Exams have been devalued by politicians and education damaged over decades

A letter from Dr Gerald Morgan:

By Letters
Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 4:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 4:34 pm
Politicians have been devaluing exam grades, writes Dr Gerald Morgan
Politicians have been devaluing exam grades, writes Dr Gerald Morgan

In his latest column (‘Exam grade inflation is rooted in sentimentality about pupils, August 14, see link below) and in previous columns, Ben Lowry understands the importance of A levels and the grammar school in Northern Ireland.

And I think that the Belfast News Letter has a great part to play in these important debates.

I had written many times about grade inflation in the years before that (beginning with a document entitled Marks and Classes in 1969) as academic standards in Dublin University (Trinity College Dublin) continued to decline.

Letter to the editor

Forget about the photo shoots of happy examinees with inflated marks. It is mere state propaganda.

I still remember the shock in Oxford when PPE (Politics, Philosophy, Economics) declared 49 firsts in 1964. There were 18 in English. Not including me but including my brilliant friend Nick Jacobs (Winchester and Christ Church).

Every year since then we have devalued his degree.

Think of the former UK health minister Matt Hancock (PPE Exeter College, Oxford) as an Oxford First if you like. I think he is a fool.

I recall one of my first students at Trinity in Dublin in 1969 from Moy, in Co Tyrone, with four As at A levels (no asterisks in those days).

I was impressed then and he went on to study the poet Edmund Spenser at Oxford.

I wouldn’t be impressed today. However many asterisks, and however photogenic he or she might be..

To our politicians: please grow up. You (not Gavin Williamson) have been destroying our educational system for decades out of mere envy of our brilliant and best students and scholars.

Dr Gerald Morgan, Dublin

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