School censors science exam papers to remove offensive questions on evolution

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

A video report on the BBC, reports extraordinary goings-on in North London, where the tax-payer funded Yesodey Hatorah Girls' School has been removing questions on evolution from GCSE science papers before their students could answer them.

The examination board in question, OCR, rather than being affronted at this practice, merely says it was satisfied that the girls did not have an unfair advantage because they actually lost marks.  However, even more extraordinarily, it seems it now plans to formalise the process, saying it has come to an agreement with the school to "protect the future integrity of the exams", whatever that means.  Maybe, OCR will now send papers to the school already blacked out to save teachers the bother of doing it themselves.  Or perhaps the school will get its own individual exam papers with offending questions removed.  If so, this is quite a service OCR is offering.

The Department of Education, meanwhile, is in catch-up mode and has asked the school for assurances that the children are being taught the full science curriculum.  It must be very doubtful that the school is doing this.  I mean, why would you bother when [i] you don't want your students to learn what is in the science syllabus, and [ii] you've no intention of letting them sit exams on it anyway?   It's most likely, of course, that the school is just being considerate towards its poor students as there is no point their answering the questions, because they've been taught the wrong answers.  Whilst you can understand a school with fundamentalist, if unscientific, ideas about evolution wanting to do this, It is much harder to see why an exam board would even thinking about conniving at it.

This is actually quite an old story.  It appeared in the Guardian, and in the Huffington Post back in October.  This is from the Guardian:

The exam censorship came to light after complaints by the National Secular Society, after comments by Rabbi Avraham Pinter, the principal of Yesodey Hatorah, to the Jewish Chronicle, in which he said "sometimes Charedi schools, if they find anything in the paper which could be offensive to parents, advise children to avoid that question.

The BBC has republished the story, some 5 months on, because it has evidence in email between OCR and Ofqual, the regulator, that this is not just a one-off example of rewriting the curriculum.  I've no idea what Mr Gove is doing to stop this nonsense.  Time for another letter to my MP.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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