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Anxieties, worries, stressing, resources, ideas, lessons. Moments of upset and moments of learning brilliance.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Speaking and Listening Removed: My "Summary of Findings"

I would not be a teacher if it wasn't for speaking and listening in school. 

Okay, this may be a slight exaggeration, but at school in the early years (KS3) I loved the discussion, project and presentation side of English. I decided I wanted to teach English because I was fully engaged with the subject, I loved being creative and I loved discussing and reading books. However all that being said, I was not the best at analysis and writing technically. 

For me, English all fell into place during GCSE - an exceptional teacher and the texts we studied helped it all "click" for me. But I still thrived off the speaking and listening elements, and I loved linking role-play into Of Mice and Men and An Inspector Calls. I am looking forward to teaching these texts this year for my NQT year - but an announcement today has literally appalled me - I will not be teaching speaking and listening. 

I will not express the importance of communicating. 
I will not expect my pupils to be able to confidently present. 
I will not help my pupils to improve how they talk to others. 
- I will, obviously, and I will assess these things, and it will all be reported in their GCSE, but it won't count towards their actual grade.

The announcement of Ofqual today did not shock me, it just disappointed me. And as I read through the 'summary of findings' my anger increased. My favourite part:
"Overall, respondents strongly disagreed with the proposals, with many supporting their views with specific examples. Comments provided were often detailed and extensive, drawing on respondents’ experience and wider evidence to exemplify the ways in which speaking and listening skills and their assessment have benefited students and indeed wider society"
They may as well have finished the paragraph "not that we listened, or cared what anyone had to say, we had already made our mind up..."

Brace yourself - it gets worse. If your anger is boiling like mine, here is the clincher

"Most respondents, (92 per cent or 841 respondents), disagreed with Proposal 1, whilst 8 per cent (69 respondents) agreed."

The issue is becoming a matter that does not involve speaking and listening, but a question as to why the consultation took place at all if all responses were completely disregarded. 92% is not a small percentage. Not only does this "summary" acknowledge that no-one agreed with the findings, it acknowledges that many respondents offered a more fair and equal alternative.

"School or college: ‘If Ofqual do not feel that schools are assessing correctly why not move to address this? Increase moderation visits; include some recording of assessments as there is at MFL and in the IB.' 
School or college: ‘Speaking and Listening is a vital part of English alongside Reading and Writing. MFL qualifications have an oral communication element as part of their assessment; why shouldn't English?’"

It makes depressing reading, if I am completely honest. Every single proposal is disagreed by a large majority. 

If you agree or disagree with speaking and listening being a component in English GCSE, your opinion is irrelevant. I am not sure how many people may read this blog and think "what is she on about? I wanted it gone" - your opinion is irrelevant. My opinion (as one of only 917 responses to the consultation) is also irrelevant. 

This is my issue with this entire debacle. My anger is a response not entirely to the loss of speaking and listening. It is to the fact that 92% of respondents were ignored. It is that the "consultation", as @Gwenelope mentioned on Twitter, was completely farcical.

I despair that I responded myself (in anger, of course) and what a waste of time it was to sit at my computer and click submit. 

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