And it came to pass in those days that a plague came upon the lands and it was called “Grade inflation”. The voices of the people were heard on high through the kindness of the Daily Mail crying out, saying “This really won’t do. Exams must be easier if more people are able to pass them and, even though we don’t really know, we are going to believe that standards are falling as the locust beans in May.” And teachers, parents and children heard the voices and they were sore afraid.
The Pharisees and teachers were wise and said “Fear not, although these things have changed since you were baptised in the font of knowledge, all the signs show that our children are learning well and their teachers have become mighty in their undertakings”. But the News of the World reached the Sanctuary Buildings where The Mighty Gove resided, passing his judgements and signing Bibles. The Mighty Gove was angered “Bring unto me the Chief Priests of the Temples of Assessment so that I might smite them with sarcasm and belittling comments. Should they fail to heed my call, set forth the OfQual so that they may be afeared and worry about their future contracts.”
The High Priests came unto The Mighty Gove and threw themselves before him crying “Oh mighty one, please have mercy on us and protect our internationally incomparable industry from loss of profits.” and The Mighty Gove took a peeled grape from the special advisor and spake thus “In Ancient Times the great and rich ruled without fear from the plebs of this land, it is my wish that such noble times should be seen again. Go forth unto the people and foretell the end of these GCSEs which I have decided are worthless.” The High Priests bowed low and said “but Mighty One how will we be able to take gold from the public coffers without these tests?” The Mighty Gove smiled and raised his hands up to invoke the magic of The Almighty Thatcher and spake, again. “I see the coming of a new era, a Golden Dawn in which every child will give themselves unto a new test, and one which continues to offer great riches to those who would worship it. Its name is O’ Level and the world will rejoice, or at least those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and suppressing the opportunities for the masses.” and the Palace rang with their laughter for seven days and nights.
News of The Mighty Gove’s pronouncements reached the people and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the schools and colleges. Clegg the Lesser, assistant to Pontius Cameron, flew into an almost mighty rage, but not really; and said to The Mighty Gove. “whatforartthou up to? The Level of O is an abomination in my eyes and I have already given in to enough abominations so that my popularity is shrunken like a raisin.” And The Mighty Gove spake through gritted teeth, thus. “Indeed, what you say is true my lord, we must think again.” and peace returned to the Land of the people.
Unbeknownst to the people a mighty storm was brewing on high. The High Priests of Assessment on conducting the ceremony of the GCSE looked at the portents and in whispered tones spake thus “Oh shit, not again. The OfQual will be angry. Our children have done too well. This is not possible they can not have learned more than the OfQual decrees.” The OfQual Was indeed angered by the audacity of the people in successfully undertaking a test with clearly published, regulated and moderated success criteria and declared that such impudence must be the work of the Devil. “Go forth and drag down those children so they may be seen as we say they are” spake the Monster. Some minor Priests were saddened and spake out saying “sod off, we’ve done our jobs properly” but the OfQual raged saying ” change the bloody things now or we will sort you out, so help us!” and the High Priests, afeared of losing their power over the people’s gold said “yes, of course. What were we thinking?”
In time the children of the people gathered, as tradition demands, in a school hall to undertake the ceremony of the opening, surrounded by press photographers looking for twins and giggling girls. Excitement and anticipation was great. As the ceremony progressed voices were raised up in dismay, crying “oh, Priests of Assessment – we did all you asked of us and more. Whatever changes you made to our tests we strove hard to conquer and you promised we would be rewarded with the sacred C. Why have you forsaken us?!” and the rivers ran deep with tears of the afflicted and the hopes and dreams piled high in the cesspit of despair.
Mighty warriors of the people, affronted by the evil injustice they perceived said “This be not on, mate. We must form an army and overthrow the demons of the Temples of Assessment for is it not said that the bastards are in collusion to prepare for the coming of the one they call Baccalaureate?!” but the High Priestess of the OfQual simply laughed and waved them away while deciding what she should wear to collect the Honour she must surely be given.
And the forces of the people grew stronger and their Army larger, day by day and they launched forth a messenger saying “You have acted against both natural and social justice by throwing in your lot with the forces of elitism. We will seek audience with the Great Justice to show your evil doing for what it is unless you undertake the ceremony of the GCSE anew. And the Mighty Gove whistled and stuck his fingers in his ears, yea, even as the Archduke of Wales slay the mighty Dragon. The OfQual growled and said repeatedly “our job is to maintain standards” but the wind whistled and the weeds tumbled and people looked away, embarrassed by the obvious lack of independence they had shown. And the people spake with one voice and said “We will hold you accountable. This will not go away.”