WISBECH: Speech day at Grammar School

Wisbech Grammar School annual speech day - some of the prize winners with the Headmaster Nicholas Hammond (right), Professor Michael Thorne from Anglia Ruskin next to him and John Warren (centre) the vice chair of governors.

Wisbech Grammar School annual speech day - some of the prize winners with the Headmaster Nicholas Hammond (right), Professor Michael Thorne from Anglia Ruskin next to him and John Warren (centre) the vice chair of governors.

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Governments that meddle with education have been attacked by Wisbech Grammar School headmaster Nicholas Hammond in his annual speech day address.

At the prize-giving ceremony on Friday Mr Hammond said that the latest set of education reforms had plunged schools once again into an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability.

He said: “Government and education do not mix well. I’m beginning to think that they don’t mix at all.

“As this summer’s marking fiasco in part demonstrated, we have exams which are being marked harder, but with no greater degree of accuracy.

“In the course of this exams season and the subsequent appeals season, we have seen some of our students improve grades by two or three letter grades.

“This is good in some regards, but surely a searing indictment of a flawed system administered by the self-interested and operated by, in some cases, the barely qualified and questionably competent. We need our exams to be freed from commercial concerns and we need fewer of them.”

However, the school had focused on the three ‘Es’ that education should be all about – exciting, enriching and ennobling – and the A-Level leavers returning to receive their prizes were embodiments of the success of that process.

They had negotiated a demanding schedule of public exams and they had shown themselves worthy of the grades they had achieved.

The prizes were presented by the guest of honour, Professor Michael Thorne, vice chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, which is based in Cambridge and Chelmsford.

The vice chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University challenged the instrumental attitude to education that has become widespread when he spoke at the Wisbech Grammar School speech day.

Professor Michael Thorne, who was the guest of honour at the annual prize-giving, said that the Grammar School was a wonderful place because it was about so much more than results.

He said: “There is clearly a concentration on those all-important qualifications, but it is also wonderful because there is so much more going on in the school.”