Above average … for all?

I was catching up today with a very good friend who is a retired teacher.  I happened to mention that I had just read this article in the TES, headlined Labour to ‘guarantee’ C in English and maths. Now that would be something good … perhaps even miraculous? With the best will in the world, this seems at best an ill-advised statement to make. Whilst I am completely in favour of every child leaving school with a minimum level of literacy and numeracy, I cannot accept that a GCSE grade C is either the way to demonstrate this, nor achievable by all.

Mike Baker’s article from the ASCL conference in Manchester words it slightly differently:

A further question for the Labour Party’s policy review, he [Andy Burnham] said, would be how to ensure that all students reach adulthood with a ‘decent proficiency in maths and English’. He said he wanted a debate to see if it is possible ‘to have the ambition for all students to leave with at least a grade C in GCSE maths and English’.

I’m sure there are several people who would be willing to engage in this debate with the policy makers.

My retired friend said it reminded her of when she was a pupil at school, at a presentation event.  The local dignitary charged with handing out the awards praised all those who had been successful, and ended with the encouraging words “Now next year, I want to see all of you getting above the average.”

Now I don’t claim to be any kind of mathematician, but  I would love to know how he expected that to happen …


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