I hate it when I’m right. I had a feeling the IGCSE exam boards in the UK might not follow Wales – and now England’s GCSE example, by resisting to cancel Lu’s exams.
My first glimpse of it came on Wednesday evening. The super helpful teacher from Bermuda wrote to me. Don’t worry, he wrote, IGCSE exams were going ahead after all. He even put an exclamation mark in the title of the email – like a symbolic high-five. I looked down at it. Urghh.
It now seems the IGCSEs are the only exam board in the whole of the UK which haven’t cancelled Year 11 exams. Why? Well, there’s the official answer and the unofficial answer. I discovered the official answer is because they aren’t part of the UK’s governmental regulatory body, Ofqual. They don’t have to. Simple pimple.
The unofficial answer? Could it have anything to do with IGCSEs being the curriculum of choice for many private British schools? Does it have anything to do with justifying their fees? I wonder. But it’s none of my business; how money is made and generated through the academic system. What expectations they have. I do agree that exams are probably a better indicator of student achievement then teacher-based assessments. Right now, we’re just on the receiving end of it.
InterHigh is too. Judging by the headteacher reading out the pupils’ comments and questions in today’s online InterHigh assembly meeting, our school is the definition of being caught between a rock and a hard place. Because InterHigh is an international online school, people were giving their experiences from different countries. One family said that their country’s school exam centres wouldn’t accept external students because of Covid regulations, but they can’t fly their child to a UK exam centre either. No flights. Ouch. I watched the headteacher flinch at that one. He was the only one with a video feed.
Unfortunately, he explained he isn’t in charge of this decision. The school is waiting for further information from the exam board. When we know anything, the school finds it out too. The poor teachers have had to hustle and re-group so many times this year, it’s been dizzying to watch.
At this point, maybe I’m wrong, but it would seem the most logical thing is to have the option of taking exams or having teacher-based assessments. This was mentioned at the assembly. The teachers agreed. Now, everyone is waiting on stand-by.
All this detail serves to remind me. The larger picture. If we’ve been taught anything over the last year, it’s been how to cope with uncertainty. You keep going. You try and stay calm. You focus on the outcome you can realistically achieve – and work from there. But does it drive you crazy? Make you sit yourself down and let the world spin for a while? More and more, we are realising this is all you can do. Sit yourself down. Watch. We’re spinning.