Learning Machine Logo

When I was in primary school, back in the 1960s, I learnt my Catechism. What is your soul? My soul is my memory, my understanding, and my will. It seems that was either the simplified version or things have changed a bit, possibly because we know a lot more now about memory, some more about understanding and perhaps a bit about will too. Free will is an interesting concept. It's certainly a useful social construct because it is fundamental to most morality and most religions. I can remember arguing with priests about how we can be considered to have free will if God knows everything that will happen. The argment was that if we sit on a mountain and observe a train going towards a fallen bridge we know it is going to crash but we don't cause it. In God's case though he could prevent it whereas in ours as observer we can't. So even if we had a complete description of the universe and we could predict any outcome, we would not be the cause of it, but perhaps we might try to change some of the worst consequences. 

Aha, you say now there is evidence of free will. You are saying you would try to change pre-dermined outcomes so you must make that decision. Unfortunately, I'm part of the universe so what I decided to do could be part of the description in the first place, it would just appear to me that I was intervening indendently.  It's part of human evolution to put ourselves at the centre of things. We tend to think other people think as we do, have the same motivations and interests or if they don't, they should. We are egocentric. It is a necessary part of survival instinct and it is as natural as blood flowing through veins. 

So am I saying there is no such thing as free will? Let's put that on one side for a minute. In practical terms human behaviour starts with a sperm fertilising an egg and producing a unique genetic blueprint. From that point on that genetic coding interacts with the environment to grow a human being. Leaving aside the possible religious aspects of "soul", how is a child's behaviour affected by its development? 

First of all there is the autonomic nervous system. This is involuntary in that we are not conscious of it and we have no control over it – well that is true to an extent because with sufficient practice control can be achieved in some aspects of it. The somatic nervous system provides control over muscles, limbs and such like. Then there is the endocrine system using hormones for often slower and longer lasting effects, the limbic system controlling emotion, long term memory and behaviour and finally the cerebral cortex with a key role in language, attention and consciousness. So what has this to do with human behaviour – or indeed any animal behaviour? Certainly it appears on one level that these systems are separate and that the autonomic nervous system is nothing to do with behaviour but the fact is that all of these systems are part of the same machine. They affect one another in complex ways and are all relevant to one degree or another to learned behaviour. The complexity is such that pinning down cause and effect is particularly difficult. That does not mean we need to invoke a spirit or some "special human ingredient", the most likely explanation is its so complex we don't fully understand it yet. 

A lot of the anatomical structures above are genetically determined. They have to be or we would not survive long enough to be born. All of them can become modified to one degree or another by environmental factors from diet and exercise through to information coming in from the senses. How we feel about things depends as much on the endocrine and limbic systems as it does on the cerebral cortex, probably much more so. We learn to avoid pain as well as the reflex response to stimuli. Pavlov's dogs showed causal links between uncontrollable response and stimuli. This gets more difficult to parse in more complex circumstances but why would more complexity change the fundamental premise? It might do but complexity can also give rise to illusion. It is an inescapable fact that the choices we make, whether fully or partially "free" or not free at all, are heavily affected by things beyond our control. First of all our genetic make up and second the environment we are brought up in and how that affects learned behaviours. 

So does this lead to a conclusion where everyone is absolved from all responsibilities because they had bad genetics, a bad upbringing or rubbish schooling? Certainly not and the reason is obvious. Without individual accountability for actions, society as we know it falls apart. Children need to learn that there are consequences to particular behaviours. There is a really practical reason to discipline children precisely because discipline is a learned behaviour. Sure some will learn that lesson more readily than others, as with most learning people vary. We don't need to worry too much about the philosophy of whether free will exists or not, unless we are concerned about justifying our own personal gratification from revenge or to fit some other similar moral or religious code. What matters is being able to change the behaviour and logically that is to take actions we know result in the right behaviour. We can call that a deterrent to ensure that the exercising of "free will" results in appropriate behaviour or we can call it incentivising appropriate exercising of "free will". It is not much different from training your dog that it must not crap indoors or go upstairs. Whether we consider the dog has free will or not is really not that relevant. What matters is providing the environmental conditioning within the constraints of the dog's genetics and past experiences so it does what we want. Take a different set of genetics, a cat for example, and its a whole lot more difficult.

So in conclusion, I'd say I'm not sure all people understand free will to be the same thing but in the context of teaching children, it's largely irrelevant. What matters is teaching them to be good people and that has to take into account their genetic make up and the experiences they bring from outside if it is to be at all successful. The differences are in the politics of whose interests are best served by different approaches to that issue. 

 

The current DfE policy is that any subject that is a GCSE can not be substantially replicated as a Tech Award. Tech Awards are the new vocational qualifications targeted on pupils pre-16. In Prgress and attainment 8 there will be maths and English GCSE that all do, 3 Ebacc GCSEs and 3 others. The 3 others can be GCSEs such as music, art and PE but they canalso be Tech Awards. This provides scope for up to 3/8 of the curriculum to have a vocational practical emphasis. 

So what are the constraints on Tech Awards?

  1. They are not supposed to replicate academic subjects that are already specified as GCSEs. This means no Tech Awards in English, Maths, Physics, Computer Science, History, Geography, MFLs etc.
  2. Tech Awards should be fundamentally practical and provide some useful skills as well as knowledge and understanding.
  3. Tech Awards should not be very highly specific to an occupation and provide progression to other higher level qualifications post 16.

So we can't have a Physics, Maths, Biology, Chemistry or Science Tech Award but could we have one in something related to the STEM subjects? One way to do it would be to have a Level 1 award in say Engineering. Engineering is not a GCSE so a Tech Award in it would be reasonable. If we defined the assessment criteria in terms of engineering principles, specifically drawing upon science and maths in general to solve engineering problems and at the same time provide the focus for learning science and maths, that might well work. Level 1 is about the same as L4/5 in the old national curriculum and so we could organise a Level 1 course targeted mainly on the end of KS3. In other words we provide a focus for recognising KS3 achievement and the STEM subjects contribute evidence. We use a cloud based managment system to make those contributions easy from any of the STEM subjects. Pupils are then more motivated through KS3 because they are working towards getting their certificate. The brightest can do a Level 2 exam end of KS3 and get A*-C equivalence and still go on and do GCSE science as that is a different subject and it will have a different discount code for league table points. Chances are they will be better prepared and so get higher grades. We can make a Level 3 STEM award that can be done by the highest flyers in KS4 if they get A/A* grades early. That would not get league tble points but kids getting A*s in Year  9 and 10 will probably get al the school needs in that respect anyway, it just means the brightest kids are not just marking time and can be better prepared for A levels in maths or science. 

If there is sufficient interest in this I can design and submit qualifications in the net round and they will get league table points for 2018. Just send me an e-mail or leave a reply to the blog. 

 

 

It is now 6 months since the original post in the CAS mailing list that initiated the Computing Baseline testing project. Since then we have

  • Devised and delivered the first test to over 52,000 children.
  • Built rebuilt and revised the supporting software systems.
  • Extended the server technology to cope with > 2000 students a day taking the on-line exam.
  • Fed back aggregated statistics to the participating schools.

What we plan to do now is extend the service down into primary schools and provide optional low cost certification of attainment and performance. Certificates will be available directly from the web site and a QR code will be printed on them so they can be authenticated directly against the database. This is the same system as our nationally regulated exams. We will provide new tests every 6 months so that progress measures can be made and fed back to schools as well as raw attainment. Beyond this we can provide the same service for mathematics and science and we are planning an EU funded Transfer of Innovation Project to take the project to other countries in Europe. Then each school and each country can compare it's performance with all the others. Parents can know how there children place in the whole of Europe in knowledge and understanding of computer technology, mathematics and science and all for free. There will be options at a cost for certification of these simple tests or to obtain more substantial qualifications regulated by the UK national government. 

 

 

 

 

The contents of this blog entry is now transferred to a new Web Site intended to provide free supporting resources for KS1 and 2 teacher assessment. 

 

The DfE consultation on statutory assessment performance descriptors became available last week. To cut to the chase, I am amazed that a document of such poor quality can have reached general circulation. Wasn't the scrapping of levels and the national strategies the result of a judgement that they were too complicated, bogging teachers down in bureaucracy and unintelligible to parents? We need as many teachers as possible to fill in the consultation with "not fit for purpose", "will unnecessarily increase teacher workloads", "will be impenetrable to parents", "without significant editing, makes it look like educators are ill-educated" or similar.

This document introduces levels that are not levels and more of them, criteria that are not really criteria and are massively inconsistent and repetitious. The labels are misleading in the meaning that they are conveying. As a professional developing regulated qualifications it seems to me very unlikely that the person(s) drafting this document had any real experience in writing assessment criteria or performance indicators, it is unbelievably amateurish.  I could write a lot more in critique but I'm sure others will do this at length. What I will do here is re-write the thing to demonstrate how it could be done reducing the number of criteria statements by about 75%, making it clearer to teachers what they need to assess and significantly reducing teacher workloads by linking this to free cloud based technologies for managing the process. If ever evidence was needed for keeping government out of the way and letting grass roots professionals get on with it, this must be it.

I am going to start with mathematics because it is the first subject presented. Click here for English and here for Science.

The document divides Key stage 1 into 4 levels. "Below the national standard", "working towards the national standard", "working at the national standard" and "mastery level".  The first thing is that these labels are misleading. Working towards the national standard is below the national standard so there really is no need for two "levels" here. If we are going to consider working towards, it is a continuum from no evidence at the outset to reaching the standard at the conclusion so the first thing to do is dump "Below the national standards" as redundant. Next get rid of the performance descriptors for "working towards" since this is a continuum and there is no specific level to be defined. In order to report progress the teacher can provide an estimate of the percentage of the way the pupil has travelled in order to get to the national standard. Let's get focus on what the target is and not get side-tracked in complex irrelevance. (That was the reason for getting rid of the old levels so it is totally illogical to make it more complicated now) More of the details of this later. What we need to do now is define the assessment criteria for the national standard. (performance descriptors are assessment criteria, there is no functional difference).

Below I have provided a re-edit of those provided in the consultation document. In essence if these criteria are evidenced it would be safe to assume that those in the document would be too so I have not changed the content, only improved the consistency and made the wording clear for practical use. Probably further work can reduce them further. If we have more time it should be shorter!

National Standard KS1 mathematics.

Desired learning outcome – Understand number and place value in the range 0 to 100.

Assessment criteria

  • can read and write integers between 0 and 100 in numerals and words.
  • can count in steps of 2, 5 and 10 from 0 to 100 and 100 to 0.
  • can count in steps of 3 from 0 to 30.
  • can use place value to order numbers between 0 and 100.
  • can identify the correct use of > < and = signs in the context of integers.
  • know that an integer is a whole number.
  • can use a number line and other symbols to present and represent numbers.
  • can solve simple problems involving putting numbers in order.

Desired learning outcome – Understand addition and subtraction.

  • can fluently recall and use addition and subtraction facts for integers up to 10.
  • can add and subtract multiples of 10 to 100 by applying the facts for single digits.
  • can recall some addition and subtraction facts to 20.
  • can use mental arithmetic to add and subtract numbers where the result is between 0 and 100.
  • can use written and practical methods to add and subtract numbers where the result is between 0 and 100.
  • can apply the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction to check calculations and solve simple problems.
  • can solve simple 2 step problems in the context of 1 and 2 digit numbers.
  • can show that order is important in subtraction.

Desired learning outcome – Understand multiplication and division.

  • can recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 10 times table using the signs × and =.
  • can recall and use some of the multiplication and division facts for the 2 and 5 times tables using the signs ×, ÷, and =.
  • can solve simple problems using multiplication and division.
  • can identify the odd and even numbers between 0 and 100.
  • can identify even numbers as having their last or only digit as 0,2,4,6, or 8.
  • can identify multiplication by 2 as the inverse of division by 2.
  • can associate double and half as equivalent to multiplication and division by 2.
  • can demonstrate that multiplication is commutative.
  • can relate multiplication to repeated addition.

Desired learning outcome – Understand fractions.

  • can divide objects and groups of objects into halves.
  • can identify 1/3 and 1/4 of a small set of objects where the numbers of objects are divisible by 3 or 4.
  • can express simple problems using fraction notation and solve them.
  • can identify 2/4 as the same as 1/2 in practical contexts.

Desired learning outcome – Understand measurement and statistics.

  • can compare quantities of mass, length, time, temperature, money and capacity using standard units.
  • can judge relative sizes using integers, half, third and a quarter.
  • can measure and estimate quantities of mass, length, time, temperature, money and capacity in simple practical contexts.
  • can use the symbols > < and = when recording results.
  • can use scales to the nearest whole labelled division.
  • can calculate the value of quantities from addition and subtraction in the appropriate units to solve simple problems.
  • can use half and quarter of an hour in telling the time and writing the time.
  • can interpret and construct simple pictograms, tally charts, block diagrams and tables.
  • can identify categories, implement simple sorts and compare categories using the data in them.

National Standard KS2 mathematics.

Desired learning outcome – Understand number and place value in the range 0 to 10,000,000.

Assessment criteria

  • can read and write integers between 0 and 10,000,000 in numerals and words.
  • can identify the value of each digit in a decimal number with up to 3 decimal places.
  • can round numbers to the nearest order of magnitude up to 100,000 for all integers.
  • can use place value to order numbers between 0 and 10,000,000.
  • can identify incorrect answers using estimation and approximation to determine plausibility of a practical result.
  • can use appropriate accuracy and precision in simple cases when recording results.
  • can solve practical problems involving negative numbers.
  • can calculate intervals between negative and positive numbers.
  • can solve numerical problems involving putting numbers in order, making comparisons and identifying patterns.

Desired learning outcome – Understand the 4 most common arithmetic operators

  • can use mental arithmetic to add and subtract integers with up to 3 digits.
  • can use formal written methods to add and subtract integers with more than 3 digits.
  • can solve practical multi-step problems requiring addition and subtraction.
  • can identify multiples and factors in integers.
  • can recall prime numbers up to 19.
  • can recall square numbers up to 144.
  • can use the properties of multiples, factors, prime numbers and square numbers in arithmetic problems.
  • can use place value to multiply and divide decimal numbers with up to 3 decimal places by 10, 100 and 1000.
  • can multiply and divide numbers mentally where problems involve a total of up to 3 digits.
  • can solve mental arithmetic problems that require mixed operations.
  • can fluently multiply a 4 digit number by a 2 digit number using long multiplication.
  • can fluently divide a 4 digit number by a 1 digit number using a formal written method.
  • can divide a 4 digit number by a 2 digit divisor using long division.
  • can describe remainders in relation to their context.
  • can solve practical and theoretical arithmetic problems and puzzles.
  • can use appropriate accuracy and precision in simple cases when recording results of calculations.

Desired learning outcome – Understand fractions, decimals, percentages, ratio and proportion.

  • can simplify fractions using common factors.
  • can identify equivalence in fractions and express fractions with a common denominator.
  • can identify the symbols % and : in percentages and ratio.
  • can express a percentage as parts per hundred.
  • can recall and use equivalencies between fractions, decimals, and percentages in a range of contexts.
  • can convert fractions to decimals and decimals to fractions using division and place value for simple cases.
  • can calculate fractions and percentages of integer quantities.
  • can add and subtract fractions that have common multiple denominators.
  • can calculate with improper fractions and mixed numbers to solve problems.
  • can fluently add and subtract decimal numbers.
  • can round up and down to the required number of decimal places or significant figures.
  • can multiply numbers between -9.99 and +9.99 by an integer.
  • can use written division to solve problems where the result has 2 decimal places.
  • can use ratio and proportion in integer based contexts.
  • can use scale factors to solve problems with similar shapes.
  • can solve practical and theoretical problems that involve fractions, decimals, and percentages.

Desired learning outcome – Understand algebra and statistics.

  • can use words to describe and utilise simple formulae.
  • can express an unknown number in algebraic terms.
  • can generate and describe linear number sequences.
  • can solve simple equations with 2 unknown values.
  • can use tables to organise data.
  • can convert data to information and present it using bar charts, pie charts and line graphs.
  • can calculate the mean of a simple set of discrete data.
  • can explain the meaning of the mean in a range of contexts.

Desired learning outcome – Understand measurement and properties of shapes.

  • can use analogue and digital clocks fluently to tell the time.
  • can read Roman Numerals to 1000 (M).
  • can convert between 12 hour and 24 hour clock formats using am and pm.
  • can solve practical problems that require the full range of units of time.
  • can use SI units of measure in practical contexts.
  • can measure and calculate perimeters of rectilinear shapes.
  • can identify shapes with the same area and different perimeters.
  • can calculate areas of rectangles using cmand m2
  • can use a square grid to estimate areas of irregular shapes including the use of fractions of squares.
  • can convert between units of measure with precision of 3 decimal places.
  • can solve practical and theoretical problems that involve measurements, shapes and their properties.
  • can classify geometric shapes based on their physical attributes.
  • can build 3-D objects from 2-D templates.
  • can describe a range of 3D objects in terms of their physical attributes.
  • can draw 2-D shapes to required accuracy when provided with dimensions and angles.
  • can identify angles formed by intersecting straight lines and find missing angles.
  • can calculate the value of angles in a triangle from knowing that the sum of the interior angles is 1800
  • can describe radius, diameter and circumference of a circle. 
  • can represent a shape on the coordinate plane in the first quadrant.
  • can use coordinates to describe positions in the first quadrant.
  • can carry out translation and reflections of shapes to solve problems.

KS1 Reading

Desired learning outcome – read words with fluency.

  • can apply phonics consistently to decode age appropriate texts quickly and accurately.
  • can recognise and fluently decode alternative sounds for graphemes.
  • can recognise and fluently decode words of two or more syllables.
  • can recognise and fluently decode words with common suffixes.
  • can recognise and fluently decode the most common exception words.
  • can sound out unfamiliar words accurately without undue hesitation when reading aloud.

Desired learning outcome – understand what they read and what is read to them.

  • can demonstrate understanding of a range of poetry, stories, non-fiction, read independently.
  • can understand more challenging books that are read by the teacher.
  • can take account of what others say in discussion of texts.
  • can identify sequences of events in texts.
  • can explain how items of information in a text relate to each other.
  • can retell fictional stories that have been read.
  • can identify structure in non-fiction books.
  • can recognise recurring literary language in a range of texts.
  • can share favourite words and phrases.
  • can clarify meaning of new words through discussion and links to known vocabulary.
  • can recite a repertoire of poetry.
  • can use appropriate intonation to clarify meaning during a recital.
  • can correct myself when the sense of the text is lost during independent reading.
  • can make inferences from what is read.
  • can ask and answer appropriate questions related to inference and prediction from texts.

Desired learning outcome – Develop a positive attitude to reading.

  • can express a liking for reading and being read to.

KS2 Reading

Desired learning outcome – read words fluently with expression and understanding

  • can fluently read a range of age appropriate texts that include novels, stories, plays, poetry, non-fiction, reference and text books. 
  • can determine the meaning of new words using knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes.
  • can demonstrate appropriate intonation, tone and volume when reading aloud. 

Desired learning outcome – understand what they read and what is read to them.

  • can demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of texts across a full range of fiction and non-fiction.
  • can recommend books to others based on own reading giving reasons for choices.
  • can recite a wide range of poetry.
  • can explain how language, structure and presentation can contribute to the meaning of a text.
  • can draw on contextual evidence to make sense of what is read.
  • can take part in a discussion to explore words with different meanings.
  • can comment on how language, including figurative language, is used to contribute to meaning.
  • can ask questions to enhance my understanding of a text.
  • can make comparisons within and across texts.
  • can make inferences about characters' motives, feelings, thoughts and actions based on evidence in the text. 
  • can make predictions based on evidence in the text.
  • can distinguish between facts and opinion in all texts suitable for my age.
  • can take evidence from a non-fiction source and record it as information for presentation to a reader. 
  • can summarise evidence supporting the main ideas in a text by identifying and taking details from more than one paragraph.
  • can courteously express views and challenge the views of others, based on personal reading and what has been read to them.
  • can with the aid of notes, make a formal presentation that demonstrates focus on and understanding of a topic about which they have read.
  • can demonstrate an understanding of themes and conventions through discussion and comment across a wide range of writing.

Desired learning outcome – Reading attitude

  • reads fiction and non-fiction frequently for pleasure with minimal prompting.

KS1 Writing

Desired learning outcome – plan, draft, evaluate edit and proof read work

  • can write narratives about personal experiences and those of others both real and imaginary.
  • can write about real events
  • can write poems.
  • can gather information and ideas including new vocabulary from reading and other sources.
  • can write key words to represent ideas.
  • can draft encapsulated narrative sentence by sentence.
  • can discuss their writing with other people, evaluating the effectiveness of their choice of words, grammar and punctuation.
  • can discuss their writing with other people, making appropriate additions, revisions and corrections.
  • can use agreed terminology when discussing writing
  • can check work to make sure it makes sense and that verbs are in the correct tense by re-reading it.
  • can check work for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.

Desired learning outcome – apply correct vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to writing.

  • can use capital letters for almost all proper nouns.
  • can describe and specify using adjectives, adverbs, and expanded noun phrases.
  • can use the present and past tenses including the progressive form to mark actions in progress throughout their writing.
  • can link phrases using the coordinating conjunctions or/and/but.
  • can link phrases using the subordinating conjunctions when/if/that/because.
  • can compose grammatically accurate sentences for a range of purposes.
  • can demonstrate the characteristics of standard written English with mostly correct punctuation.

Desired learning outcome – spell words correctly.

  • can write simple sentences dictated by the teacher that include words using grapheme phoneme correspondence, common exception words and punctuation, using memorised facts.
  • can demonstrate application of grapheme-phoneme correspondences and segmenting words into phonemes through accurate spelling.
  • can spell most common exception words accurately.
  • can spell words with suffixes where the changes are need to the root word.
  • can spell longer words formed by addition of suffixes.

Desired learning outcome – hand write effectively.

  • can hold a pencil comfortably and correctly.
  • can write legibly with characters accurately and consistently formed to the correct size and orientation in relation to each other.
  • can space words consistently in relation to the size of letters.
  • can join letters using diagonal and horizontal strokes.

KS2 Writing

Desired learning outcome – plan, draft, evaluate edit and proof read work

  • can write for a range of purposes and audiences demonstrating the use of suitable forms and features drawn from similar writing, wider reading and research.
  • can plan narratives using ideas for characters from what I has been read, listened to or performed.
  • can with the aid of a thesaurus, choose grammar and vocabulary that clarifies and enhances meaning when drafting work.
  • can write narrative with descriptions of settings, characters, atmosphere and integrated dialogue that conveys character and advances the action.
  • can precise longer passages.
  • can evaluate effectiveness of writing and take action to enhance impact and clarify meaning.
  • can use agreed terminology when discussing writing.
  • can check work with the aid of a dictionary and thesaurus when writing for a wider audience.

Desired learning outcome – structure and organise text.

  • can structure written work in paragraphs.
  • can use a range of cohesive devices to link ideas within and across paragraphs.
  • can use bullets, lists, tables and similar sub-structures to make information more accessible to the reader.
  • can use tense appropriately and consistently to support the coherence of the whole text.

Desired learning outcome – apply correct vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to writing.

  • can use expanded noun phrases to convey complicated information concisely. 
  • can use relative clauses using a wide range of relative pronouns to clarify and explain relationships between ideas.
  • can use the perfect form of verbs to mark relationships of time and cause.
  • can use modal verbs and adverbs to indicate degrees of possibility, probability and certainty.
  • can use the passive voice to affect the presentation of information.
  • can use vocabulary and grammatical choices to suit both formal and informal situations.
  • can use a range of punctuation, mostly accurately.

Desired learning outcome – spell words correctly.

  • can write simple sentences dictated by the teacher that include words and punctuation associated with the KS2 national curriculum using memorised facts.
  • can demonstrate accurate spelling of most prefixes and suffixes from the KS2 national curriculum.
  • can spell most words with silent letters.
  • can spell most homophones and other words which are often confused. 
  • can the words on the year 5/6 word list.

Desired learning outcome – hand write effectively.

  • can write fluently and at an efficiently by hand.
  • can choose an appropriate writing implement.
  • can choose appropriate letter shapes and whether or not to join letters.

Key Stage 1 Science

Desired learning outcome – work scientifically.

  • can make observations of the natural and humanly-constructed world.
  • can ask questions about observations.
  • can observe changes over time.
  • can identify patterns.
  • can group and classify things.
  • can make a comparative test.
  • can use secondary sources to find information.
  • can use scientific language and terminology to discuss findings.
  • can communicate ideas in a variety of ways.
  • can use the words, method, observe, pattern, results, measure, compare, record, group, equipment, and fair, in context.
  • can read and spell scientific words.

Desired learning outcome – understand structure and function in living things.

  • can name and locate the external parts of the human body including eyes, ears, nose, mouth, tongue, skin.
  • can describe the basic needs for animals to survive.
  • can describe the importance of exercise.
  • can describe the importance of diet.
  • can describe the importance of hygiene.
  • can describe changes in development from offspring to adult in birds, insects and mammals.
  • can name and locate the external parts of flowering plants and trees including flower, leaf, root, stem, trunk, seed, branch, petal.
  • can describe the basic needs for plants to survive.
  • can describe how altering the conditions of survival for a plant affects the plant.
  • can describe the changes in development from seeds and bulbs growing into mature plants.

Desired learning outcome – understand interdependence between living things.

  • can identify things as alive, dead or have never lived.
  • can identify a variety of common plants and animals in their habitats.
  • can identify fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals from their features.
  • can group animals according to what they eat, carnivore, herbivore, omnivore.
  • can describe the relationships in a simple food chain.
  • can describe how living things, weather, day length and temperature change with the seasons.
  • can describe how different plants and animals are suited to different habitats and microhabitats.

Desired learning outcome – understand properties of materials.

  • can distinguish between an object and the materials from which it is made.
  • can identify a variety of everyday materials.
  • can sort materials into groups using their physical properties.
  • can compare wood, plastic, glass, metal, water, rock, paper, cardboard in terms of their usage.
  • can describe how the shapes of some solid materials can be changed by applying a force.

Key Stage 2 Science

Desired learning outcome – work scientifically.

  • can explore and talk about ideas.
  • can analyse functions, relationships, and interactions systematically.
  • can identify abstract ideas that enable understanding and predicting of how the world works.
  • can identify scientific ideas that have changed over time.
  • can formulate questions about scientific phenomena.
  • can select and plan appropriate ways to answer scientific questions.
  • can observe changes over a period of time.
  • can identify patterns.
  • can group and classify things according to their characteristics.
  • can carry out a fair test.
  • can find scientific information from a range of secondary sources.
  • can select suitable equipment for experimentation.
  • can take accurate measurements and record them with appropriate units.
  • can make sure my measurements are reliable by repeating and checking them.
  • can draw conclusions from my observations and data.
  • can use evidence from a range of sources to support my ideas.
  • can use scientific knowledge and understanding to explain my findings in writing and through talk and other media.
  • can use the scientific terms accurate, conclusion, evidence, fair test, prediction, reliable, supports, evidence, variable, unit
  • can read spell and pronounce scientific vocabulary at a level consistent with KS2.

Desired learning outcome – understand structure and function in living things.

  • can name locate and describe the functions of the main parts of the digestive, musculoskeletal and circulatory systems in animals.
  • can describe the short and long term effects of exercise on the body.
  • can describe the short and long term effects of diet on the body.
  • can describe the short and long term effects of drugs and lifestyle on the body.
  • can describe the reproductive processes and differences in lifecycles of mammals, amphibians, insects and birds.
  • can name locate and describe the functions of the main parts of flowering plants and how water and nutrients are transported.
  • can describe how plants are affected by their environment and changes to growing conditions.

Desired learning outcome – understand evolution and inheritance.

  • can describe how fossils are formed.
  • can describe how fossils provide evidence of evolution.
  • can describe how variation between offspring and adaptation to their environment provides evidence to explain evolution over time.
  • can relate inherited characteristics to survival and continuation in a species.

Desired learning outcome – understand interdependence between living things.

  • can use keys to classify groups of living things.
  • can describe the main characteristics used to group plants, animals and micro-organisms according to the main groups in the classification system. 
  • can construct and interpret food chains.
  • can explain how wider environmental changes may have an impact on living things.

Desired learning outcome – understand states of matter.

  • can compare the characteristics of different states of matter (solids, liquids and gases). 
  • can describe how materials can change state with reference to temperature.
  • can explain everyday phenomena related to change of state including the water cycle.

Desired learning outcome – understand properties of materials.

  • can identify, group and classify materials, including rocks, according to their appearance.
  • can identify, group and classify materials, including rocks, according to their hardness and solubility.
  • can identify, group and classify materials, including rocks, according to their thermal and electrical conductivity and response to magnets.
  • can describe the advantages and disadvantages of everyday materials for different uses.
  • can describe the composition of soil.

Desired learning outcome – ​ understand changes in materials

  • can identify everyday phenomena where dissolving occurs. 
  • can describe how to separate different mixtures of materials, including solutions. 
  • can identify reversible or non-reversible changes in materials.
  • can explain reasons for concluding that a change is reversible or non-reversible.

Desired learning outcome – ​understand light and sound

  • can explain how we see things using diagrams. 
  • can explain reflection using ray diagrams.
  • can explain shadow formation using ray diagrams.
  • can explain how vibrating objects produce sound waves.
  • can explain why sound requires a medium of propagation.
  • can explain how the ear detects sound.
  • can explain that pitch is related to frequency of vibration of the source.
  • can explain that the volume of a sound is related to amplitude of vibration of the source.
  • can explain that the intensity of sound falls off with distance from the source.

Desired learning outcome – ​understand forces.

  • can identify and describe different effects of forces on objects.
  • can distinguish between contact forces and forces at a distance.
  • can identify common materials which are magnetic.
  • can use the behaviour of unlike magnetic poles to predict the behaviour of magnets.
  • can describe how pulleys, levers and gears can be used to amplify a force.

Desired learning outcome – ​understand electricity.

  • can build a series circuit using cells, wires, switches, bulbs and buzzers.
  • can describe how component changes affect a series circuit.  
  • can use the recognised circuit symbols for cells, wires, switches, bulbs, buzzers and motors.
  • can draw and interpret simple series circuit diagrams.
  • can identify common conductors and insulators.

Desired learning outcome – ​understand the position and context of the Earth in space.

  • can describe the shape of bodies in the solar system and their movement relative to each other.
  • can use the Earth’s movement in space to explain day and night and the apparent movement of the sun across the sky.

Recording progress to and beyond the National Standard

Now we have established the national standard we can formulate a method for recording progress towards it.

There are two dimensions to progress in relation to the desired learning outcomes. First progress from no evidence up to meeting the level of demand of the standard as defined by each of the national standard assessment criteria. Is the pupil secure as determined by the observed evidence in relation to that criterion? Second, how far through the criteria collectively has the pupil progressed? First let's assume progress is linear across two years. We know it won't be for all individuals but if we assume the approach of Occam's razor, in the absence of a definitive answer in a range of competing options, choose the simplest.

Let's say the learner has evidenced 50% of the criteria in the program of study to the required standard and the teacher judges them to be half way in the others. They might then say 75% of the way to the standard. This is not intended to be a precise quantification, it is simply to give an indication based on the teacher's professional knowledge of the pupil's work about how far they have to go to reach the standard. A typical child that is on target to meet the standard will be about 50% of the way there after 1 year in a 2 year programme and 100% at the end of the 2 years. A faster progressing pupil might be at the standard after 1.5 years and a slow progressing pupil might be 50% of the way there after 2 years. Teachers have the professional discretion to provide their evidence of progress based on whatever data they collect as long as it is plausible in relation to the criteria for the standard and informative to parents. 

Now what about mastery level?

Mastery is a bad word to use because it implies there is complete competence and this is very unlikely in KS1 and KS2. If it is the national standard, and most children aren't at it, it under-mines the credibility of the standard. The national standard requires mastery of its programme of study, not some arbitrary measure above that. If it is full mastery of the subject then at KS1 its entirely unbelievable because no-one masters a subject by the end of KS1 not even Mozart or Einstein. If we want continuity beyond the national standard, let the teacher decide on extension work and tell parents that. Your child completed the work to the national standard 6 months early and so we are giving them extension work to maintain their progress. If we want to provide more fine detailed information why not provide a free on-line test for such children? Saves the marking and aggregates the results. To be eligible to take the test you must have teacher assessment confirming that the standard was reached and that you have had some preparation for the test. Then you will be given a position in the test in relation to all others taking the test that can be given to parents. If we want to communicate information to parents about attainment beyond the standard that is a simple and inexpensive way to do it. Of all the children taking the test your child was in the lower 50%, upper 10% etc. Parents can opt out and say they don't want their child to take the test if they want to. (It's a democracy after all and the state should not be telling parents what is good for their children in non-vital areas) In those circumstances the teacher can use professional discretion to decide what extension or enrichment work to provide. 

Summary

All of the above criteria are derived directly from the draft performance indicators. They are considerably less verbose and can be linked to additional guidance as necessary. They define the desired outputs from the programme of study and will be a lot more easily understood by teachers, parents and pupils. There is a free web based management system that can be used for evidence and progress tracking as well as reporting. If we want to reduce time teachers spend on administration releasing it for better teaching and greater professional autonomy we can probably reduce this further since some of the criteria are obviously dependent on others. 

 

The Problem with Numbers

The problem with numbers is that people put too much faith in them. The way the human brain works is geared to short-cuts. This is why branding is so important in marketing. It is much easier to trust a brand you know that everyone else is saying is just great than to go and research every product and objectively compare them. Is Coca Cola really better than supermarket brand Cola that is 30% of the price? Is an ipad better than a generic tablet? The point I'm making here is that we are geared not to think, thinking is hard work, time consuming and it is far easier to learn a few labels and go with the herd. 

esize3

When it comes to statistics this is even more the case. Quantify a measurement and everyone (perhaps with the exception of physicists) will believe it is precisely that value. National Curriculum levels are a good example.  If I assessed a piece of work at level 5b and then took a random sample of 100 teachers across the nation and asked each to assess the same piece of work "blind" how likely is it that we would all arrive at 5b? I wouldn't like to bet money on us arriving at an average of level 5, never mind the sub-level. And if we did the exercise again with another 100 teachers would the variation in the average produced by each group be bigger than one sub-level? If so it is very dubious to have such fine divisions if we are using the statistics in any sort of summative exercise such as accountability measures or access to courses. It misleads people into thinking these things are more precise than they actually are. Incidentally the same really applies to exams and qualifications. This does not mean that having descriptions in terms of criteria is necessarily a bad thing for formative assessment, I'm not trying to get into an argument about the desirablility or otherwise of levels, it's more to illustrate that the purpose makes a big difference to how the numbers generated from such things are used.

Effect size

So this brings me on to Effect Size. Effect size is a calculation of how effective one line of action is compared to not doing it. It is inherently assumed that there is some dependent variable being influened by an independent variable. Take a group of teachers and get them to give out regular homework and get a similar control group and get them to give out no homework. Follow this up and see what difference there is between the two groups in some test afterwards. The score in the test is the dependent variable, the homework the independent variable. Label that difference effect size. Straightforward? Or is it? With all scientific measurements and subsequent generalisations, we make assumptions eg assuming no air resistance, assuming everyone is more or less the same, assuming the speed is less than 50% the speed of light and so on. So let's list the assumptions in the homework example.

The first two assumptions are that the measurement in the follow up to determine the effect size is both valid and dependent and all other variables are eliminated. Let's say it was an exam in the subject matter. Was that the same exam for all pupils in both groups? Is the exam genuinely a reflection of the learning under scrutiny in all its facets? The problem with saying an effect size indicates an effect on learning is in agreeing what learning was being considered in the first place. As an example let's say I spend 2 weeks teaching  physics lessons about how reflection and refraction work in glass objects using real bits of glass.  Someone else spends the same time teaching this from diagrams in text books. I then give an exam using diagrams to provide the questions and the second group do better than the first. Teaching with diagrams gets a significantly bigger effect size than teaching using real bits of glass. Is it a valid conclusion to say that teaching using diagrams is more effective by Effect Size <N>? If what we are interested in is how well learners can answer questions about relection and refraction framed as diagrams, then perhaps so. If we are interested in how well the candidates understand practical properties of glass, we can't be sure because if we had asked questions that required experience of real bits of glass the results might have changed. I'm not saying in this example that one method is or is not better than the other, I'm simply illustrating the point that the effect size is likely to be less generalisable than is commonly accepted.  Often the way we make the assessment is limited to what is easy to assess rather than the things that the Effect Subject is most geared to affect. Even if the Effect Size is positive, there is likely to be considerable uncertainty in the result and that uncertainty is not just about juggling statistics, it is more fundamental than that because there is almost certainly some uncertainty in the validity of the measures themselves. 

Another assumption is that there is not a limiting factor that could be removed that would completely change the result. In the homework example let's say most teachers were inept at setting meaningful homework because the training in targeting it well on learning and/or time for planning was insufficient. So the effect size of homework comes out as near zero. The implication is then to scrap all homework as a waste of time. An equally valid possibility is simply that for homework to have a significant effect, teachers need a specific type of training or a minimum amount of planning time. What if that is also specific to the context? It could be that teaching and teacher training always limit the effect size of any particular line of action (not too hard to imagine really) and that it would be very difficult to pin down because the required training was always dependent on the context ie difficult to generalise. If that was true, spending a lot of time arguing about (a) being more efffective than (b) when both would be massively more effective by a marginal effort with (c) really is fiddling while Rome burns.

Yet another assumption is that these effects are independent variables. By this I mean that if we measure an effect size in a controlled context it will always be the same size and if other factors are added in they should as discrete independent variables simply be summed by simple addition. That doesn't seem very plausible.  If we take, for example, web-based learning that has a very low effect size in Hattie's list, and providing formative evaluation which is very high, how do we know the effect size of combining them?  Let's say we have a formative web based system where learners can present their work and get formative evaluation and feedback on it. How would that be classified? How much does each make to the effect size? Would this result in an average or an addition of the variables or perhaps taking the lower from the higher? We just don't know until we do such an experiment. It begs the question too of what we mean by web based learning. Since web based learning is relatively new would it be a surprise if it was ineffective if the teachers were not familiar with the best way of using it? If the measure of success is to write about it on paper how valid is that assessment? We are back at assumption one and two.

Now I'm not saying knowing these effect sizes is not useful, but I think we need extreme caution in how the numbers are used. Those with strong political curriculum axes to grind will immediately start to cherry pick the numbers that best suit their arguments. We have already seen this in a number of blogs. The snag with numbers is that people believe them to be absolutes. If I measured my life processes in terms of contribution to my survival I might say sight 0.2, hearing 0.15, taste 0.1, respiration 1.0, food 1.0.  Clearly people can't live without respiration and food but we don't then simply dismiss the others as unimportant. What gives a quality of life is the optimisation of those factors in relation to each other. I think this is likely to be true of education too.

 

 

 

 

This is a provisional first analysis of the 40,000 plus childrens' answers in the 50 questions in the baseline test. More up to date figures from 55,000 now available here. The numbers in the cells are the percentage getting the question wrong. A large number indicates a difficult question a small number an easy question. So question 1 is the easiest on the paper and question 40 and question 9 are the two most difficult. Since there are 4 options, answering randomly should mean no numbers higher than 75. Questions with > 75 indicate there is a systematic common misconception. The average scores for year groups are here.

Question Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10
  Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All
1 2 4 3 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 3 4 4 2 3
2 44 53 49 49 56 53 42 49 46 36 48 42 31 40 36
3 57 45 51 53 44 49 44 33 39 40 29 35 30 23 27
4 36 36 36 37 33 35 32 28 30 29 28 29 28 27 28
5 51 51 51 54 50 52 46 43 45 44 39 42 36 34 35
6 73 75 74 73 76 75 67 72 70 62 69 66 51 63 57
7 54 65 60 60 63 62 45 47 46 39 39 39 26 31 29
8 64 58 61 60 59 60 59 55 57 57 53 55 48 48 48
9 85 83 84 85 87 86 86 87 87 85 88 87 77 84 81
10 54 56 55 57 60 59 57 60 59 54 59 57 50 57 54
11 56 59 58 58 57 58 54 52 53 52 51 52 44 47 46
12 77 88 83 79 81 80 76 77 77 74 75 75 61 64 63
13 80 81 81 78 82 80 77 80 79 79 82 81 75 82 79
14 61 62 62 57 59 58 58 59 59 56 58 57 51 55 53
15 46 63 55 47 59 53 34 41 38 24 32 28 20 29 25
16 76 76 76 78 80 79 77 80 79 76 78 77 68 75 72
17 85 78 82 80 82 81 76 78 77 73 76 75 62 71 67
18 61 64 63 64 61 63 60 56 58 57 51 54 47 45 46
19 15 21 18 19 21 20 15 15 15 13 12 13 10 11 11
20 45 47 46 46 47 47 41 40 41 37 39 38 26 33 30
21 73 68 71 71 71 71 69 70 70 68 70 69 66 67 67
22 78 72 75 74 72 73 76 74 75 77 77 77 74 71 73
23 70 57 64 68 64 66 64 59 62 61 56 59 52 52 52
24 60 70 65 62 68 65 57 63 60 52 63 58 43 58 51
25 79 71 75 75 71 73 69 66 68 66 61 64 58 54 56
26 49 51 50 53 52 53 53 52 53 52 52 52 50 50 50
27 60 63 62 58 56 57 50 46 48 46 40 43 32 32 32
28 28 20 24 33 26 30 30 22 26 30 23 27 21 21 21
29 52 51 52 56 57 57 56 59 58 60 65 63 60 63 62
30 50 42 46 47 43 45 37 33 35 33 30 32 25 27 26
31 48 45 47 56 51 54 55 48 52 56 48 52 56 50 53
32 69 78 74 71 75 73 67 72 70 66 70 68 49 62 56
33 68 78 73 70 73 72 65 69 67 64 67 66 54 62 58
34 75 69 72 73 76 75 71 78 75 72 78 75 61 79 70
35 79 71 75 78 76 77 78 76 77 78 76 77 69 71 70
36 75 77 76 76 76 76 77 78 78 76 78 77 78 81 80
37 66 70 68 66 67 67 63 61 62 61 58 60 53 54 54
38 74 76 75 70 71 71 67 68 68 65 66 66 60 62 61
39 81 85 83 83 81 82 82 80 81 82 81 82 75 77 76
40 83 87 85 88 88 88 86 85 86 86 85 86 84 83 84
41 78 74 76 74 73 74 69 68 69 65 64 65 50 51 51
42 65 64 65 71 71 71 62 60 61 59 57 58 51 55 53
43 86 85 86 82 84 83 81 84 83 81 82 82 73 79 76
44 73 66 70 72 73 73 72 73 73 73 75 74 72 75 74
45 62 64 63 60 65 63 56 62 59 53 59 56 44 54 49
46 76 72 74 78 77 78 74 76 75 74 74 74 68 69 69
47 79 79 79 79 78 79 77 77 77 76 75 76 73 74 74
48 74 69 72 76 72 74 73 69 71 71 67 69 65 70 68
49 68 69 69 68 69 69 66 65 66 65 64 65 58 57 58
50 65 65 65 69 67 68 67 65 66 64 62 63 58 58 58
 

The table  below shows the most common incorrect response to each question. You can see the questions here.

Question Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10
  Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All Boys Girls All
1

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

Square.

2

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

handlebars.

3

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

using the word password as your password.

4

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

contact the sender to check if it is true.

5

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

the diagram will be compatible with Microsoft office.

6

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

alternate rhythm.

7

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Python.

Logo.

Python.

Logo.

8

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

255 in all the squares in row 1 and 0 in all the squares in column 5 and all the others no number.

9

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the numbers from 1 to 20

Print the numbers from 1 to 20

Print the numbers from 1 to 20

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

Print the even numbers from 1 to 10

10

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

Computer simulations are only useful if they model complicated systems.

You can make a computer simulation that is more accurate than simple real world systems.

You can make a computer simulation that is more accurate than simple real world systems.

You can make a computer simulation that is more accurate than simple real world systems.

11

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

the most effective algorithm for finding the Ace of Clubs is number 3.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

the most effective algorithm for finding the Ace of Clubs is number 3.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

the most effective algorithm for finding the Ace of Clubs is number 3.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

the most effective algorithm for finding the Ace of Clubs is number 3.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

the most effective algorithm for finding the Ace of Clubs is number 3.

algorithm 1 is more effective than algorithm 2.

12

The variable number is written twice in the first line

Having two PRINT commands in the same short program is not a good idea

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

The variable number is written twice in the first line

13

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

.jpg

14

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

bitmap graphics

15

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

Search window

16

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

The owners of the address at the top of the list put it there because it is the most useful to you.

17

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

The code that is killed to prevent viruses spreading.

18

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The time taken by different cars to travel between the cities.

The distance between the two cities.

The time taken by different cars to travel between the cities.

19

pixies.

pilates.

pilates.

pixies.

pilates.

pilates.

pixies.

pixies.

pixies.

pixies.

pixies.

pixies.

pixies.

pixies.

pixies.

20

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

only copy the program code once.

21

Anyone can legally copy the source code.

It is free to copy.

Anyone can legally copy the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can legally copy the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can legally copy the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

Anyone can modify the source code.

22

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

morse code.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

bits of data transmitted as pulses down a wire.

23

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

is an expensive device for making old TVs compatible with new technology.

24

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

password.

25

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

data has to be secure but information is always free.

26

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

There is no pattern to this data other than the numbers are increasing in size.

There is no pattern to this data other than the numbers are increasing in size.

There is no pattern to this data other than the numbers are increasing in size.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

We can't say anything about the data unless we know where it came from.

27

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

prevent copyright infringement.

28

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

show that the hard drive is working in a computer.

29

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

piracy.

30

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

numbers and characters.

31

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

you might fall out with your friend later and then they could delete all your work.

32

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

that is developed by the community.

33

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

secure.

accurate.

accurate.

accurate.

34

A motherboard.

A power supply.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A power supply.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

A motherboard.

35

must have a lot of RAM.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of RAM.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of RAM.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of RAM.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of RAM.

must have a lot of hard disc storage space.

must have a lot of RAM.

36

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

you could damage components with static electricity from your body if you touch them.

37

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

42.

38

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

0110001.

39

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives consume less power resulting in longer battery life.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

 Solid state drives can provide data more quickly than hard drives.

40

 must be bigger than one.

 must be a whole number.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be a whole number.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be a whole number.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be a whole number.

 must be a whole number.

 must be bigger than one.

 must be a whole number.

41

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

a number with a decimal point.

42

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic circle.

a logic gate.

a logic circle.

a logic gate.

43

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

finishing in end box 4.

44

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

finishing in end box 5.

45

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An iteration.

An aberration.

46

An algorithm.

An aberration.

An algorithm.

An algorithm.

An algorithm.

An algorithm.

An algorithm.

An aberration.

An algorithm.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

An aberration.

47

1, 2, 3, 6, 8

1, 2, 3, 6, 8

1, 2, 3, 6, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

1, 2, 3, 6, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

2, 3, 5, 8

48

to sort out the times tables so they can be printed to teach young children.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out the times tables so they can be printed to teach young children.

to sort out the times tables so they can be printed to teach young children.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out the times tables so they can be printed to teach young children.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out numbers that are multiples of 2 but can't be divided by any numbers less than 10.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out numbers that are multiples of 2 but can't be divided by any numbers less than 10.

to sort out odd and even numbers.

to sort out numbers that are multiples of 2 but can't be divided by any numbers less than 10.

49

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

98 and 130.

50

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

that what is inside the bracket is data and what is outside is an instruction.

 

 

pupilAWe now have over 1000 individual teachers in the NAACE/TLM baseline testing Google group with more joining each day. 580 schools have made accounts on the web site and 40,000 pupils have been tested with between 1500 and 2000 per day adding to the total. Not bad for an idea that started last May with a post in a CAS forum.  At present we are just doing Computing focused on the 10 to 15 age range (although some teachers and support staff are also taking the test). There is demand to move down to primary and to extend to maths and science. We are planning to do this during the coming year starting with KS2. Our international partners are also interested so we will take this global as soon as we can work out the logistics for language translations and server capacity.

Why is baseline testing of interest?

Finding out what children know before and after formal teaching is a rare opportunity. Computing is a new subject and is therefore an ideal target for collecting empirical data. With a simple test we should be able to determine what children know, where there are general widespread deficiencies on which to target teaching and whether individuals and departments are making faster or slower progress than their peers over a period of time. We will also be able to determine whether a cohort is stronger or weaker than a previous cohort, whether boys make faster progress than girls, which subjects students find easy and difficult. We are also making available free evidence management, progress tracking and reporting tools so that optionally schools can support formative assessment and on-going progress monitoring through the programmes of study as well. This is particularly relevant to tracking progress post levels and reducing the administrative overhead on teachers while maintining the flow of good quality information.

So why free?

The reason to make these things free is to lower barriers to entry and encourage take up. The greater the participation the more valuable the data is in terms of scope for analysis and feedback. We need a statistically valid sample of the national data if the resource is to be of maximum value to the individuals in the community using it. This is a situation where the more that join in the better it is for everyone. The on-line systems have already been developed and they are in use to support other paid for services so there is no big overhead in making them available for this purpose although that could change when we go international. In addition we are providing a focus for teachers to enrich their own learning in cloud based systems which must then have a beneficial spin off for pupils. There is also free membership of NAACE as an added value for participation.  

How to participate

To participate add your e-mail address to the Google Group ask for an account by clicking on sign up on the INGOT Markbook watch the 7 minute video of how to set up your pupil accounts. Visit the Computing Resources web site for further background. 

You can see the current breakdown of the statistics and this is only a beginning. We will produce tables with a question by question analysis, generate progress profiles for pupils and departments that will be confidential to the school while using the aggregated data eg to make comparisons between cohorts or perhaps countries. PISA does not enable anyone to join in, with the baseline testing anyone can check their progress against live national and international data. Our first priority was to get some data before any significant teaching started. Now that has been accomplished we are looking at providing useful information to schools from the data in a form that is easy for them to understand and use. We do real time analysis so there should be no administrative overhead. We just need a little time with the help of the community to refine the process. 

 

 

Education Managment Principles

  • Bureaucratic procedures are not rigour in themselves.
  • Analyse the supply chain and eradicate any unnecessary process or procedure.
  • Train staff better so you can eliminate bureaucratic controls.
  • If there is not the occassional glitch a complex system is not optimised for efficiency.
  • Make sure you know how to fix occasional glitches.
  • Put the effort and resources into the biggest risk that requires the least effort.
  • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.

 

 

When is a GCSE not a GCSE? When its an IGCSE.  Surely an IGCSE must be a GCSE? It has GCSE in its commonly used title. Condition E2 of the Ofqual regulations for awarding organisations states.

E2.3 An awarding organisation must ensure that each qualification which it makes available, or proposes to make available, has a title which it uses consistently in its advertising and in its communications with users of qualifications.
 
E2.4 An awarding organisation must ensure that the titles of qualifications which it makes available, or proposes to make available, are not misleading to users of qualifications.
 
So how many users of IGCSE think it is a GCSE? How is it possible to get more misleading than that? How many people have seen iGCSE rather than IGCSE?
 
IGCSE edexcel image
 
The use of a small i is pretty blatant misleading marketing trying to associate something that has nothing to do with either the internet or Apple products with these to make it more saleable. IGSE (with a capital I) is a registered trademark of Cambridge International Examinations. It was used to brand qualifications sold abroad and was "leveraging" (horrible word) the GCSE brand. GCSE itself is not trademarked by the DfE and so probably nothing illegal about that although it could be argued that the trademarks office should not allow it because GCSE was already in such common usage. When Apple enjoyed huge success with the iphone and ipad everyone wanted to jump on the "i" band waggon for obvious marketing reasons. I can only assume they don't know bout this "intellectual property theft" because usually they are very quick to take legal action to protect their branding. Since the trademark is IGCSE with a capital I and TES twitter account, Ofqual and DfE have all used the small i it is again evidence of misleading titling in advertising and contrary to the Ofqual conditions of regulation. In fact as far as I know IGCSEs are very traditional paper based exams so very much not to do with the internet or Apple Computer. 
 
Ok so IGCSE is not a GCSE and nothing to do with Apple. Why was it taken up in independent schools? The main argument is that it is more rigorous. Let's look at this in a bit more detail related to its origins and purpose. Cambridge International Exams has a very lucrative market selling qualifications abroad. Nothing wrong with that at all I hasten to add, this is more about understanding motivation. International schools are generally not into coursework assessment and at the time GCSEs were heavily committed to it. How do you sell qualifications abroad when the customer wants the UK brands "Cambridge" and GCSE but does not want coursework? Easy, remove the coursework. It also makes it far less expensive to deliver so your margins are better. Good business. If we aren't bothered about coursework why bother with any of the other regulatory complications associated with real GCSEs? Back in England the independent sector is not goverened by the statutory requirements of the state system. They don't need coursework because mostly their pupils are following highly academic routes and they are motivated by parental pressure because daddy and mummy are paying a lot of money for them to be there. So while they needed a GCSE label they didn't need the "rigour of GCSE" in terms of the regulations. Also it's less hassle for the teachers to not to have to deal with coursework.
 
A new Secretary of State comes along who does not understand how anything works. It looks logical to him that these IGCSE things must be tougher because that is the reason the independent schools say they are doing them. Might it not be just as likely that its actually easier and less expensive to deliver rather than its just tougher? In any case, SoS stands up and says we must allow these things called IGCSEs in the state sector to count the same as GCSEs to stop the rot in the less rigorous GCSEs. Great business decision for Cambridge International Assessment and those they allow to license the IGCSE brand but I can hear the anguish at Ofqual. Now if IGCSEs are more difficult and grade inflation was caused by a race to the bottom among these same Awarding Organisations as a result of league table points, why would any state school adopt IGCSEs? Not much logic there as far as I can see. Would the private sector use these if they did not have GCSE in the title but had the same content? What does that tell us about appropriateness for learning compared to branding and marketing?
 
The new attainment 8 and progress 8 measures are based on maths and English GCSEs and three Ebacc subjects plus 3 "others". Now the "others" can not be in the same subjects as Ebacc GCSEs so that counts out IGCSE because the GCSE 5 have to be GCSEs not equivalents. The DfE can not sustain a rule that says only Ebacc GCSEs and keep IGCSE when IGCSE does not conform to even the old, never mind the new GCSE criteria. Otherwise every other awarding organisation offering non-GCSEs that count in the league tables will want to be allowed to use GCSE in their marketing and titles.
 
It's probably a good job that the opposition and the journalists don't understand these technical issues because this is a manifest example of a cock-up that never got reported. It also shows why Secretaries of State have such big problems with education. Superficially it looks simple but just going to school is as misleading as IGCSE in a title in terms of understanding how it all works. Successive governments have generated more and more complexity to the point where an incoming uniformed minister is simply waiting to tread on the next mine. 
 
 
 
 

write

My handwriting is pretty bad, not just in style, but in speed and just about every respect. My mind is quite quick so as I child I found the painstaking task of committing thoughts to paper a real bind. I actively avoided any written communication and took to things cerebral where hand control motor skills were not a limiting factor and sport where I wasn't so hampered either. I did a maths and physics degree so I didn't have to do joined up handwriting anymore. If I had a more severe disability eg no hands, would I be forced to take my exams clutching a pen between my wrists? Of course not so why put me at a disadvatage by making me handwrite essays in English when I would never write extendedly like this for any other purpose? Am I hand writing this blog entry, photograping it and posting the image? No, I could do that but it would be a stupid way to provide the information. 

Sadly my youngest son inherited a lot of my limitations. I was once conducting a whole school CPD session on assessment and provided the whole staff of the school with three pieces of work. I asked them to estimate the age and attainment of the three students that provided the work based on its content. For the first piece of work which was about food they said it was probably a top end primary school child of average ability. For the second they said average year 11 and for the third, definitely post 16 of A level standard. The truth is it was the same person's work, my youngest son. The first piece was in his handwriting, for the second I got my wife (neatest writer in the house) to re-write a piece of his GCSE coursework and the third was a laser printed music score he composed on a home computer. So this is why I'm rather skeptical of those that seem to think handwriting is some vital skill. Indeed on the evidence I have it is not only a largely redundant skill, it has the potential to lower standards by discouraging people like me from participating in subjects that have a large dependency on it simply because it put me at a very significant disadvantage in examinations. The argument that it is important in exams so we should give those that are weak at it more and more of it for practice has two flaws. Firstly, that might have been an argument in the pre-computer age because so much was dependent on handwriting but now it is only exams that have such dependencies and since exams are a means to an end it is they that should change or it really is the tail wagging the dog. Secondly, there is an opportunity cost in teaching cursive writing. At what point does this detract from other more important learning? Even if we show that writing cursively helps memory, the real question is whether it is the best method of doing it, not whether it does it at all.

On the memory theme, should we spend hours in school getting children to copy large chumks of text from books because they will remember it better? I remember a physics teacher we had who dictated literally pages and pages of notes every lesson. I don't think I especially remembered anything much except struggling to keep up and getting writers' cramp. If we want to play a "systems card" like you need it for exams, I'd counter with any OFSTED team finding teaching like that would likely put the school in special measures.

So am I saying ban the teaching of handwriting? This polarisation is typical of Twitter. No I'm not saying that at all. I'm flagging this up to make people think that a lot of the conventional wisdom about handwriting is misguided and from a bygone era. We are in a state of transition so it is not realistic to ban it altogether but certainly we should be teaching efficient use of a keyboard. (Not necessarily touch typing – there is a whole raft of other arguments to have about that) such that thoughts can be committed to "paper" efficiently as they come. For those that pick up handwriting quickly and fluently, no point in stopping them but for those that don't, provide them with alternative means and don't waste too much time "flogging dead horses". Of course this does require another change. The majority of work done in school needs to better reflect how it is done outside. ie on a computer. This is still very patchy and there is a chicken and egg situation. While there is over dependency on the use of paper and pen in day to day work handwriting is a necessary skill, concentrating on teaching handwriting at the expense of keyboard skills and wider IT skills perpetuates the dependency on recording directly to paper. 

As with most hings this is a people problem not a technology problem. Until most people teaching in primary schools make the transition from paper dependency themselves, widespread change is unlikely. And of course entrentching the current generation of 5 year olds in these dependencies means the mismatch is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.