Qualifications for the class of 2021

Yesterday I raised in the Commons some questions about how exams should be set and marked and how standards of our main educational qualifications should be upheld for the class of 2020.

Ofqual has come up with ways of modifying the exams for next year to take into account the interruption to education experienced by pupils in some schools who did not teach a full timetable from March to September by on line means. It has also changed arrangements for field work and oral exams to respond to CV 19 social distancing rules.

As a result pupils will be offered more choice in content for the exams in History, Geography and Ancient History. In English literature pupils will be able to take three of the four blocs of work for the exam. Fieldwork in Geography and Geology will be dropped and the questions on it in the written papers. Foreign languages and English will no longer have a formal oral or spoken language requirement.

It is important next year that we get back to an exam based system. Ofqual and the Exam Boards are still considering what is best to do on dates of exams. Should they be a bit later to give schools more time to make up for lost teaching time this year? How much later can they go without jeopardising University entrance procedures?

I hope they work out a system which is fair to all students and upholds the standards established in past years. Next year they have to span the range from pupils who got a full education for the full syllabus between March and July to pupils who got very little formal education during lock down.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    The best system is just to publish the position of each student relative to others. Grade 1 for the top 5% and grade 20 for the bottom 5%. Remove the ability of the exam boards and politicians to fiddle the systems and devalue the grades.

    It seems that the grade inflation for A and A* grades 2020 compared to 2019 was huge at 50%. Clearly a sensible person assessing 2020 students should largely ignore these teacher assessed grades and just look back at their GCSE results. Or set their own exams. Medical schools should probably just use BMAT and UKCAT results.

    It clearly will be very unfair to compare the hugely inflated 2020 results directly with 2021, 2019 or other years results.

    • Andy
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      That wouldn’t work because how would you compare schools with each other? And how would you exclude the fact that an average school had an exceptional year?

      A headteacher I know explained to me why there was grade inflation this year. She said that in every class there will be a clear number of A grade students. A clear number of B grade students. And so on down. But there will also be a significant number of A/B students. Students who – if they have a good exam – will get an A. And if they don’t they will get a B. In any class there might be several of those students who sit between the boundaries.

      So the predicted grades show what a student could have got – but what they do not show, because they can’t, is which students would have had a good day and which would have had a bad day.

      I can confidently predict Liverpool and Manchester City will be the Premier League’s top two this season. But what comes next is an educated guess.

      I feel sorry for the kids and the teachers. Decent employers will cut them some slack. In any case when you have a degree, A levels don’t matter.

      • Nigl
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

        Good answer

        • Hope
          Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

          JR, I hate to break it to you but all big firms do their own testing not acting or relying on the fake exams or failed comprehensive system.

          Since 1997 education education education mantra of Labour and billions of taxpayers money wasted grades inflated will the sole aim to put huge numbers in university on crap courses to reduce unemployment and to help mass immigration get low paid jobs.

          Change the whole wretched system and bring back grammar schools into the mix to social mobility. The current system has failed, does not work and is nothing more than a baby sitting service.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            +1 and one that now continues at “university” for many students. Effectively raising the school leaving age to 22 giving students £50k of debt plus 6% interest for mainly dire and worthless degrees. In many cases lumbering tax payers with much of this soft debt.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        Of course it would work. The grades would be on the basis of students position among all the people who sat the exam. If any school had an exceptional year they would get higher grades and visa versa. You could easily compare schools accurately (though obviously some schools have better students to start off) but that is the same with any system.

        What is your logic here?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        A levels are perhaps more comparable than degrees. Particularly in subjects like Maths. How would you compare a 1st class degree from the ex-poly of say Bognor Regis in say feminist and media studies with a third from Cambridge in Nat Sci from a someone who perhaps spend most of his time acting or trying to become a comedian?

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        When it comes to Med School, trust me… even GCSEs matter !

      • Fred H
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        so you out of hand dismiss Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd, Leicester, Wolves and all other teams whi might do a surprise that does happen?
        It is the same with exams – pupils might get a C or D if the exams suits their studies, but a horror result if it doesn’t.
        Also some expected C might easily get A or B if the paper suits.

    • Stephen Priest
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      This year’s exam results have no value as they are based on guesswork.

      Money has no value anymore it the Daily Mail headline is corecct:

      Boris’s mass COVID testing moonshot ‘to cost £100BILLION’: PM’s plan to get life back to normal with 10 MILLION tests a day is forecast to cost almost as much as entire NHS budget – and experts warn it may not even be possible

      Freedom has no value

      What’s the point of having members of Parliament if they don’t protect their constituents form an overbearing Government.

      By now the Government must know that lockdowns don’t work.

      Peru went into lockdown 16th March – 911 deaths per million (the highest death rate in the world after San Marino)

      Brazil – no lockdown – 602 deaths per million

      Only 8 reported Covid death in the UK the day Boris Johnson decides to become Oliver Cromwell and threatens to ban Christmas.

      No doubt we should call his Covid Marshal social distancing clowns Oliver’s Army, but that sounds too friendly.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

        10 million tests per day.
        Wonder how they will deal with all those used swabs?
        Chuck ‘em in the sea?
        Who cares any more?

        Oh dear…wasn’t the next line in that song “Oliver’s Army is here to stay”?

        • Hope
          Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          Sweden appears to be doing fine as does Japan!

          There is no coherent reason for the utterly ridiculous announcement yesterday. Even left wing Sky was able to say 89% of people died were over 65years. How many of those 89% died with or from Chinese virus?

          Go to work, don’t go to work, go school don’t go to school, use public transport don’t use public transport, don’t wear a mask wear a mask. How about nannies and cleaners are they included this time?

          Shapps utterly useless I defending Abbot. Shapps aligning himself with ultra left wing Extinction Rebellion views!

          Abbot is a Roman Catholic and allowed to have strong conviction of his religious beliefs including those on abortion, homosexuality etc. Would Sky and the hard left make the same remarks/questions if he was Muslim? If Shapps genuinely believes climate change is man made then he has lost the plot. Certainly not fit to be in transport or forming policy. No wondoner cars sales plummeting like a stone (answers your blog JR) and the economy as well with fools like him in Cabinet. Tony Abbot needs to be made a Lord and put in Shapps place.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        +1 somebody has got to get a grip of this petrified Government. What are they really petrified of? The anger of the populace when they discover the price they have paid for 400 CV19 deaths?

        • Everhopeful
          Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

          Maybe why they are concentrating on breaking us down in every which way?

        • Fred H
          Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

          Boris’ grim experience fed by the SAGE types of advice has once again thrown the country into a frenzy of ‘every other person’ has the death virus. However the elderly are already taking personal measure to reduce risk down to the absolute bare minimum – and it clearly works.
          Spreading panic or fear that Government has lost its marbles must be reigned in!
          Conservative MPs must call a halt to this CONTINUING – else who will stop this George III madness?

      • Caterpillar
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

        Stephen Priest,

        You are correct. There is little correlation between lockdowns and covid death rates (whereas underlying health and treatment protocols do matter). There is essentially zero data to support a pro-lockdown position given the incalculable social damage, reduction of human rights and potential permanent/long duration economic catastrophe. The data is not, and has never been, good enough to support lockdowns. Beyond that enforced policies require growing threat, fear and punishment to continue their implementation i.e. the bads get worse but there are still no goods. In contrast, largely voluntary changes to behaviour are more sustainable and also less likely to change rapidly (so that once local community levels of immunity have increased there should not be any sudden and large spread which hinders the application of best treatment protocols).

        • Caterpillar
          Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          The positions of Johnson, Hancock and Sunak are not defensible. This then is a situationwhich naturally leads to Govt responses that stop questioning by other politicians and in particular by the population.

      • BOF
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        +1 I keep asking what MP’s are doing about this madness.

        • Enigma
          Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

          Me too BOF

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink


      • glen cullen
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        I give in – this labour government has won….everyday I wake up thinking things can’t get any worst – than this government makes a decision

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      There is no simple solution. The whole thing is an utter mess, and whatever approximations or estimates are used will mean that large numbers of young will suffer injustice and disadvantage.

      Too much attention was paid to loudmouths who wanted the pubs reopening, rather than to those who wanted to put in place measures to safeguard education.

      And we all know why.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        The same people who wanted pubs open also wanted education open.

        This disease is not the Great Plague and the high risk can be identified and shielded.

      • Peter
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Reading some of your comments has driven me to drink!

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Too much attention was paid to loudmouths who wanted the pubs reopening,

        Utter nonsense. There was very little clamour for pubs to reopen. What there was, what there ought to be, is an acknowledgement that we are a service based economy and if you stop people meeting, the economy will collapse.

        The reason for the first lockdown was to allow the NHS to gird its loins to avoid being overwhelmed. Nightingale hospitals were built in double-quick time – and never occupied. The NHS has basically closed to everything other than this bloody virus – so they have had 6 months to get ready. Why on earth are we having new lockdown type restrictions. Isn’t the sainted NHS ready yet?

    • Richard1
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Grade inflation is making A-levels meaningless. I think it would be best to abolish them and use the international baccalaureate which appears to be rigorous and is now more respected. GCSEs are a waste of time and should be abolished.

      • Richard1
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        T-levels can be maintained and built up for those who prefer vocational over academic qualifications. The govt should strive to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen with T-levels as has happened with A-levels.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Whenever I’ve spoken to groups of business people about my proposals for a radical rethink of our education system, I ask them what general (rather than technical) qualities they would look for in a young potential employee. They always come up with the same answers: the ability to read and write and do simple arithmetic, to be able to speak to others clearly either face to face or by phone, to be able to take a message and ask clarification questions where necessary, honesty, turning up on time every time… They never mention GCSE or ‘A’ level results.

      It is my view that academic qualifications are used as a rough filter by employers to bring a long list of applicants down to a manageable short list for interview which means that they probably miss some candidates who would perform much better.

      My daughter is sales director of a FTSE 200 company and tells me that no one has ever asked to see her university degree.

      Young people should be educated to be competent to deal with the modern world by, if possible, the age of 14. Thereafter they should be able to choose with expert help what they wish to learn be it academic, technical, sporting, art in any of its forms and so on.

      As a wise secondary school teacher once said:
      “Education in this country will never function effectively until pupils, at least at secondary level, can choose their areas of study and do not spend every day wastefully being forced to learn much of what they do not want to know.”

    • forthurst
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      My first employer in the computer industry did not have any formal educational requirements. Applicants had to pass two exams: one on abstract reasoning, the other arithmetic, with twenty minutes allowed for the first test of sixty questions and fifteen minutes for the second with fifty questions. This appeared to be as successful in selecting for aptitude as insisting on a relevant degree. Depending on degree course, the arithmetic test could be substituted appropriately.

  2. DOM
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    This is is the result of your party and your party’s capitulation to the parasitic public sector unions who saw CV19 as a means to reshape their world for their benefit will sacrificing the futures of those outside in the real world

    An incompetent government led by a politician who has royally deceived the electorate into believing he was the antidote to the authoritarian Left. How mistaken we were. He is Blair, Cameron and May on acid and then some

    I pray that at the next GE the electorate kick your party and that slime in opposition so hard that they implode into a black hole never to be seen again. Both parties have infected our nation with its leftist, authoritarian poison and left us exposed to State hate

    • Everhopeful
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink


    • JoolsB
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink


    • Donna
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Great comment. My sentiments exactly.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Believe me, if this were a real pandemic I wouldn’t want to meet ONE person, let alone six.

      And the government wouldn’t be suggesting it either.

      Boris has been hoodwinked into U turn after U turn and is under the full control of the Left if not a Lefty himself.

  3. Mark B
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    As the government has subcontracted out its role in education can we now please make all those working in the Department for Education redundant, and that includes the minister ?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Don’t think you need worry about that.
      Dare say Boris will close schools again and all education will go online.
      A few teachers may be employed? But most will be retired probably.
      “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.“ World Economic Forum.

      • Mark B
        Posted September 11, 2020 at 3:42 am | Permalink

        It would be hilarious if all these kids were forced to learn from home and their new teacher was someone from a Philipino call centre. All to save the taxpayer money. Which it does not.

    • Hope
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Mark, Totally agree. No more Czars, task forces, team leaders to deflect blame from inept incompetent ministers. Any minister who made such appointments should be sacked or resign.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    The justification for the initial lockdown was to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed – so what on earth is the justification for this new one? We have had only 80 Covid deaths over the past week, out of perhaps 11,000 total deaths for the UK. Far more now appear to be dying from appalling failures of the NHS in other areas than from Covid.

    Allister Heath is surely right today.

    Britain’s second lockdown will be more terrible than the first
    Schools may remain open, but new rules will be especially devastating for the country’s social fabric

    • agricola
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      I imagine that government’s worry is that they only have limited tools with which to contain Covid19 until a vaccination becomes available. The tools being used are those that earlier experience prove effective, confirmed by your figure of 80. They are avoiding 800. The one area of disquiet I have is the lack of testing particularly in terms of international travel. Testing at airports, on aircraft returning, and at GP practices or chemists seven days later could get overseas travel back to a state of normality.

      • villaking
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

        agricola – nothing has been “proved effective”. The deaths date indicates that infections must have been declining before we imposed mass house arrest, just as they always do. The overreaction to this relatively mild bug has been shocking. The government allowed itself to be swayed by popular opinion of people like Lifelogic yelling for a lockdown and we all now pay the price of the climate of fear this has instilled. Over half the population supports another lockdown because of this

      • Bill B.
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        So you are still spinning the fake news that lockdowns saved lives? Give up – people can now see the facts for themselves, once they look at international comparisons. Sweden without lockdown had a lower death rate than the UK with lockdown. US states without lockdown had a lower death rate than those with lockdown. Belgium and Peru have had some of the strictest lockdowns in the world, and also among the highest death rates. The wheels have fallen off your story, my friend, and it’s best to move on.

      • Hope
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        LL, the first has not finished. Govt has failed to get people back to work or footfall in shopping areas. The economy is tanking and Johnson is now adding to that problem.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      It is how they are psychologically breaking us down so we will accept whatever they have in store for us.
      Put on your mask and understand that there never were “conspiracy theories” because they were true. QED.
      How the MPs can just stand by …but then, that’s what they have done all along.
      Do they think they will be ok?

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      One school nearby the headmaster is positive the whole school closes.
      Any excuse to disrupt.

      • Nigl
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        There is an extraordinary trial at Coventry Uni with Vodafone using 5G to deliver interactive virtual reality training with their tutors in real time accessed from any laptop, tablet, smart phone etc.

        Potentially in a few years much of the physical infrastructure of schools could be redundant.

        Covid should be used as a catalyst to accelerate the opportunities this technology offers.

        Never an excuse to shut down schools again.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      LL you gave talked up all the deaths ‘with CV19 (perhaps)’ and supported the Govt hysteria. You need to get a grip before you can demand the Govt do. There have been sod all CV19 deaths this week! Less than 400 altogether (those who would have been alive today were it not for CV19).

    • jerry
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      @LL; “Far more now appear to be dying from appalling failures of the NHS in other areas than from Covid.”

      Not so much an NHS failing though, they work wonders with what they have, but a govt failing in not spending enough on the NHS. Funny how the right keep mentioning how much better private medicine is, well of course it is, its better funded and has a better staff ratio!

      As for any second Lock-down, no it won’t be devastating for the country’s social fabric [1], but it will be if some on the right carry on their ‘defeatism’ talk, the first Lock-down actually brought society together in more meaningful ways, when neighbours spoke over garden fences with people they perhaps until lock-down rarely saw, younger people offering to do a Covid secure shop for an older resident. Even the hard rights hated NHS clapping was likely not so much about the NHS but neighbourhoods declaring that “were all in this together”, the age of the self-obsessed Me! Me! Me! society is over and that scares the hard right, in the same way as the comradeship of trade unions scares them too.

      The nations “social fabric” is more than going to the pub, a coffee shop or the Cinema or gym etc…

    • glen cullen
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      UK deaths yesterday 8

      So the government decision yesterday wasn’t to reduce the death rate

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      The justification for the initial lockdown was to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed – so what on earth is the justification for this new one?

      Indeed. That point seems to have eluded everyone in our half-witted, supine media.

  5. formula57
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    CV 19 nor the social distancing rules do not prevent oral examinations for candidates in foreign languages. It is true though that the oral element of the exams has been thought to be a dissuading factor in students’ choice of subject to study.

    This looks like more nonsense from Ofqual that will undermine the worth of qualifications in the mind of employers and other third parties. It deserves credit though for knowing its market: Millennials will be quite happy so long as they are told they have done very well, are fantastic, and can be really proud of their achievements, however hollow.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:58 am | Permalink

      School children at present are not millennials they are called something else.

      Other than that, completely agree.

      • formula57
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:20 am | Permalink

        Thank you, yes, I learn they are Generation Z (aka Gen Z, iGen, or centennials), the generation that was born between 1996-2010.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      World Economic Forum has a big hang up about foreign accents and unconscious discrimination brought about by speaking differently.
      Probably why orals are being dumped.
      Are all our highly educated MPs ok with that?
      Or do they think/hope we will return to normal ( not “new speak“ new normal)?

      • agricola
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        The WEF did not invent this one, it has been the obsession of the British from well before I was a lad to well after I left school. I had a Chief Master who seemed determined to eradicate all traces of a Birmingham accent from his charges. Quite ironic, as he had an accent many of us thought originated in Liverpool or therabouts. Personally I like accents with a trace of origin, it adds oral colour. It is only when it is so marked as to be unintelligable, witness some in Parliament, that I feel a visit to a speach therapist is called for.

      • forthurst
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        We need to do the opposite of what is prescribed by international meddling organisations; they are all highly prejudiced against native populations (Europeans only, obviously) and want to enrich their countries with diversity.

  6. Nigl
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    An important topic but on a day when we have had the greatest attack on my personal liberties, when I have done zero wrong, much as a result of your governments sclerotic approach and failings, without any parliamentary scrutiny, indeed announced via Robert Peston with Hancock hiding, I would have preferred you to exercise your oft stated love of democracy and stood up for your voters, most of whom similar to me having slavishly followed your rules, and are now being shafted.

    • agricola
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      You seem to have a masochistic delight in being shafted as you put it, to emphasise your point. While you have sensibly done zero wrong, others as reported have done much the opposite. To curb their lack of thought for others the whole nation pays the penalty. Much as some might wish it, government cannot control individuals but it can try to protect the whole population from those individuals.

      • Nigl
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Agreed except the masochistic sleight but the government could have done a lot more to enforce its previous rules. In fact it did nothing and unlike you I resent having to suffer for it.

      • Mark
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        The government needs protecting from itself.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Much as some might wish it, government cannot control individuals but it can try to protect the whole population from those individuals.

        It’s about time people took responsibility for themselves. If you are old (I am) and/or have underlying health issues, YOU need to take CARE OF YOURSELF. You need to isolate. You need to get your shopping delivered (loads of volunteers doing that in my town). You need to tell your grandkids not to visit. If YOU are at risk YOU need to take care of YOURSELF and not expect young people to sacrifice their lives for you.

    • Bill B.
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      So would I. It’s time the men in grey suits came for Boris Johnson. Or will it be the men in white coats?

      • Fred H
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        First the MPs may have to consider ‘no confidence’ in elected leader and depose.

    • Andy
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      There was not a peep from you when free movement was stolen. A right for the majority – stolen by a government elected by a minority. An assault on the old and the bigoted against the young and open minded.

      And now you are whinging about only being able to meet 5 other people. Grow up.

      We wouldn’t be in this mess if you hadn’t voted for such an incompetent party.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        You need to accept the decision.

  7. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Reading the above I am shocked.

    We have been led to believe that home working teachers and their online teaching methods had worked. I understand how field trips may have to be changed but surely everything else should be the same if teachers have been productive.

    Could it be that there is merit in physical presence in all areas of society and we need to get back to a common sense normal as soon as possible?

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      A new twist on the working from home argument again.

      Why not simply ask the students to go into school on Saturdays of work and hour longer each day to make up the time.

      If we were running a project that was falling behind time we simply worked extra hours to make that lost time up, until we were back on track.

      Ah Teachers Unions again.

      Must not upset them, but what were they doing in the lockdown if as suggested pupils were not being taught.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Indeed. It is way to early to tell if WFM is good.

      The first generation WFM, who were already a probationed and known quantity have worked well, but will there be a drop in the quality of recruiting because of lack of face-to-face ?

      I’m sorry to go anecdotal again but the teachers in my close proximity seemed to have a hay day every day throughout lockdown. Picnics and buckets ‘n’ spades every day.

    • a-tracy
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      There are what about 10-20 Geography pupils taking A level max in each school/college, why not do Field Trips in their local environment, they could go off in pairs or their trio bubbles from school and do fieldwork and reports, they can monitor footfall. They all got to school on a bus together, hang out together all day this is all just bizarre.

    • glen cullen
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      The teachers. their unions and the media where falling over each other to tell us how successful the online teaching was – and the government spent millions providing laptop for everyone……was it all a lie

    • Mark B
      Posted September 11, 2020 at 3:48 am | Permalink

      Actually I am in favour of kids learning from home. Think about it ? No more school run mums clogging up the roads. No more screaming kids on public transport. Teacher’s jobs can then be outsourced to foreign teachers via on line from around the world. The breaking of teachers unions since, if the kids do not need to go to school and their teacher is somewhere else in the world and not a NUT member how can they blackmail parents and the government ?

      Brilliant !

  8. agricola
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    To help pupils catch up from a lack of formal education I would suggest where necessary the compression of holiday breaks and the delay of the start of exams by one month. Schools that do not already do so could utilise Saturday mornings to increase term time. In addition the BBC could be directed to offer education channels to broadcast lectures on a range of subjects at sensible times on Sundays.

    To those who might suggest that the above would be indigestable I would point out that life beyond education produces similar challenges. Not responding to them is an additional way of sorting out the good from the less so.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      But we will be in effective lockdown through Christmas – we may yet need to evaluate children who have never been to school when they enter the workplace if Boris continues in this lunatic manner.

    • a-tracy
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      You can bet your life privately educated children are doing proper exams if their school doesn’t offer it their parents will be going along to private institutes or strengthened alternative examinations to get their children an advantage.

    • Mark B
      Posted September 11, 2020 at 3:49 am | Permalink

      Make their day shorter and their week longer. 10 – 3, 6 days a week. Mostly at home via online.

  9. Sea Warrior
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    ‘Foreign languages and English will no longer have a formal oral or spoken language requirement.’ Just when one’s thinking that we have seen an end to stupidity in decision-making, this comes along. I remember my French oral, done decades ago. My examiner was more than 2 meters away, in a largish room. It was summer, so I think that the windows could have been open. Had it been necessary, the oral exam could have have been held outside in the FRESH AIR. And doesn’t ‘fieldwork’ take place outside in the FRESH AIR? Now, Sir John, would you kindly go on the attack. I’m reminded of that old saying: ‘Those who can do, and those who can’t, teach.’ Leftist influence in Education is being allowed to set the exams agenda.
    P.S. No mention of mocks!

    • a-tracy
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Exactly Sea Warrior!

  10. jerry
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    OT; The govts anti Covid-19 ‘strategy’ appear to revolve around the need to carry on having a “Pie and a Pint” and then trying to shut a now shattered stable door after the horse has bolted, hoping, on a Wing and a Prayer, that the now free horse dosn’t trample the (economic) harvest to much…

    • agricola
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Government is trying to get the economy re-started, pubs are just a small part of it, a user end of the alchohol and soft drink industry. The whole gamut of industry needs to be re-activated as long as it is safe to do so. Do not deride the effort because your well being is ultimately dependant on it. Government did the right thing at the outset in trying to keep elements of the economy liquid for months by throwing Miracle Grow at the Money Tree. That was a lifebelt not a for ever solution. A safe return to normality is now essential so we can start paying for the Miracle Grow.

      • jerry
        Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        @agricola; “pubs are just a small part of it, a user end of the alcohol and soft drink industry.”

        Other than what was already within the hospitality distribution system or could not be re-purposed/packaged when lock-down hit back in March much of their supplies would have ended up within either the retail sector or the catering sectors that worked through out the lock-down – including off-licences.

        The whole gamut of industry needs to be re-activated as long as it is safe to do so.”

        I agree, but it needs to adapt to the current and new normal, and yes some sectors might not be able to adapt, and thus they will need to remain shut, not just carry on as before. Many of the same hot-spots of infection are re-occurring today, having re-opened, as back in early March, if left unchecked that is the pathway to another national lock-down and the closing of the whole gamut of industry again.

        “Do not deride the effort because your well being is ultimately dependant on it.”

        WRONG, many peoples health is at risk from the govts clumsy efforts, we need a sustainable restart that fits the new normal we have now going forward, or at least until we have effective drugs treatments and/or vaccines to combat the Covid-19 virus.

        “for months [the govt threw] Miracle Grow at the Money Tree.”

        Except far to much has been thrown at our economic weeds, not the money trees, thus we have policy driven by the needs of coffee bars, fast-food outlets and other hospitality. £522m spent by HMT so people could eat-out on the cheap, and in what are by nature some of the least possible Covid secure venues.

        “A safe return to normality is now essential so we can start paying for the Miracle Grow.”

        Indeed but, as I said above, that is dependant on when (and perhaps if) drug treatments are found, until then being Covid secure is now “Normality”…

  11. Old Albion
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Perhaps today you’ll ask some questions about the PM/Hancock latest Covid panic measure?

    • jerry
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      @OA; Perhaps today those who carry on trying to deign CV19 will take heed of what the POOTUS has said about it in the last 48 hours, that he knew it was a deadly virus but wanted to stop panic setting in – so there you have it, the hard and far rights political hero admitting not only that CV19 is real but it is a real threat and so significant a threat he was afraid that some would panic.

    • glen cullen
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      ”panic measure”

      I see it as a panic policy

      • Mark B
        Posted September 11, 2020 at 3:51 am | Permalink

        Headless chickens do not panic. They just run round aimlessly 😉

  12. Everhopeful
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Well obviously.
    We will obey the globalist agenda and go in for all out online learning.
    Schools will be closed and used for housing.
    Children will be isolated at home and brainwashed via the internet.
    And NEVER exposed to wrong think.
    ( A great preoccupation of globalists).
    Shame on all in the Dead Parrot Parliament.
    The last we are likely to see?

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the future is home schooling, the schools are to be closed. This has been the plan.

  13. Everhopeful
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    From World Economic Forum.
    “ To achieve a better outcome, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism”.

    And there is plenty more.
    They plan to destroy everything.

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink


      Yes… This is just the start.
      The way it’s being played out with the UN intent on taking over, supported by socialists everywhere, we will certainly all be the effect of a deliberate destruction of anything we now recognize as good or worthwhile …. or as they will call it; The New World Order.

      Bang goes any hope of a decent future for the peoples of planet Earth

    • agricola
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      So what is your alternative. Sit back scratching your navel and hope for a miracle. All this cynicism is ever entertaining, but a list of positive, well thought out solutions would be welcome from time to time.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      There are too many people on earth, those who have had the virus or pretended to will escape the vaccine.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      They have deleted it now, but the Covid 19 action plan on the WEF strategic intelligence portal was a global cull of the elderly as too many women’s careers were being spoilt looking after them.

  14. Caterpillar
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Exams should not be delayed – Parkinson’s law should not enter any further into society.

    • glen cullen
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Agree – and Parkinson’s Law works best within the civil services, especially a highly unionist service

  15. Lifelogic
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Listening to Baron (Kim) Darroch of Kew just now shows us exactly what is wrong with so much of the UK’s civil service. Why on earth was this man given his posts and even put into the Lords?

    Charles Moore has it right in the Spectator:-

    Large parts of the senior civil service regard Brexit as almost illegal. Some of them regard loyalty to the EU as a higher duty than to the elected government they are paid to serve.

  16. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Boris can see the road ahead clear to a clean Brexit. As a Remainer I believe he is appalled. He had thought that his WA and surrender of NI and pending ‘Trade Deal’ would be a less visible May Deal.
    I think now that the continued government hysteria about CV19 is tempting the British to revolt so that he has an excuse to stop/delay Brexit again.

  17. Andy
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    It is interesting to hear all these Tory MPs taking aim at young people – as though this virus is their fault.

    Young people have no interest in the Tories and their failings. They have no interest in this incompetent, failed prime minister.

    They hear his bluster and carry on doing whatever they want.

    I listened to Johnson twice yesterday – PMQs and his news conference (held on a Wednesday so the headlines are not about his latest failure at PMQs). We are deeply unlucky as a country to have Covid coincide with a period of such failed government.

    With any luck the pubic inquiry will look also at how to clean up public life so we do not have so many useless people in it. Most of them in the Cabinet.

    • Edward2
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      You’ve got another 4 years yet.
      Keep on moaning .

  18. Jess
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The world that incompetent and corrupt politicians are making for the students will be very different from the one students are being prepared for. If this government continues with it’s obsession with a non fatal disease the economy will be so bad that the jobs will not exist to employ them. You and your fellow MP’s are destroying our children’s future Mr Redwood. Can you live with that?

  19. JayGee
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    “Foreign languages and English will no longer have a formal oral or spoken language requirement. ” The world has gone completely mad, and our government is leading the way to insanity. All those Nightigale beds will be needed after all, with the first 650 reserved for members of parliament.

    Off topic but serious question: can couple A meet with 4 people from household B for coffee one morning; then meet with 4 people from household C for lunch chez couple C; four from household D for afternoon picnic/tea in the park; four from household E for dinner chez E or even a pie-and-a-pint-in-a-pub; all in one day? (If they’ve got the stamina for all that.) Who knows what could be spread, apart from opinions about our incompetent government? But few can engage in any cultural events anywhere. When will you all turn your highly-paid brains to thinking about the Arts? Rather than your current obsession with the three ‘p’s: a pie and a pint in a pub. Another slogan in waiting?

  20. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I have no confidence in this government to do anything except to continue to take away our liberties and freedom whilst they move remorselessly towards a police state and dictatorship.
    Our Parliament and MPs have ceased to function in anything but a perfunctory way. Our democracy is dying along with those whose health has been put secondary to CV19 and the economy without which we shall all suffer even the National Covid19 Service which has been put in place of the National Health Service.
    George Orwell’s 1984: “There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

  21. Fred H
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Did anybody raise questions regarding the teaching unions position on return to classroom teaching? Can and should teachers wear PPE? Can pupils elect to also wear it?
    Will parents, responsible adults continue to stop at school entrances, and therefore not be permitted to enter school grounds?

  22. Bryan Harris
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    In education there seems to be an attitude of just allowing the virus to take over and water down potential… Surely this is unacceptable.

    Why hasn’t something been done to bring students up to steam on where they should be – Where are the intensive lessons required to stimulate and innovate?

    Students need to be encourgad to learn on their own, to make an extra effort, to be responsible for their own progress. Schools SHOULD be providing extra classes.

    The exam board by watering down requirements will forever help to reduce certificates to totally pointless, enhancing what blair started in producing whole groups of people with fantastic qualifications who yet cannot think for themselves or know what they were supposed to have learned.

  23. a-tracy
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Why can’t foreign languages have a spoken element, how ridiculous! These teens record themselves on their phones all the time, a simple set up to record them with the teacher behind a plastic screen or speaking to them through zoom, believe me, if you are zoom interviewed by a German they want to hear you speak and able to hold a conversation with them. The Goethe Institut is safely holding languages with an oral element if our clever educationalists can’t work out how to do it ask them.

  24. Ginty
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    “Qualifications for the Class of 2020”

    Ah. That’ll be the the certificate awarded to politicians after lessons in unconscious bias and newspeak from a blue glove puppet. Had your conversion yet, Sir John ?

    Who’d have thought that Big Brother would be brought to us by ‘woke’ ?

    It really is no coincidence that a raft of extreme Left wing measures are coming in with the CV 19 crisis. This is being used to full effect.

    And it is now widespread belief in the printed media that Boris is mentally ill.

  25. David Williams
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Have the class of 2021 students been asked their opinion? I guess not.

    My 17 year old son and all of his friends do not want exams to be delayed. They do not want another fiasco with delayed results, spurious grades and disrupted university entries. They want a return to normality, with normal exams.

    Removing elements of the exams devalues the qualification. Removing spoken language requirement is pathetic.

  26. Mark
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    What we need is a plan to ensure that those who have been short-changed get the opportunity to catch up in full. That means a combination of speeding up the rate of teaching, which has fallen dramatically in our grade inflated dumbed down system, and offering a raincheck to be cashed in later to make up the missed ground and to offer worthwhile qualifications.

    It would be a good idea to start thinking about reallocating educational resources towards evening classes and sandwich courses, and away from useless degrees.

  27. Caterpillar
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Aside: Well played Cambridge University

    Again yesterday I mentioned pooled testing (http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2020/09/09/a-new-commuting-model/#comment-1151895) having first wondered noted this early April (https://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2020/04/04/supply-chains-and-interruptions-to-output/#comment-1102757).

    So, today it is reported in the Mail that Cambridge Uni will be using this approach; “Sample swabs, from the nose and throat, will be pooled by college household, allowing the university to reduce the number of tests required to some 2,000 per week. If a pooled household test is positive, students in the household will be offered individual tests.”

    Well played Cambridge.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted September 10, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      The reason I keep mentioning the pooled testing is that the whole country can be tested.

      If the lab part of testing is sensitive enough then dilution is O.K. e.g. if one positive swab is mixed with 9 negative swabs then the test will still identify cases at roughly the same false negative and false positive rates (this is the question but the fact that Cambridge University are going to do pooled testing is a positive indication). This would mean the problem of testing everyone moves from an n-squared to 2n problem.

      Imagine 100 people need to be tested i.e. 10 squared people. If only individual tests are viable then 10-square (i.e. 100) tests have to be run. If pooled tests are viable then write the names of each person on a 10 by 10 grid, split each person’s swab into two and put into one row group and one column group. Run 2 times 10 (i.e. 20) tests. If, for example, one row and one column come back positive then isolate the person at the intersection.

      The issues are test sensitivity to dilution and then logistics, not lab capacity (26 squared time 100,000 is about the population of the country). The question still remains has pooled testing been considered, at least at a city level if not the country – surely this is low earth orbit not the moon.

      • Fred H
        Posted September 11, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        If you seriously want to test 67m, and at what frequency, that is foolish, impractical (unless you organise the extra 3m umemployed to help), and is uneconomic.
        As you know the test is worthless say 3 days later.
        Quarantine all positives regardless of accuracy? Retest all those negative every 3 days?
        The logistics would likely produce more positives than doing nothing in the first place.

  28. Anonymous
    Posted September 10, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Sterling is collapsing

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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