Sunday, 23 September 2012

GCSE Fiasco Response

The NUT has come together with a number of other organisations to pursue a regrade of GCSE papers affected by the grading scandal (see here).

Meanwhile, it is important that we make MPs aware that this issue can't simply be brushed under the carpet and that, until their is justice for those whose results were arbitrarily changed, we will continue our campaign.

Below is a copy of the letter I have just sent to my MP, Nicola Blackwood. You can email your MP via this link here and sign the national petition for a regrade here.

Dear Nicola Blackwood MP,

I am getting in touch to let you know of my concerns about this year’s GCSE examinations.

As a teacher, I think it is entirely unacceptable and grotesquely unfair that exam boards changed the grade boundaries in such a way that many pupils who would have gained a C grade in January attained a D in June for exactly the same work.

This arbitrary shift has potentially changed the lives of hundreds of students, many of them in Oxfordshire, and, unlike their counterparts in Wales where the education minister has ordered regrading, they have no possibility of receiving the grade that they earned. In addition, a number of teachers with GCSE classes have failed to meet the targets set jointly by themselves and the school, purely due to this change, and may be held to be underperforming where, had the goalposts not been shifted, they would have been judged as good. This may well have a damaging impact on their careers.

Finally, a number of schools (over 100 nationally) will fail to meet the floor targets as a result of this arbitrary and politically-influenced decision. Schools which otherwise would be recognised as doing the best for their students and supported to improve, will be put through a process of uncertainty and distrust. Having supported a number of schools through this process locally, I can assure you that, in the vast majority of cases, it does nothing to improve the experience of students or to enhance their learning.

If the speculation about the exam boards responding to political influence proves correct I think it is high time that assurances are provided that awarding bodies are able to act independently in the best interests of all their students when it comes to grading their examination papers.

I wholeheartedly support calls for an independent inquiry into the situation and an immediate regrade of the exams. Such quick and decisive action is needed if we are to restore confidence in the examination system for the new academic year.

I would be grateful if you could raise my concerns with the Secretary of State for Education and advise me of his response.

Yours sincerely,
Gawain Little

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Importance of Play

I have just come back from an excellent family day at Hill End Outdoor Education Centre.  Organised by Oxfordshire Play Association, there were a huge range of activities for children and young people of all ages.  Groups involved in running activities included Elms Road Children's Centre, Donnington Doorstep, Oxfordshire Parenting Forum / Dads Go Wild, the Earth Trust and Oxfordshire Outdoor Learning Trust.

My daughter Rosa says her favourite bit of the day was making tweeter birds with OYAP (formerly Oxfordshire Youth Arts Partnership).

The atmosphere was fantastic and attendance looked excellent.  Having never been before, I was blown away by quite how many people are brought together by events like this.

It also made me reflect, both as a teacher and as a parent on the importance of play and learning through play.  This led me directly on to whether there is more we could do as a union to support organisations like Oxfordshire Play Association and, crucially, centres like Hill End which provide such opportunities for outdoor play and experiences for our children.

If you have any ideas, please do email us at the usual address.

For more information on OPA, visit

For more information about the Oxfordshire Outdoor Learning Trust, visit

Friday, 14 September 2012

Non-Strike Action & NQTs

A busy week meeting with reps and preparing guidance on the NUT's non-strike action which starts on September 26th.

By cutting senseless bureaucracy and excessive monitoring, we will be freeing teachers up to do what they are paid to do - teach.

NUT and NASUWT school groups are now looking at how they can best implement the guidance in their school and what would make the biggest difference for students and teachers.

Very pleased to be working together to improve education for all.

Also, been busy helping to publicise the NQT seminars we are running next week.

Seminars will run from 4.15pm at:

St Birinus, Didcot (18th September)

Banbury School (19th September)

Cherwell School, Oxford (20th September)

and will cover a range of important topics for making the most of your first year in teaching, as well as having plenty of time to put questions to our experienced panel.

If you are starting teaching this term, book your place by emailing

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

GCSE Fiasco

Please sign the open letter to Michael Gove, demanding a regrade of the GCSE papers for students who were the victims of an arbitrary decision to raise grade boundaries -  Open letter to Michael Gove and Ofqual Petition | GoPetition.

For more information, check out the press release from the NUT on the latest revelations here.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Give us time to teach!

The National Union of Teachers announced today that it would call on members to take non-strike action from 26th September to defend their work-life balance and return the focus of the job to teaching and learning.  The Union has announced a list of uneccessary and bureaucratic tasks which teachers will boycot from 26th on an effort to make Education Secretary Michael Gove intervene over spiralling workload.