Teaching Volkswagen…

And it all started so well…

(sings) The people’s car is in deepest shit… (To the tune of the Red Flag, for fun…)

Give us a test and we will find a way round it. The Telegraph reports that: “Executives at VW were accused of masterminding the emissions scandal from the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg. The chain of command of those involved in the rigging deception stretched all the way back from the US to VW’s home patch, it was claimed, with executives in Germany controlling the key aspects of tests which the firm now admits were manipulated…”

We can all look so smug, it is so obvious that instead of cheating Volkswagen should have made cars that passed the tests so that their emissions satisfied the exacting standards that the tests demand. But instead they thought: ‘lets look for ways around it…’

How many schools and teachers have been tempted to do similar things, maybe when OfSTED come a knocking or when coursework is not of the ‘required’ standard? Teaching to cheat the test is different to teaching to the test… but where is the line drawn in teaching? Where does teaching to the test tip over into cheating the test? (famously only a couple of consonants need to be jiggled around).

As for the emissions test itself, should we be satisfied with its pass rate? Should we be encouraging more diesel engines onto our roads at all? Particulates are doing untold damage to our lungs… So cheating at a test which seems to accept a certain level of pollutants might make one question the tail that wags the dog in the first place, but Europe made the choice to encourage us into diesel cars… at what price?

Always question what the tests are for. Are they the right test? If not, should we go for a more ‘moral’ position? Should Volkswagen have said diesels are bad so, we will only produce electric cars from now on? If they did, would it be proved, somewhere, that electric cars are also bad? Perhaps the Volkswagen bicycle will be the future…

But never cheat the test, be very clear where the line drawn between cheating and complying is whilst looking for the best tests for the pupils, tests that actually help rather than hinder, tests which have the interests of all at heart…

4 thoughts on “Teaching Volkswagen…

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Martin. This is why when I read about schools cheating during SAT’s I despair. The excuse always advanced it that it’s the pressure of league tables and Ofsted which makes people cheat. Other diesel car manufacturers haven’t cheated (as far as we know) and similarly other schools haven’t. Cheating, to me, just shows that you weren’t sure you could make s car which could pass the test or teach children so they could pass SAT’s, even if was just teaching to the test.


  2. I get the feeling that any cheating that is uncovered is very much the tip of the iceberg.
    I was at a school where yr 6 children were given mocks in the hall in rows. Their parents could come along and sit next to them. I never understood whose benefit the latter was for.
    When SATs time arrived, half the class sat it in their own classroom, the other half were sent in small groups to rooms with adults from the SLT.
    This school did very well. They received so much praise from many quarters. Sometimes it’s not Ofsted or L tables but the school’s reputation that’s at stake. Pupil numbers rise and fall, dips in results trigger investigations, 85% is the new 65%, jobs are at stake……..it’s all a bit depressing. To use the analogy, there may be many vehicles on the road that came out of car plant with borderline emissions, but time has proved them rather less than road worthy in the long term.


  3. Ah but, you have the wrong analogy here.

    The test VW have ‘creatively passed’ aren’t like GCSEs or SATs.

    They’re more like Oftsed observations where, we all know, GOOD teachers put on a special show for the Ofsted inspector but get back to proper teaching as soon as they’ve gone.


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