Pot holes annoy me, John Bishops lairy blokiness instead of Graham Norton's waspish acid bath on a Saturday morning infuriates me, no Gooseberries at the local Farmers market; August, can be an irritating month.
August though is the month when irritation levels reach fever pitch and no matter how urgent the news elsewhere; Ebola, War, Cruelty of unspeakable levels are brushed aside to bash education.
A level and GCSE results are out soon and the perennial battle between Good and Evil sans George Lucas, pervades our senses. Have standards fallen, have they risen, are students brighter, is teaching better, is learning greater?
Data, if you need it http://www.bstubbs.co.uk/a-lev.htm and http://www.bstubbs.co.uk/gcse.htm and http://www.bstubbs.co.uk/new.htm is here, good data too and the answer seems clear.
Does that ‘data’ answer our questions? Does it tell us about the students, their individual battles, their exceptional determination to achieve? Data is an integral part of education; the Ying to our Yang but it’s a small part.
These things I know; I’ve been privileged to teach students of all abilities. I’ve spent time in PMLD and LLDD areas where measuring the ‘achievement’ of a nonverbal, wheelchair bound student involved me learning how to interpret miniature facial movements and a slightly different smile. I’ve seen students whose main achievement over a year was to turn up on time, sober; others whose main achievement was to not thump someone when they got a sum wrong. Students on A level and BTEC programmes struggling to balance work, study, family difficulties and issues that would fell many adults.
Achievement, so easily measured in a spreadsheet, splashed across the news and dismissed by myriad experts in a miasmic ‘kill fest’ of standards bashing, doesn’t cover their achievement; nor does it recognise the huge and largely unsung heroics of the teaching staff who produced the GCE and GCSE success alongside other, less newsworthy but more heart-warming achievement.
So this year, celebrate the top line and admire the achievements but ignore the ‘bashers’, those politicised death-eaters who are flown out yearly to suck the joy from the students’ achievement.
Remember that under each column lies thousands of individual success stories that defy categorisation but tell a greater story of college success. The determination of teaching and lecturing staff, in partnership with a student cohort that took advantage of every opportunity we gave them.
That’s the success story.