Monday, 30 June 2008


by Charles Pooter

English examiners have been told to award marks to pupils who write obscenities on their exam papers:

Pupils are being rewarded for writing obscenities in their GCSE English examinations even when it has nothing to do with the question.

One pupil who wrote “f*** off” was given marks for accurate spelling and conveying a meaning successfully.

His paper was marked by Peter Buckroyd, a chief examiner who has instructed fellow examiners to mark in the same way.
“It would be wicked to give it zero, because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for – like conveying some meaning and some spelling. It’s better than someone that doesn’t write anything at all. It shows more skills than somebody who leaves the page blank.”
Can you believe this guy? Has he not heard of Cage's 4′3″? What about the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square? By leaving an exam paper blank it may well be that the student is making an incisive statement about our inability to say anything new without descending into cliché. The student may also be making a relevant political statement, refusing to endorse the neo-liberal hegemony by taking part in the regime's examination system.

Clearly Buckroyd is a conservative reactionary who cannot recognise post-modern criticism when he sees it. He is a dinosaur, stuck in the late 20th Century, still clinging to his social realist certainties where a “fuck off” is better than a blank page. Who is he to attempt to transform his subjective judgements into objective statements of fact?

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