So paper 3 is done and dusted. ‘Tis done. ‘Tis finished. At just after 10:30 am this morning I could almost feel maths teachers everywhere breathing a massive sigh of relief. (I promise I will write up my experience of sitting the exam as an external candidate but time … you know! .. time … I don’t have any!!)
Anyway, we (I mean the UK’s maths teachers and students) have been on a hell of a ride for the last few years and today was a milestone that loomed in the distance to suddenly appear and now its gone. From my personal perspective there is nothing else we could have done for our students and there is nothing else that we could ask of our students … they have been superb! And I know lots of you will be thinking the same of your students too. We have lots to be proud of and have come a long way – since this GCSE was announced there has been blood, sweat and tears but also lots of laughs – I daren’t even imagine what it would have been like to have gone through this without the support of Twitter and other teachers – knowing that we are all in this together has been comforting. There is no doubt that this new GCSE is bigger, it’s tougher, it’s longer … it is as Gove originally wanted. I’ve always said that the principles behind the changes are honourable but this and the next few cohorts haven’t been subject to the changes at KS1 and 2 and so are at a disadvantage but from what I’ve seen and heard they have really stepped up to the plate. However, some of them feel as if their future is being “played with” and the pressure they are under is massive. They are fragile. The uncertainty that we’ve all been feeling will have rubbed off … it has to have done and no matter what we do to reassure them in schools there are outside pressures that we can’t control. The impact of the media and social media doesn’t help them either and I fear for the media frenzy in August!
We now have to wait as the papers are marked and no doubt there will be some post-mortems about decisions but for now we wait. I just now hope that the exam boards and Ofqual know what they are doing with regards the awarding process. I also hope that the whole process is transparent with regards publishing some decent stats on results day: I’d love to see … ummmm .. . actually I could come up with a half decent list of things I’d like to see (if any of the boards are interested!!) but I’d settle for information about the numbers and percentages of 3’s, 4’s and 5’s that are awarded on each tier from each exam board along with performance for each and every question on all the papers showing what the average percentage obtained was for students that gained each grade in relation to each question. You know I just said that we sit and wait? wellllll … I’m not very good at doing nothing so I’ve already started analysing the topic frequency on all the boards’ papers and I’m looking to see if the marks available on the crossover topics are as per the sample/spec materials that we’ve seen. I’ve also started putting together some support materials for these papers to help when they’re used for mocks next year and I’m going to put together some alternative versions (same questions with different numbers!) over the Summer because I know that students will get hold of these papers (if they are so inclined!) but at least they’ll be slightly different!
So teachers, I say to you: take a deep breath – the baton has well and truly been passed on.
And to the exam boards and Ofqual I say to you: Over to you guys now … please don’t feck this up! Get this right … there is no second chance!