Several newspapers including The Times reported today that pupils are receiving marks in their GCSE English exams for writing swear words on their papers. One pupil who simply wrote f*** off as an answer received 2 marks out of a maximum 27 (7.5%) for accurate spelling and conveying the meaning of a word. Amazingly, Peter Buckroyd, chief examiner at the the largest examination board AQA, explained that he would have given more marks if the pupil had added an exclamation mark. He said “It would be wicked to give it zero, because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for – like conveying some meaning and some spelling.
“It’s better than someone that doesn’t write anything at all. It shows more skills than somebody who leaves the page blank.”
Where to start? This is the same exam board with whom you can gain a grade C pass in Maths with a mere 20%. Mr Buckroyd is certainly consistent in his views. He should have realised that after this incredible revelation, it would have been better to say nothing at all. Just how many children does Mr Buckroyd want to fail before he presides over an exam that stretches children sufficiently to prepare them for a world beyond cheap cider and a lifetime’s dependency on the welfare state.