I've been reading over the transcript from Michael Gove's evidence to the Education Select Committee from a couple of weeks ago. In it, Gove repeats the same claim, that every child should expect to leave school with a C in English and Maths. This is something he's said publically elsewhere along with suggestions that compulsory schooling should continue for those who don't attain that grade. Hearing this, I just dispair. I teach in a fairly high-achieveing school (our A*-C for English is over 80%) and even I know that for some of our pupils, a C is completely unrealistic. For some, it's behaviour and attendance which gets in the way; but for others, it's their intellectual ability. I teach a low set class (although not the very bottom) with some students who work hard, are always in school and whose parents are supportive of their education (to a point, anyway). Yet they still write their own names without capital letters and seem incabable of using apostrophes. They talk about the surface features of a poem or the most obvious things in Macbeth because they lack the ability to read between the lines. I'm not going to give up on them and at the moment I'm working my socks off to offer them controlled assessment resits, exam revision, extra homework if they want it... but the truth is is that many of them will miss out on a C because they just lack the ability. In the lowest set I know there are worse cases - students who can't write legibly or string a coherent sentence together. Isn't this an honest reflection of the reality of school for many everyday students? I imagine in some schools where the A*-C for English is around 60%, there are even more students like this. Yes, some would improve with intervention (which costs money, money that's unavailable much of the time); some would improve with better attendance or behaviour. But for many isn't it true that intellectual ability is what prevents them from getting a C? If so, how do we address that?