I am marking GCSE narrative controlled assessments and experiencing a rainbow of emotions: self-pity for the fact that I am slumped here doing it on a rain-soaked Sunday, defeat in the face of repeated basic errors, and amusement at some of the antics of the characters.
About half-way through, I have tears in my eyes. I am touched by a mother’s bereavement and the writer’s success in shaping my response to it. And then I consider the mark, and feel shame – and more sadness – when I realise how low it may be. The weighting given to technical accuracy in the new criteria has hammered it down to at least a grade lower than common sense says it deserves (and lower than it would have been awarded last year).
Of course, as his teacher I am partly responsible for his lack of full stops, and I will be having a word with him about this next lesson, but this year the goal posts have been moved, and we have been given no chance to practise. I feel sorry for this pupil and his peers, and just hope that I can help them see that their stories are worth telling, no matter what the mark.