Most Fridays I go for a 10K run with friends, although, post- having Covid, it will take me a while to get back to that level of fitness. And there is a clear ritual to the process. Each week, a map of the proposed route is posted on Facebook. At some point in the course of every run, Brian says, When I said that [previous hill] was the last hill, I had forgotten about this one ... and I always respond, To be fair, the route is always flat on the map ...
Maps are incredibly helpful but limited. A road atlas doesn’t show the topography, or let you know where there are roadworks or traffic jams. Maps need additional information, and interpretation.
We can think of exams as maps. They tell us something, and they certainly aren’t a waste of everyone’s time, but there is plenty they don’t tell us. A pupil’s exam results don’t tell us the road they travelled to get there, the additional challenges they faced and had to overcome. We can locate where someone is on the map, but it is possible that one child got there climbing a steep ascent, while another child got to the same location, from another starting point, by way of a flat route or even a free-wheeling downhill section. Exam results can never be truly comparative. But, taken with other information, they can be helpful in making decisions about where to go from here.
The past few years have been incredibly challenging for our youngest son, Elijah, not primarily to do with the pandemic. But he has achieved an amazing set of GCSE results, and we are proud of and delighted for him.
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