It is not everyone who pines to hear more from politicians, but I should like to see more of that shy, elusive creature, Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary. A couple of weeks ago, Mr Williamson announced that Ofqual, the exam watchdog, would cancel GCSEs and A-levels and replace them with a combination of teacher guesses at pupils’ likely results, previous work, mock results and the school’s past performance. To complicate things further, teachers have to rank each pupil within each grade.
This manages to be both convoluted and unjust. The GCSE candidate in my family sailed through his mocks on the basis that they didn’t really count. April Fool! For those candidates – that would have been me, once – who were banking on a last minute sprint to get to the finish, it’s a shock to find that the rules are changed retrospectively and guess what? Those mocks do count after all, not to mention homework. Hah!
However, Mr Williamson did say that “some students will feel that they would have done better had they had the opportunity to prove themselves in an exam rather than relying on teacher judgements to calculate their grades … Students who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their ability should be afforded an opportunity to sit an exam.”
Right. It is a reasonable surmise that schools could re-open by the end of May. In which case, it would be possible for exams to be scheduled for those who want them for the end of June – the school year ends mid-July. That would enable pupils who want a proper objective result, rather than guesswork by teachers (who have a rubbish record in predicting results), to sit an actual exam only a few weeks later than they planned. But these things need lots of notice. Time for Mr W to emerge from isolation and take a lead.
Digital prayer is no substitute for the real thing
How was your virtual Easter religion三级成人视频 then? I spent Holy Week hopping from one church site to the next – sometimes thwarted by links that didn’t work, buffering at the worst moments and microphones that worked for one celebrant but not another. The Farm Street Jesuits made heroic efforts but at one point the priest appeared to be simultaneously at the lectern and the altar. The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a service from his kitchen, which was odd, since he and Mrs Welby could have had all of Lambeth Palace chapel in which to socially distance.
What’s really sad is that laypeople couldn’t just sit quietly in a place of worship, because both Catholic bishops and the CofE have shut the churches and thus designated them as "non-essential" service. If my local church in Ireland can keep open, with umpteen precautions, why can’t the Established church here do the same?
Bond, Jane Bond
Fiona Shaw, of Killing Eve fame, says James Bond should be a man: “I don’t think equality means that everyone plays everything all the time”. Could she tell the BBC? Radio 4’s recent dramatisations of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and The Mysterious Island inserted female protagonists into both, which weirdly unsettled the dynamic.
The only useful thing I’ve done since lockdown has been to watch Alec Guinness as George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People. In some episodes there weren’t any females at all, but it didn’t matter. Those BBC series have never been surpassed.