Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Dr Roger Taylor

The views expressed below are entirely my own and not necessarily endorsed by my current or past employer.

As a former teacher of mathematics and a current PGCE tutor I watched, on the Parliamentary channel, some of the recent questioning of Exam Board Heads on Exam Standards. There are additional questions you need to ask and additional information you require in order to see the magnitude of the reduction in Standards at GCSE level. When I was Head of Mathematics in a comprehensive school in Suffolk, we waited with baited breath during the 1990’s to see how much lower the pass mark for a Grade C in mathematics would be each year. From 1988 to 2001 I seem to remember the pass mark for a grade C on the “Higher” paper dropped from about 45% to a little less than 20%. Meanwhile the educational establishment was crowing about rising standards! We all know that standards have fallen!

At “A” level, in Mathematics, I estimate that many achieving a grade “A” today would have been awarded a grade “C” 20 years ago. Many who pass today would have failed miserably 20 years ago. The Committee should ask for copies of the Examiners Reports and the Grade Boundaries for all core subjects since the inception of the GCSE. Whilst there may not be too much of a reduction in the standard required for the top grades, the standard for a grade C has slipped appallingly.

January 2012

Prepared 2nd July 2012