Richard Ord: Why we need an animal-based grading structure for exams

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If he sticks in with his exams, I really do think our eldest son could walk out with a herd of elephants.

He’s been a straight giraffe student all year, but with a bit of luck he could be looking at a mix of elephants and antelope or even, fingers crossed, the holy grail of a golden hippo.

If Bradley, 16, comes home with a platypus, however, he’s in big trouble.

Confused? You want to try and decipher the GCSE grading system this year!

It’s so arbitrary they might as well of replaced the grades with animals.

The traditional A to G (and the dreaded U for ungraded) have been jettisoned and replaced with a new one to nine grading.

And while that sounds simple enough, you may be surprised to learn that ‘one’ is the worst grade.

Yes, being number one is a disaster.

If you want to succeed in life, you really want to aim for that nine!

What were the examining boards thinking when they came up with this doozy?

It’s a classic case of decision by committee.

Where, in life, is attaining a nine the epitome of success?

Have you ever heard anyone talk about scoring a perfect nine?

Those people who make giant foam fingers must be cursing the exam boards.

They are going to have to replace the traditional ‘number one’ foam finger with two foam hands, one holding up five foam fingers with the other holding up four!

Couldn’t they have pushed the boundaries just a wee bit and gone for a 10 as the best grade?

If it’s good enough for Bo Derek, it’s good enough for our kids, surely.

Of course, the powers-that-be in education started the rot. The A to G grades were fine until some bright spark decided to go one better and introduce the A* star.

It was the educational equivalent of Spinal Tap turning the volume up to 11.

As it is, they can do that for real now. How long do you think it’ll be until they shift the grades up and up? This year’s nine will be 2020’s 11.

To add to the confusion, this year’s exams are a mix of A to G grades and one to nines. Some subjects are still including coursework as part of the overall mark, which elicited this head spinning conversation with our Bradley.

Me: “How did you get on in the exam.”

Brad: “Okay. I think I got a B but I only needed a C to get an A.”

I didn’t dare ask what the subject was. Advanced Brain Scrambling, I assume.

Personally, I’d be far more comfortable with an animal based grading structure.

Who could be upset at leaving school with a clutch of koala bears and a rhinoceros to your name? For our generation, it’s just as logical as the current grading system.

My animal system would also share one similarity with a A-G grades. I mean, no one wants to leave school with a ewe.