This has not been a normal year, nothing about it has been what we might have expected when we embarked on 2020 and saw off 2019 almost nine months ago.
Every year howeverone thing remains constant and that is the stream of hungry ambitious students embarking on their final school year with the promise of university and a new academic adventure on the horizon.
This final year is one of huge anticipation, where hard word, endeavor and engagement usually yield huge dividends and every year we witness on television the excitement and joy of those young adults sharing the results they have achieved with family friends and loved ones via text or SMS. This is a time of year where effort and reward are usually balanced and where surprises are few and far between.
Students know whether they have had a good exam or a bad exam, they are tuned in to the general mood that follows the exam process and can prepare themselves accordingly. In most cases the results are a little predictable, and parents’ teachers and students are aware of this fact.
Fast Forward 2020 and the world is gripped by Covid -19 or the Corona Virus, and every single aspect of society, community and social interaction is impacted at levels usually associated with war time.
People do not leave their homes, food is rationed, entertainment is limited but of major consequence to the next generation is the fact that education and the normalized processes associated with education are forced to change.
There are no exams, lessons move online, flexibility and hard work are removed from the invigilation curve and instead students are at the whim of an algorithm
The future of our youth to be decided by a computer, a machine totally discounting the individual in favor of bulk decisioning and AI.
A volume based approached to most things yields value at certain levels, usually where the cost of error is inconsequential. Marketers have seen huge value in bulk marketing for years, bulk SMS and texting, mass emails and telemarketing have worked where the data message or engagement would have been far more valuable.
In these instances, the cost of getting it wrong is far outweighed by the cost of getting it right, and algorithmic decisioning does add value.
Bulk marketing will usually yield a wider range of results, Bulk SMS will incur some wastage, but ultimately the value of acquiring a new customer makes it worth the cost.
Sadly, this approach has been adopted in the UK and is being used to determine the futures of our young people. Bulking grades together based on geography, considering demographic influencers as opposed hard work, and running algorithmic assessments instead of personal value-based judgements is a little like bulk marketing where in this instance a targeted message or engagement would have been far more valuable.
Machines have determined who will and who will not attend university in the UK this year and effectively ruined the futures of many young individuals.
Education is personal, education is prescriptive, the human being reacts differently to different stimuli and marketers get this fact.
Any senior marketing manager will know when to engage bulk SMS as opposed to targeted messaging, they will be aware of the data points to be considered when factoring in a marketing plan and they will most certainly know when to engage at a qualitative as opposed to quantitative level.
The futures of UK youth and their future contribution to society should perhaps have been determined by these marketers. No consideration has been given to the individual or to the amount of studying, revising or preparation they have undertaken. No consideration has been given to the opinion of the teachers, educators and staff who have spent years preparing these individuals for this very moment.
At a time when those who should have been experiencing the pressures of exam preparation were instead feeling the pressure of a lottery-based education system should more not have been done to support the future of our country.
There are times when society will need to mark its own report card and sadly the manner in which the A Level class of 2020 have been treated is grossly unfair. Much like the insight we get from marketing analytics, we can only hope that the powers that be are flexible and agile and reconsider their approach to education during a global pandemic because at the moment the report card reads D-.