Shortly after the 2016 amendments to the assessment of Personal Independence Payments (PIP), a cartoon scolding the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) began doing the rounds on social media. In it, a figure sits behind a desk declaring: “If they drown, they need PIP. If they float, they weren’t ill.” whilst a woman is dragged out of the office by her hair. Accompanied by the caption “Conservatives Disability Policy”, the illustration caught a lot of online attention for this comparison of the DWP’s practices to those of the elementally evil Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. Some found it an absurdly distasteful comparison; others deemed it a justified piece of satirical exaggeration. But as Amie M Marie deftly exposes in her new play Scrounge, the cartoon was barely hyperbolic in its analogy.
After the government’s U-turn on GCSE and A-level moderation, widespread celebration has broken out among student and teaching communities alike. But, drowned out by the cheering, a yet unsolved problem remains: the injustice and uncertainty for those taking BTECs, who have been left behind in the race to secure places at chosen further and higher education institutions.
Last week, young people across Scotland reached the end of years of schooling and were presented with their final grades. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these results were based not on a summer exam series, but on predicted grades from teachers and subsequent moderation by examining bodies. As many as a quarter of grades were lowered, hitting working-class pupils in poorer regions and schools the hardest. Further south, A level and GCSE students are still awaiting similarly-calculated results, due for release on the 13th and 20th of August respectively. But, with individual pupils’ futures at the mercy of wildly varying school averages, the most disadvantaged students are facing even more barriers to higher education.
By Howard Green
Tony Blair, upon his election into government in 1997, famously declared that his top three priorities were “Education, education and education”. At the other end of the century, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed that education that didn’t teach about life and politics was indeed a “hypocrisy”. Education has been a central focus of politics for over a hundred years, and today is no different. As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted conventional ways of learning for many, the modern British educational system needs short term and long term reform if it is to adapt to the issues of the 21st century. With the advent of Zoom lessons and online assessments, now is the time to explore the full potential of digital technology as the new frontier of education.
By Dan Davison
Examinations are woven into the fabric of student life. From the ‘Key Stage’ National Curriculum assessments I sat in childhood through to the tests I took as a Master’s student, every stage of my education has known the familiar cycle of revision, testing, marking and grading. It was not until I became a precariously employed university tutor that I realised how dangerously uncritical we are of that cycle. By this point it seems so natural to make people sit exams at various points in their lives that it scarcely occurs to the public consciousness that students and teachers might be better off without such a regimented approach to learning.
by Alice Thomson
cw: mentions of suicide
Hurray, 2018 is upon us. January always seems like a month of reflection and contemplation to me, mainly because nothing much happens, and most people are recovering from December. Although, I feel this way as I type, there is a niggling dread at the back of my mind for 2018. I’m probably not the only one that feels this way. A new year invites new opportunities, but it also means that these openings provide an element of risk or failure.Continue Reading
by Bradley Allsop
CW: mentions sexual harassment
A teacake and a portable phone charger. Unlikely objects to trigger a tirade against the state of academic practices in the UK, but here you are, about to read one anyway.
By Alex Powell
Perfectionism may seem like a fringe issue – a few of us are self-proclaimed perfectionists, but that’s just a personality trait, right? Maybe not. Issues of perfectionism have had a dramatic impact on my studies, and I have seen it increasingly manifested amongst the students around me. It is a key indicator of many other issues which students face in the modern university environment.
by Philippa Costello
Any third year undergraduate with a pulse will be aware of the impending juggernaut that is the National Student Survey (NSS). If they are not aware, they almost certainly will be soon. The months of phone calls, posters, and haranguing at every possible opportunity will see to that.