Here’s my take on the latest news about GCSEs in Maths as featured on the BBC website today (22/5/12)…

Too many schools are entering pupils for maths GCSE early, says Ofsted in a major report that is critical of the way the subject is taught and tested.

I agree that students should not be encouraged to sit Maths (or any other subject) early. School should be focused more on learning and less on passing.

This is the problem with an examination system that is driven from the top down. Start with grades and how to achieve them and think about the teaching and content later.

Because of the structure of the system schools are keen for students to take exams early to relieve the pressure on other subjects. Maths is a solid candidate for early entry as it is relatively easy to assess how an individual will perform. Schools can then put these ‘pass’ statistics on the ledger. Unfortunately, this production line method means that many students who are gifted at maths (and therefore ideal candidates to sit early) are not stretched and encouraged to develop their mathematical acumen.

If the system wasn’t so entirely grade driven, teachers would be able to teach Maths with a view to making pupils able mathematicians. If there wasn’t such pressure to achieve a certain quantity of As, Bs & Cs we might produce pupils who actually understand the maths rather than just being taught how to pass the exams.

Also, over structuring the exams removes the need for pupils to think a little more laterally, therefore not adequately stretching the more gifted. The problem is reflected across the entire GCSE system. In History, the emphasis is more towards learning by rote and regurgitating facts and less on analysis and conclusion.

In short the need to think to excel has greatly diminished.


Overhaul of GCSE Results…at last someone sees sense!

Came across this story late last week on the BBC site…

Overhaul of GCSE results could mean fewer grades…. GCSE results could be overhauled with a cut in the number of grades available suggests the exams regulator for England, Ofqual.

Here’s my views….

At last somebody sees sense! Lets revert to a system that everybody understands. Grades A,B,C,D,E & U, with C and above being seen as a pass. The outcome is then clear. Does anybody really care about the differentiation between F & G? GCSEs should be hard, thus removing the nonsense of A* which is simply an admission of dumbing down.

Performance Related Pay for Teachers…impossible to quantify!

Here’s my take on the story that appeared on the BBC website yesterday regarding proposals to introduce performance related pay for teachers….

Performance related pay in the teaching profession is surely impossible to quantify?

Every lesson in every classroom on any given day presents different challenges. The variables are endless; class size, location, age, demographic. Along with that each and every cohort is unique; possibly similar or totally different from the last and the next. And how do we measure performance? Exam results? Disciplinary record? Attendance?

As well as that, performance related pay naturally introduces competition which can breed disharmony. Teachers should be paid equally and fairly.

Would love to know your opinion!


This story recently caught my eye ( about competition for state funding and a Government initiative to award £10,000 ‘pupil premium’ prize for schools that help pupils from poorer backgrounds.

I personally believe that competition for funding in a state run school system is completely divisive and likely to cause unrest within the teaching community.

I completely agree with Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, that ALL schools should be fully funded.

The Government needs to listen to representatives of the education sector. I think if the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers and the Deputy General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers fundamentally disagree with their policy then Government really ought to listen.

They understand education and the issues the sector faces and recognise the integral importance of a well rounded schooling for all pupils. Turning it into a competition will only exacerbate splits and divisions.

Tell me what you think!

Top Marks for Private Tuition when emphasis is on Fun!

Whether it’s getting your child to learn a completely new subject, or topping up their existing knowledge, private tuition offers a host of tangible benefits for parents.

You’ll find few stronger advocates of the process than Paula and Baden O’Connor from Kensington who have been using the services of Kensington and Chelsea Tutors for the past year to assist their 11 year old son and 7 year old daughter.

They couldn’t be happier with the service they’ve received as Baden explained, “This is an important investment in the future of your children and it’s crucial that you get the right level of service and the right people.”

“We approached K & C Tutors in March 2011 with a view to arranging piano lessons for our daughter and Latin lessons for our son and have since applied the same principle to other subjects including preparing our son for his 11 plus exams.

“The Latin lessons were outstanding and, as a brand new subject, we’re pleased to say that our son loved it. One of the main reasons for this was the quality and integrity of the tutor.

“Her preparation for each lesson was thorough and her manner impeccable. The strong relationship they built up made the process of learning so much more fun for our son. Solid foundations were laid that will assist our son with his future foreign language development.

“In the case of our daughter the piano lessons soon evolved into singing and performance as well. Just like our son, the relationship established with the tutor played a big part in the success of the lessons.

“We specifically asked for a tutor who would not be too pushy or severe and we’ve seen a noticeable increase in our daughter’s performance. Once again the emphasis was on fun and this makes all the difference.

“We went on to get private tuition in English and Maths for our daughter and requested a similarly easy going tutor for these subjects. That’s exactly what we get and it says something when your child looks forward to private tuition after a day at school,” addedBaden.

Nevil Chiles, who established K & C Tutors in 2002, is clear as to why so many of his clients speak in glowing terms about the services they receive: “It’s about maintaining the highest of standards when it comes to the tutors used.

“Each and every one is personally vetted and interviewed by K & C. I certainly would not want to entrust my children’s education in the hands of a tutor that is not up to the job and that is why we’ve conducted over 2000 interviews over the past decade,” added Nevil.

The final word belongs to Paula who is now a real convert to private tuition: “Dealing with an organisation like K & C has always been very easy and they’ve always interpreted our requests accurately. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to any parents looking to follow a similar path for their children.”

“All in all I’d give K & C and their committed tutors ten out of ten and I intend to use them on an ongoing basis.”

For more details visit You can follow Nevil on Twitter @kandctutors