It's about that time of year again when rumours of dumbing down in GCSEs start to proliferate.
Yesterday's inaugral news story on the subject concerned the use of expletives in students answers.
Marking papers featuring the question, "Describe the room you are sitting in.", Mr. Peter Buckroyd, a chief examiner, came across the answer "Fuck off".
Mr. Buckroyd justified his decision to award two marks for this answer on the grounds that the answer demonstrated 'some simple sequencing of ideas' and also 'some words in appropriate order'. He also added that should the pupil have added an exclamation mark the answer would have gained further marks for use of punctuation.

Boggartblog has managed to get hold of the complete mark scheme for this paper.

Question 1. Describe the room you are sitting in.

Marks 27

20-27 marks.

A detailed description of a room, written in sentences, correct spellings, a range of punctuation used accurately, and the use of paragraphs to separate different ideas/subjects within the piece of work. The work should show eveidence of the correct use of nouns, adjectives, verbs, conjunctions, clauses and sub-clauses, subjects, objects, comparatives, superlatives, conjugated verbs, similies and metaphors.
The work should be written in a clear, coherent style, with a logical progression between paragraphs, enabling the reader to draw a mental picture of the writer's surroundings.

10 - 20 marks.

A structured piece of writing with evidence of attempts to use phonic and other methods in spellings. Some use of conjunctions. Writing in sentences usually using capital letters and full stops. Some use of paragraphs, although not necessarily appropriately.
Attempts to vary the sentence structure, however unsuccessful.

5 - 10 marks.

An account using simple statements which convey meaning.
Roundabout the right letters in spellings, any order accepted.
Evidence of capital letters irrespective of where they appear in a sentence or string of words/letters.
Evidence of simple punctuation.
Use of space to denote the beginning and end of words.

1 - 4 marks.

Any decipherable words, expletives and obscenities included, as in many cases these will be the only words the children are familiar with.
Words do not have to be spelt correctly but do have to be recognisable.
Any recognisable marks which could be interpreted as punctuation.

* Papers which have correctly spelt instructions or comments, such as,

"I can't be arsed with this!"

"What a load of bollocks!"

"Why should I fucking do this?"

will be awarded up to 20 extra marks as, although they bear no relevance to the question, they do indicate the writers state of mind, his opinion of the education systemn and in particular the examination system to which he is subjected.

Likewise a blank paper should be considered as it could be the student's way of protesting against the system that he is forced to be a part of, a bit like leaving your ballot paper blank.

Any drawings or doodlings on the paper should also be taken into consideration as should the intentions behind the making of the paper into a paper dart.

Examininers award maks for sob stories