In the run up to A-Level results this week, the Tories were determined to reassert the importance of exams. The pandemic saw exams cancelled and the right don’t like that. They want the mechanism to select, divide and fail students restored.
Tory schools minister Will Quince plans to “move back to a position where qualifications maintain their value”. This means no to course work and teacher assessed grades, and yes to traditional tests. As with every other aspect of education, exams put working class children at a disadvantage.
A few will filter through into higher social levels, as without this opportunity the narrow ideology of progress would collapse. But according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies the attainment gap between poor and rich students is just as wide now as it was 20 years ago. The report says, “16-year‑olds who are eligible for free school meals are still around 27 percentage points less likely to earn good GCSEs than less disadvantaged peers.”
Any fall in A-Level grades will be used to claim that the lack of exams during the pandemic gave students an easy ride. In reality, lower grades would demonstrate that exams are a mechanism to impose wider class inequalities. The Tory attacks on students should be the spark for class anger, and a war against capitalist inequality in education.
Union leaders have been silent