Friday, February 13, 2009

Regrets? He has One.

I don't know why Professor Ian Smith should now regret the comments about Diplomas that he made, but apparently he does. Yet his original comments, though scathing, were not unfair. He said the Diplomas were 'schizophrenic' (they are certainly that, with their woeful mix of vocational and academic modules) and that the government should concentrate on getting GCSE's and A-levels right (shouldn't they just - these are the exams taken by the vast majority of England's students).

Professor Smith is the government's science education adviser, and his initial comments suggest a perfectly clear assessment of the government's abysmal attempts to mess around yet again with the exam system. The government sees the Diplomas as the jewel in the crown of their vision for secondary education qualifications. Most other people see them as an appallingly incoherent and inadequate attempt to get round the fact that exams are still too academically selective. The take-up of these wretched qualifications is far lower than hoped, and the universities are keen to ignore them altogether. So why Professor Smith's regret? One can only assume that his brief moment of clarity and coherence has come to the attention of his Children's Department bosses and that huge pressure has now been brought to bear to get him to suggest that actually, the Diplomas are a really good idea. After all, the reputation of a government and its wacky advisers depends on them.

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