Exam results warning and Bike Ride update

09 Aug 2009

 It's August so - exams results apart - there is no serious education news to report or policy to analyse. In fact, forget the 'exam results apart' bit. There is so much ill-informed comment, and sensationalist headline writing, surrounding the results season that the whole thing is best quietly ignored.

 After all  we do not get the real data on results day. So we do not learn whether a greater or lesser proportion of the age cohort has succeeded (these statistics come out several months later). All we get is the pass rate as a percentage of all candidates entered.  This can be misleading.

For example, when Curriculum 2000 came in, and with it the creation of AS levels, the pass rate at full A-level started to shoot up. That was because students knew, after their AS levels, whether or not it was even worth continuing to A2. So only those who would do well continued. Hence the pass-rate shot up. The commentators  concluded that the exam had become easier. Some appeared to be under the mistaken impression that 90+% of all pupils were achieving A-levels, when it is nothing like that. 

 That is like looking at the very high  proportion of entries for A-level Greek which achieve a grade A and concluding that therefore  A-level Greek is easy.

So, instead of talking about A-level and GCSE results, this blog is taking a holiday and will write about my planned bike ride from London to Clayhidon in Devon.

The panniers have been bought. So has the anti-itch cream to smother all over the padded bike shorts. I've been out on some lovely training rides down here in Devon. Yesterday's took me along the beautiful Culm Valley (Hemyock, Culmstock, Uffculme) and then over to the towpath on the Great Western Canal, before climbing the serious hill up to the Wellington Monument and back to Clayhidon.

At one point I was catching up with a very serious looking cyclist ahead of me. He had all the gear: proper road bike, lycra shorts, and cycling jersey. I must be getting fitter I thought as I caught up with him at a bridge over the canal.

We chatted and I soon realised that he was no youngster. So perhaps I wasn't doing so well after all. Still, I thought, he is a regular cyclist and I could match his pace so maybe I will be able to manage my planned 170 mile ride (it sounds less impressive when I admit I'll be taking three days to do it).

 Anyway after a bit more chat it emerged that:

a) he had just got back on the bike after a major cancer operation

b) he now had a colostomy bag

c) he was 81 years-old!

So, very little comfort to be taken from overtaking him. On the other hand, cycling must be good for you. He looked 20 years younger than his age. 

Just 5 days until my ride now. Should  I train more and just rest?

The longest ride I have done is only about 25 miles and I'll have to do 55-60 a day for 3 days...and over some big hills.

I'll let you know.

Now what was that I was saying about exam results...

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