I feel compelled to write about the Daily Telegraph’s recent expose on exam boards because I know one of the teachers who appears in a video on the website, and who has apparently been suspended following the article.
The man in question is Dr Paul Evans of Denbigh High School, and formerly Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin. He only ever taught me a few hours of General Studies, but to this day, I believe I would’ve studied History to GCSE and possibly A-level if he had taught me in Year 9. And I regret that. He was well-known throughout the school as being a great teacher, not only for his passion for his subject but also for his ability to communicate with students in a way that actually got through to them. I can’t remember if I had already left Brynhyfryd when I heard he was moving to Denbigh High, but I do remember thinking it would be a great loss to Brynhyfryd.
And now onto the scandal of – shock horror – teachers knowing that questions are cyclical and passing on this knowledge to other teachers and students. Frankly I would be concerned if a teacher with many years experience had not cottoned onto this fact. The real scandal here is the Daily Telegraph featuring an expose in 2011 when this has been going on since before I left school 10 years ago. British journalism is apparently in the same sorry state that the education system is in.
I was taught at GCSE and A-level in a way that allowed me to gain good exam results, because guess what? Teachers and schools are rewarded for good exam results! I was lucky to have many excellent teachers, including Dr Evans’s wife, who all had to deal with limited time to teach broad syllabuses, usually to large classes of varying educational standard.
I went on to an excellent university where, like many universities, you can buy past exam papers to aid your revision. It is not difficult to notice that questions here are also cyclical. Or if you’re really lucky, they ask the same 10 questions every year, and you only have to answer 3. How many would you bother revising? I always chose 4, just in case they threw in something different.I have since gone on to study a module with the Open University, where I gained excellent marks for basically quoting their own textbook back to them.
It is absolutely disgusting that Dr Evans is being used as a scapegoat of this whole debacle, when it is plain to see from just one student’s point of view, that this is not cheating. It is simply the way things are done in this education system. Making Dr Evans out to be the bad guy and suspending him just shows how ridiculously out of touch the Daily Telegraph and Denbigh High School and anyone else badmouthing him is.
As quoted from Elizabeth Truss MP in this Guardian article, “It’s a mistake to say there’s a few rotten apples [in the exam system], this is a symptom of a wider problem with the way the system is structured, that we need to deal with.”