Request for a Teacher
I have a neat booklet I found in my dad's stuff.
It's a small booklet of O-level examinations in English Language from 1951 to 1955 published by the Joint Matriculation Board.
FREE to a present teacher if they can review it and report back how things and standards have changed since then.
I'm sure that the present students don't have to write as much now, but a professional review would be nice.
It might also make a good class project...
Came fourth...now what?
Is the link correct? It doesn't work for me...
Originally Posted by Oudeis
Came fourth...now what?
It works for me. [I cannot and do not say that I have read every word]
Here is the conclusion...
"Conclusions and implications
1. Top of page
3. Why reform ‘O’ Level language?
4. The birth, evolution and development of the alternative English language ‘O’ Level
5. The contents of the alternative syllabus and ‘O’ Level
6. Conclusions and implications
8. A note on the archive materials
The final, and natural, question of an account like this is to ask whether this is merely a story of events made possible by the time and context. There were contextual factors in the post-war, post-Butler Act, period that may well have forced the hand of English teachers, making it imperative that an alternative curriculum and assessment diet be found; as has been noted, the removal of grammar school fees and the introduction of an IQ based eleven plus, meant that the grammar schools of the 1950s were populated by adolescents ‘drawn almost entirely from the lower-middle and upper-working classes’ (Gould, 2007). This changing school population may well have thrown the flaws of existing arrangements into particularly sharp focus. The relative freedom from government interference in curriculum and assessment, and the scope offered by the exam boards’ own regulations left the door open to teachers to pursue desired changes. And in a pre-performance management, pre-in-service training, somewhat pre-accountability world, perhaps English teachers had the kind of energy, capacity and time that have now been consigned purely to history.
As I write this piece, the Qualifications and Curriculum Association have very recently published the draft criteria for English GCSE qualifications for first teaching in 2010 (QCA, 2008). In so many ways, it is a very different world to that of the early 1950s. There remain no ‘loopholes’ by which any individuals or schools can present an alternative to the model proposed. Involvement of ‘real’ English teachers in the development and drafting of the criteria has, it seems, been hugely restricted. There is, or course, a consultation exercise – a lengthy online questionnaire – though given the recent history of such curriculum and assessment consultations, it is difficult to believe it will result in any genuine change even if a desire for such change is overwhelmingly expressed by respondents. The limited number of examination boards now in existence has limited choice and, certainly to some extent, taken power away from schools and teachers. In such an environment it might be tempting to think we can only look back on the ground breaking work of L.A.T.E. with, at best, a wistful sense of nostalgia. Is there, in fact, anything that can be learned from the story of the L.A.T.E. alternative syllabus, or do we simply cast envious eyes upon a time when the profession had the opportunity to fight for such control over curriculum and assessment? I, for one, would like to think that there are some pertinent lessons from history that we would do well to remember.
In one sense the story highlights the enduring concerns that surround assessment and in particular the system of external examination today, and points to where the genuine problems still lie. There was no debate within L.A.T.E. about the role of coursework, it was the apparently unquestioned norm that students’ achievements would be properly judged by a system of externally administered and marked tests. Nor were there, fairly obviously, debates about the potential impact and benefits of technology on assessment – students taking online tests, or markers assessing scanned scripts for example. Such areas have subsequently entered conversations about assessment, and it is likely that issues such as technological advancement may take an increasingly central position in debates. Central to the L.A.T.E. story, however, is the importance of having assessments that are fair to both students and teachers; rewarding students for their achievements in language, allowing space to cater for the interests of young children, facilitating the development of a broad, balance, meaningful curriculum which leads, not follows, the assessment regime. Such ideas seem completely in keeping with the current educational buzzwords and phrases – personalisation, Every Child Matters, creativity – and so must be kept at the heart of debates about assessment.
In another sense, and as I have suggested earlier, the story is a significant marker in the development of many of the fundamental aspects of a model of English teaching that has been dubbed the ‘London School’. The concern with exploring language in context, the concern to appeal to the interests and experiences of children in the invitation for them to write originally, and the drive to engage children in literature that has some relevance to their own experience – concerns manifesting themselves through this struggle for meaningful assessment – all evolved through the work of L.A.T.E., the London Institute English Department, and English teachers more widely in the attempt to develop a coherent pedagogy for English. I’m not alone in my concern that one consequence of recent decades of educational policy has been – even if we can say kindly as a bi-product – to erode attempts to underpin our English teaching with an explicitly articulated pedagogy.
And for those of us concerned with the development of English pedagogy, and the pursuit of a principled and meaningful organisation of a curriculum and system of assessment, there is, too, something to salvage in this story in the ways that members of L.A.T.E. worked together to effect change. There seems to be a growing acknowledgement amongst policy makers that ‘top down’ solutions to educational concerns have failed to achieve their goals. After two decades of the National Curriculum, and a decade of the Literacy Strategy – the latter being particularly notable for its centrally driven nature – new policy documents at both primary and secondary level talk of returning greater power to schools and teachers, of giving more responsibility to teachers as ‘curriculum innovators’. Though this may, as yet, be rhetoric, and though assessment procedures may not inevitably follow, there are some potentially encouraging signs – an increased weighting for internally controlled assessment at GCSE level, for example.
If ‘top down’ working has finally been seen to be limited in what it can do to genuinely affect educational practice and children’s progress, then the immediate future may see the space for the kind of collaborative working described in this story to reappear. Tony Burgess has suggested that subject associations were a key part of a move in the 1960s and 1970s to towards a practice informed by contemporary knowledge. That vision of practice was, Burgess suggests, a casualty of the centralisation of the 1980s and has ‘not been restored or re-developed’ (Burgess, 2004). If we can dream for a moment that some increasing power over curriculum and assessment returns to the teaching profession, then it seems to me imperative that the kinds of cross-phase, cross-institutional, non-hierarchical networks like the one that devised the alternative paper be allowed to redevelop. Then, perhaps, we might strive again for ways of assessing children that are based on the experience of subject experts, rooted in classroom research, and that place children’s needs and interests at the heart of the assessment process. In my most optimistic moments, I read the story of the L.A.T.E. alternative paper and imagine I am going back to the future."
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