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From: The Socialist issue 1116, 13 January 2021: Our health and livelihoods before their profits

Search site for keywords: Education - Young people - Jobs - Students - Capitalist - Working-class

Exams scrapped again - young people need a future with jobs and free education

photo David Hawgood/CC

photo David Hawgood/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Gray, Devon Socialist Party

In another Tory U-turn, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told the second class of Covid that A-level and GCSE exams will not be taking place at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Rather, their results will depend on teacher moderation. A welcome change from the anti-working class algorithm that under-graded countless working-class students last year.

The exam season produces a lot of anxiety in students; understandably so. They are told their careers, which in a capitalist society translates to their lives, depend on the results. Most students have the same desire - to one day be able to qualify for a well-paid job that does not entail the worst aspects of exploitation that large sections of the working class have to go through.

However, entering the second major capitalist crisis in just twelve years, students are now realising the chances of their desires being realised are ever-slimmer. This makes the pressure of exams even more difficult and youth anxiety levels have been rapidly rising.

The pressures of exams, as well as the changes as a result of the pandemic, have led some to the conclusion that exams should be completely replaced by teacher assessments on a permanent basis.

Exams should be scrapped. But just like anyone else, teachers can hold views that reflect the prejudices that exist in wider society. These attitudes, often unconscious, can lead to working-class students, and others who are discriminated against, being treated unfairly.

Working-class students often witness their parents suffer from brutal capitalist exploitation and the side-effects of that each day, which in turn makes school life much harder.

The lack of prospects for working-class students also mean they are less likely to buy the myth "if you work hard, you will succeed". Whatever the reason, the results are the same, teachers are less likely to see their potential, and therefore more likely to downgrade them.

Neither exams nor teacher assessment can provide students with the fair evaluation they deserve in a capitalist society. The issues with both methods stem from the inequality, poverty and prejudice that capitalist society creates.

It is only when young people have a future of full employment and decent pay that we will see students faced with less pressure on a few weeks when they are just 16.

It is only when education is free and accessible to all that people will be able to fulfil their potential and fully explore their interests. This will only be possible on the basis of a socialist society.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 13 January 2021

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