GCSE Crisis- Britain’s Youth Deserve Better

Anthony Parker 

Image © Kewima

In Gehenna they sacrificed their children to appease ancient gods,
By fire to reverse their fortunes by miraculous odds.
Millions on the dole queue stuck in the mire,
Amidst the doom the only light is that of the funeral pyre.
Cuts here and there, cuts everwhere to put the books in order, yet the young lead to Gehenna, lambs to the slaughter.
A price worth paying for fantasy growth to be higher,
in Gehenna they sacrificed their youth upon an open fire.
No hope, forget Jerusalem built upon this green and pleasant land,
In Gehenna they took the youth by the hand and fed them to the fire!

I start this post with one of my poems ‘Gehenna’, a story of blow after blow being laid upon the young. However this is no fantasy dystopia, this is modern Britain, a place where even qualifications don’t seem to help, if you’re lucky to be awarded them that is.

Nearly a week after the GSCE results were released, the row over the results is intensifying as head teachers are pressing for this summer’s English GCSEs to be regraded amid a row over grade boundaries, with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) estimating that more than 10,000 teenagers in England and Wales received worse results than merited.

The results – in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – show a fall in the proportion of GCSEs awarded an A*-C grade across all subjects for the first time since the exams were introduced 24 years ago, however the results for the English GCSE caused particular alarm. Teachers have stated that they believe pupils had been marked too harshly and too few had achieved an expected C grade. But more shockingly, some have said that pupils who would have got a C if they had sat their GCSE in January, only got a D in June  for exactly the same work,  which has prompted accusations of grade boundaries being deliberately raised to satisfy Mr Gove’s avowed aim to make exams tougher. 

I sat my GCSE’s 5 years ago, and contrary to what certain politicians with certain agendas say, i can assure you, they are quite rigourous, and we do work our socks off. I have no doubt these pupils have similarly worked their socks off too. This is why this shambolic situation needs to be looked into. Under no circumstances should the goalposts be moved within a couple of months. Under no circumstances should exam boards be placed under pressure from Whitehall to cut the numbers of people passing with a C grade. We definately need to have an enquiry into this, as our young people deserve better. Young people are finding life very tough right now with, youth unemployment at record highs, without also being cruelly robbed of a grade they worked so damn hard for.

* Anthony Parker is a Labour member and the author of a collection of poems, called ‘Finding My Voice.’

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