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Some GCSEs harder

ASCL vented its frustration in the press in February over the slow pace of change regarding the relative level of difficulty of GCSE and A level exams.

A QCA report on 21 February said that, while there were differences in some subjects, it was not so severe as to warrant taking action.

On the BBC Online, Martin Ward responded that school and college leaders, as well as students, knew that exams in all subjects were not equal. He added: "Relatively small differences in the nature of the questions asked can have a big effect on the difficulty of the examination for the student."

In response to another QCA report specifically on severe grading of modern language GCSEs, John Dunford said in the Telegraph, "It is extremely disappointing that the QCA, while recognising the problem, does not intend to bring the grading of GCSE languages into line with mathematics, English and other similar subjects."

ASCL's view also appeared in the Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, Sun, Eastern Daily Press and Manchester Evening News.

Culture overdose

The DCSF's announcement of an entitlement to five hours of culture on 12 February came under sharp criticism from ASCL for being unrealistic. On the BBC 4 Today programme, John Dunford said: "Many activities are already offered in schools - music, drama and so on - but I don't see how schools can offer an entitlement of five hours of cultural activities plus the five hours of sport, plus the new requirement for community cohesion, plus give them their lessons at the same time."

IT disaster warning

Plans to introduce the unique learner number (ULN) raised concerns about the government's ability to keep student records safe in an online database. John Dunford said in the Telegraph and the Times: "Given the government's track record of IT disasters and the possibility that all these children's records will end up in Iowa, this is a worry."

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