EXAMS mean different things to pupils and parents.

There’s not a one of us who doesn’t have their own memories of both the days we sat them, and the times when, in my day, the dreaded brown envelope arrived.

The argument around teacher assessments replacing formal exam days threw up some interesting personal recollections.

Those who found specific tests of memory and ability a bit of a breeze couldn’t figure what the fuss was about.

Folk remembering being filled with dread, anxiety, and sometimes even exam day nausea saw things through a rather different prism.

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Yet there’s surely nobody who doesn’t sometimes get a severe case of brain fade as they scan an exam paper, hoping against hope that it includes some of the questions for which they swotted reasonably hard, as opposed to those topics they dipped into knowing they’d have to busk it.

Despite their own experiences, or maybe even because of them, parents often take a different view. They’re happy if their offspring get due reward for effort applied, of course they are.

Yet not a few of them are also in the market for bragging rights – a chance to tell friends and neighbours that their wean is smarter than the average.

Which brings me to league tables and pass rates. The fact that these are now being applied at primary as well as secondary level seems to me an entirely retrograde step.

Not only does it unfairly stigmatise some schools where the teachers know there is very little in the way of home support, but it ignores the fact that children learn, develop, and flourish at different ages and stages; sometimes in very different ways.

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The dreamy child at age seven may well become a 37-year-old novelist. The one scribbling on their school books – or, these days, their iPads – may be en route to an art or design degree.

Plus, we’re still stuck in a mindset where the much needed talents of pupils whose skills are more suited to vocational courses are given much less credit than their academically minded classmates.

As I’ve pointed out before, there is another basic unfairness about league tables which is rarely acknowledged. If you are teaching in a school where the children are rarely given access to out-of-school learning opportunities, or don’t have parents or carers with the time or skillset to encourage and support learning, then allowing these pupils to explore and exploit their potential is a huge achievement.

In my mind, that’s a rather greater accomplishment than nudging a class of high achievers with hugely supportive home environments from a guaranteed good grade to an even better one.

Sadly, so much equality of opportunity still depends on factors outwith a child’s control.