Gavin Boyd has described his current CCEA role as “voluntary”. He just happens to be paid £150,000 per annum for his altruism. In testimony to the Northern Ireland Education Committee he claimed to have been brought in to the organisation “to raise standards in the organisation” and “drive up efficiencies”. Consider the following and decide if Mr Boyd’s affinity for self-assessment and an extensive proclivity for profligacy could be behind his frequent lapses in judgement.
So PACE will share a few names and faces to make accountable those who sat on CCEA’s remuneration committee in May 2008 and ignored requirements to have the Department of Education review and approve payments made to the “Top Management Team”
While Northern Ireland Education Minister, John O’Dowd pushes forward with his undemocratic removal of grammar schools by denying parents choice, the opposite is happening in England. Nick Gibb has called for the expansion of grammar school places. His support for the aims of the National Grammar Schools Association is to be welcomed. There can be little wonder about O’Dowd’s reluctance to admit the failures of comprehensive education available across the Irish Sea. Forty- plus years of evidence is inconvenient for Sinn Fein. Today’s Daily Express highlights an expansion of grammar school places as a good move.
Read the full story here: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/254638/Grammar-school-comment
A further article appeared in the DailyExpress http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/254638/Grammar-school-comment
and in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8592624/Grammar-schools-should-be-allowed-to-expand-says-Gibb.html
Why have the ETI, the Schools Inspctorate, been called in at short notice to review Cambridge House and hastily place a grammar school in special measures? Check the ETI website http://www.etini.gov.uk/ and determine how often the ETI revisit schools – it is usually many years between visits. It has been suggested to PACE by well-placed sources that the DENI were contacted by a disgruntled employee at Cambridge House Grammar School. The Inspection visit was a consequence. Now consider the aim of Sinn Fein Minister, John O’Dowd to end grammar schools in Northern Ireland and the difficulties that Ronnie Hazzard, principal of Ballymena Academy, has incurred over the integrity of the GL Assessment exam used to determine admissions to Ballymena Academy, Slemish College and St Louis Grammar School. Only Cambridge House uses the AQE test and has remained unsoiled by the use of a suspect test. Minister O’Dowd is currenly conducting an investigation into the GL Assessment and PPTC debacle.
For those with an eye for detail notice that the BBC Northern Ireland Report on Cambridge House Grammar school is dated June 17th 2011. The ETI published the Inspection Report for public consumption on the 22nd June 2011 robbing parents and the Ballymena public of an opportunity to immediately respond to the BBC story. Parents may suspect that the Northern Ireland media are a mere extension of the DENI’s publicity/propaganda machine.
The latest mistake by an examinations body, AQA, containedin the GCSE Mathematics Unit 2 Foundation paper has resulted in the clearest evidence yet that the Regulator for Qualifications in Northern Ireland is not fit for purpose. The Regulator had committed to protect pupils from further mistakes after a flood of errors in this year’s examinations. Roger McCune is the Regulator of Qualifications, he is employed by and works for CCEA.
CCEA are the Examinations body for Northern Ireland they set, SELL and mark examination papers. Put simply, Roger McCune and CCEA regulate themselves.
This may explain the persistent problem over lack of accountability when examination paper mistakes are uncovered. It is little wonder that the Chief execuive of CCEA, Gavin Boyd, appears teflon-coated when embarrassing stories appear. A simple template-like statement from the Regulator/CCEA employee appears to solve his problem
” I am asking for detail on the number of candidates affected in Northern Ireland and will be seeking reassurances from the awarding bodies that no candidate is disadvantaged by these incidents.”
This is CCEA’s idea of “rewarding learning” Failed quality standards in producing examinations and failed accountability standards in regulation. Why would the public have any confidence in CCEA?
What Gavin Boyd, Roger McCune or the education correspondents of the local papers fail to point out is that the CCEA and the Regulator are two sides of the same coin. Reassurances from either or both are meaningless and valueless. Neither party will criticize the other and often refer to the other in abstract terms. Read the Belfast Telegraph story P16 22/6/2011 http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/education/fury-at-northern-ireland-maths-exam-blunder-16014679.html
Caught like deer in the headlights Northern Ireland’s examination body, CCEA have had to admit to blunders in the 2011 exam cycle after first denying them. PACE had contacted the Belfast Telegraph about errors in the A-level maths paper after contact from teachers concerned about a mistake in the further maths paper. When the Belfast Telegraph contacted CCEA they denied any problems with their exams but pointed the reporter to an English exam board.
See the BBC story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13714383 No doubt the Belfast Telegraph and Ofqual may have more to say on the matter.
The examinations watchdog Ofqual has been sleeping while different awarding bodies have prepared examination papers placed before thousands of pupils this year laden with mistakes and cruelly containing questions impossible to answer. The warning issued by Ofqual, describing the situation as
“disappointing and unacceptable”.
The exams watchdog Ofqual has warned exams bodies to double check test papers to avoid mistakes that disrupted three A level tests this year.
The English, Welsh and Northern Ireland exams bodies have been told that recent mistakes in question papers were “disappointing and unacceptable”. but the warning comes too late for this years pupils and underscores the lax accountability relationship between the watchdog, the regulators and the various examination bodies.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13703784
CCEA, headed up by Gavin Boyd, claimed that none of the papers containing mistakes came from them. * See update http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13714383
With the Northern Ireland regulator Roger McCune working inside the same organisation and building as the examination body CCEA there can be no excuse for the further failures. When will the accountability of the Assembly kick in?
Any Questions, Chris Woodhead, Sunday Times, 5 June 2011.
Q: Our daughter has achieved the required marks — 121 — in the exam for a local grammar school in Buckinghamshire and we live within the school’s catchment area. Yet our daughter was refused a place. We understand that 19 children who scored fewer than 121 marks have been offered places on appeal. Is this legal and, even if it is, is it morally right or fair? Marie McGurin, Buckinghamshire.
A: I am pleased to hear that since writing to me you have learnt that your appeal against this decision has been successful. I think grammar schools should admit the children who do best in the entrance tests, so this seems to me the right outcome.
The education lawyer Jack Rabinowicz tells me that any parent contemplating an appeal should check the details on their child’s application form against the admissions criteria because the process can, and sometimes does, go wrong.
There are four issues to consider if you do go to appeal.
- One, is there a basic flaw in the admissions criteria that renders the decision not to award a place invalid?
- Two, were the criteria correctly applied?
- Three, is the school oversubscribed?
- Four, is there a particular reason why your child needs to go to this school?
Given that Gavin Boyd’s tenure at CCEA started on a claim that the exam errors which resulted in the dismissal of his predecessor would not happen again it seems bizarre that the Stormont MLAs remain silent on the latest error on his watch. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1527663.stm
It would seem that Gavin Boyd’s investigation precluded the possibility of human error such as lining up two pieces of paper, one with the incorrect grade boundaries could ever happen. The Education Committee bought it back in 2001. Will they buy Gvin Boyd’s excuses in 2011?