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The Heartache of a Parent Governor

This week, in my role as a School Governor, I have had the privilege of sitting in on meetings with Department Heads as they look at exam results following the recent prelims for Years 11, 12 and 13.

The common theme is that the teachers are doing the best they can, especially with Year 11 and 12, given that they have no resources and very little in the way of guidelines relating to the new curriculum and exams which have been introduced by the Government.

And as a parent of a Year 11 student who is taking the new style English and Maths GCSEs this year, I am seeing things from that perspective too. My son was freaked out by the recent preliminary paper for maths, because it was so different to anything they have ever seen before.

So we have students who are worried and teachers who have very little reassurance to offer because it is a whole new system and there are no precedents, or past papers…or sample questions! Teachers are being expected to deliver a curriculum blindfolded – so how are they supposed to help their students prepare for the exams?

Our children’s future is likely to be effected by these changes – and the current Year 10-Year 12 are the years most likely to suffer the consequences of Government policy which has been driven through too quickly and despite expert advice to the contrary.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for change and I am willing to take risks…and the UK is hardly top of the league tables for education, so something has to happen. However, if I make changes and take risks that may impact on others, I’d like to think I

  • consider the impact of my decisions on others (perceptual positions)

  • choose a realistic time frame that can be managed and is both achievable and sustainable (well formed outcomes)

  • ensure that no one group is disadvantaged by the change (ecology check)

And if I do have to make changes that will negatively impact on anyone, then I do my best to ensure there is a plan B to mitigate the effect. Let’s hope the Ofqual regulators have a plan B for this whole cohort of students, who may be disadvantaged by the changes!

These changes reach far wider than my child or our school, yet as a Parent Governor, I wonder what part can I play in ensuring the impact on our young people is minimalised…and that the decision makers (DfE) are held to account?

Now, in comparison to world peace, current US and Brexit politics, this topic may be immaterial to a lot of people…and yet it is important to me.

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