'long report' which provides parents with the following information for each subject:
- How your child is performing in terms of his/her attitude/behaviour in class, effort and homework completion - these are subjective scores allocated by the teacher on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being poor and 5 being stellar
- Your child's target grade and how he/she is currently performing against that
- A paragraph of reflection by the teacher: areas for improvement and so on
I don't understand why this all has to be done now. Surely it was known from day one when he joined the school two years ago that he was going to need to make up the extra year in subject Y? Surely that work could have been spread across two years rather than being crammed into these last few weeks? Surely it was evident months ago that the entire form was falling behind on subject X? Why does it all have to be done now? Especially since they are also frantically trying to raise several thousand Pounds for a school trip to Ecuador (anyone got a small fortune going spare?) in the summer.
My son's tutor remarked that he appeared to be showing signs of the strain of the additional workload and needed to find ways to break it down into manageable chunks. I commend her for her insight into his character, but I'm not sure what the poor kid can do.
In the context of all of this, one particular piece of feedback had me reaching for my poison pen. In subject X, my son's predicted grade is a B. His scores for attitude, homework completion and effort are all 5s. His recently submitted coursework received an A grade. The short paragraph from the teacher started "Your coursework was disappointing..." Excuse me? This is a model student who is outperforming his predicted grade and you are disappointed?
My son is talking about taking the work back and tweaking it so that he can get a better A or an A*. My advice to him is to let it be. He has enough else on his plate right now, and that A is in the bank. But the school is encouraging him to try to up that grade.
I know of another school where several kids are being pressured to resit a maths exam in attempt to up their grades from A to A*.
I'm casting about for a word to describe this and I'm tempted to go with iniquitous. What are we doing to these kids?