Home > Uncategorized > The Wannabe Chancellor Who Is Unable To Do Simple Fractions

The Wannabe Chancellor Who Is Unable To Do Simple Fractions

Ed Balls today re-posted on twitter via youtube an exchange between himself and Michael Gove from the House of Commons in 2009 when Ed Balls was Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

Now, rather than showing Michael Gove to be an idiot, he showed himself up as an idiot and unfit to be chancellor as he did not know the answer to the following GCSE Maths question:

3 3/4 – 1 2/5

Thats a simple question and hardly challenging.

The answers are:

1. Lipase

2 By gaining an electron. Fluorine has 7 in its outermost electron cloud but it really wants to be full by having 8 so really wants to either steal or share an electron  from another atom.

3. 47/20 or 2 7/20

To me, its shocking that our leaders don’t know the answer to these simple questions.

Using Standard Grades from the same year and subjects as Ed Balls is using, we’ll compare which system is better:

Mathematics, paper 1 (non-calculator) first question is:


24.7 -0.63 X 30


Hydrogen reacts with other elements to form molecules such as hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride.

(a) Name the family to which fluorine and chlorine belong.

(b) The atoms in these molecules are held together by a covalent bond. Circle the correct words to complete the sentence.

A covalent bond forms when two (positive / neutral / negative) nuclei are held together by their common attraction for a shared pair of (protons/ neutrons / electrons)

(c) Describe how the size of element X affects the energy needed to break the bond in the molecule.

N.B (c) also has a table with it that didn’t want to copy over.


A comparison was made between the types of invertebrate animals living on the branches and leaves on an oak tree with those living on a beech tree.

Samples were collected as shown below.

(i) Give two variables which should be kept constant to make the comparison valid when using this technique.

(ii) The samples collected were not representative of all the invertebrates living on the trees. Suggest a reason for this.

(iii) Measurement of abiotic factors such as light intensity may be recorded at the same time as sampling. Identify a possible source of error for a named measurement technique and explain how it might be minimised.

Now which one is harder and which one gives kids critical thinking and problem solving skills. For me it is easy, its the Standard Grade.

I find it worrying that the Shadow Chancellor can’t do simple Maths, but even more worrying is that he thinks those GCSE questions are hard.

Personally, I welcome some of Gove’s recent announcements for the English Education system in the creation of a singular exam board. I’m in favour of scrapping the national curriculum but if all schools go in for the exams written by the English Qualification Authority as I assume a singular exam board might be called then all schools will be following the same curriculum as if it was national anyway.

I don’t agree with going back to a two -tier system like O-Levels and CSE but perhaps suggest a more tiered structure within the GCSE like Standard Grades with the Credit, General and foundation level papers or do what the more recent NQs do and split the qualification levels down further for example Intermediate 1 is of the same level as a Standard Grade at General level and intermediate 2 is similar to Standard Grade at credit level. Of course the difference between Int 2 and SG credit varies between subjects and schools will choose whichever one they feel best prepares their students for the Higher in the same subject.

That is possibly another problem with the English system because A Levels are from my knowledge generally taught in separate sixth form colleges from where GCSEs are taught in school. This means there is no incentive for the school to prepare kids for A Levels as the schools standing does not take into account A-Level results by the schools former pupils who went on to A-levels.

Neither system is perfect but I do know with the English system under the control of idiots, I doubt GCSEs will get more rigorous any time soon. Also if Ed Balls ever gets to become Chancellor, Britain’s economy will get worse rather than better.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 24, 2012 at 00:44

    “singular” Exam Board – something special about it?

    • June 24, 2012 at 11:30

      Depends. If you have one curriculum and multiple exam boards then it stands to reason that certain exam boards will have easier exams. If your going to have multiple exam boards, then ideally they should all be writing for different qualifications.
      If you have a GCSE qualification, that GCSE exam should be the same wherever you sit it, so that everyone knows how well or not someone’s achieved. If the GCSE is to be the same, then you should only have one exam board writing it.

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