Has somebody with the power to change our uselsess Secondary Examination system finally come to their senses?
Sir Michael Wilshaw is talking sense. But let’s not just overhaul useless GCSEs, let’s scrap them completely and install a challenging, relevant examination regime with a single qualification for each subject. Let’s do away with the nonsense of multiple exam boards at the same time – PLEASE.
We need to do this NOW so that we have a stable system moving forwards. Perpetual change is also very damaging to students and teachers alike.
Why does the government want to fill the nation with undergraduates? Nonsense politicising AGAIN. “removing the cap on aspiration”. What utter nonsense from the Department of Education and Skills in the run up to an election.
Who’s going to pay? We’ll be creating a graduate population with crippling debt and questionable qualifications. Let’s not forget that students don’t feature on unemployment figures. The government knows that private providers can already smell the money. Very convenient that it makes them look good and costs them little.
Short-termist nonsense from government as ever.
Does nobody in these departments ever start a meeting by considering what would be best for these human beings who they are pushing to becoming undergraduates? Vocational training perhaps? Employment?
Following some minor building works at our offices in London it became clear to me just how difficult it is to find decent tradespeople. We were repeatedly let down and we also encountered some extremely poor quality workmanship. Apologies for the stereotyping but the best tradesman / builders (by far) were Polish.
I have had a very similar experience domestically over the past few years, as have friends and family.
Why are we not producing good tradespeople and how do we know if somebody knows what they’re doing? After all, you need no formal qualification to describe yourself as a ‘builder’.
What we need is proper training in schools leading to an actual qualification that demonstrates competence. Students could leave school at 18 with a provable skill which could be checked. This should begin in compulsory education and would help people into work where they could gain further experience on the tools.
Let’s stop pretending everybody is an academic and start properly training people in the trades. We are getting left behind.
Unfortunately this is what can happen when you give these schools free reign with their budgets and accounting. The system for non academies where local authorities award funds after consultation creates checks and balances. That system is not perfect, but at least it is fair. In a local authority containing a mixture of academies and local authority run schools funding is not balanced, with academies getting greater sums of money. This system leads to the elitism that the original ethos of academies – to help struggling schools – was designed to prevent.
This would be an excellent idea if Ofsted were less like the Spanish Inquisition. If Heads felt that post Ofsted they would be given constructive guidelines rather than demonised for their failings they would probably be behind the idea. There is such paranoia about Ofsted that schools spend weeks preparing; time that could be much better spent.
Just read the table below and wonder at how this is going to pan out. Everybody will be totally confused from students through to employers and universities. Why can’t the government just admit that terrible mistakes have been made and rectify them. A* always was an idiotic idea – basically an admission that exams are too easy. And exams ARE too easy. Does anyone at the D of E understand what the terms ‘Examination’ and ‘Testing’ literally mean? Go back to A-E grades that everybody understands and make the exams hard. Surprise, surprise, only the top students will get top marks.
“The new approach will also mean:
Broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a Grade 7 or above as currently achieve an A and A*
For each examination, the top 20% of those who get Grade 7 or above will get a Grade 9
The bottom of Grade 1 will be aligned with the bottom of Grade G”
This is where demographics and governmental aspirations clash. It’s a bit like the rain following the plough. Creating more graduates doesn’t necessarily boost an economy. We need to learn lessons from this with our ever increasing further education sector. We need to help the young develop skills that are beyond the academic. China’s economy rests almost entirely on global consumerism which makes it a long-dormant volcano; who knows when – but it will erupt.
At least here in Britain (maybe tomorrow a smaller one!) we have the opportunity to balance the population and restructure the education system before it’s too late.
As the article says…
“China’s education ministry has already indicated that it wants to turn 600 universities into polytechnics, providing more technical and employment-related courses, rather than academic and theoretical subjects.”
Gone are the days when University Places had to be fought for tooth and nail. No more long nights burning the midnight oil to cover every base the night before an exam. Actual entry grades are kept away from the public domain; that would devalue the institutions in the eyes of applicants. As the article says, quoting from one Russell University’s entrance grades:
Grades are represented, “…in terms of tariff points – 120 for an A grade, 100 for a B grade, 80 for a C grade and so on. And for people entering this Russell Group university to study this English degree, the points ranged from below 120 to over 600. It’s a huge spread of results. At the lower end it meant someone was admitted with the equivalent of two D grades – and at the upper level someone had better than four A-levels at A* grade. And there are entrants admitted with everything in between.”
Does that reflect a high quality Higher Education Sector? Should students with two D Grades be entering University at all?
We are being left behind by the rest of the world because our compulsory secondary education system is confused, complicated and not testing enough.
Standards have been dropping year upon year for decades, reflected in higher and higher ‘pass’ rates and a greater quantity of ‘top’ marks. Look at the attached Graph. O Level & GCSE Achievement 1953 -2009
(Source: House of Commons Library – Standard Note SN/SG/4252 – Social & General Statistics)
This lowering of standards has fed right through to Higher Education. Top Universities are finding that freshers do not possess the knowledge which their high marks should reflect. Mathematically heavy subjects are particularly badly effected. Engineering Undergraduates at top Universities often have to have extra lessons in Mathematics because their assumed and necessary knowledge of Mathematics is just not there.
This is because we have dumbed down our examinations.
There needs to be a revolution in the examination system and it needs to happen NOW.
Through Kensington & Chelsea Tutors I come across students from all over the world. I have been consistently shocked by how we are being left behind by other nations, particularly in the 11 – 16 age range. The difference is particularly noticable in Mathematics and Science where students abroad are tackling far more testing material than students of the same age in the UK.
Unless this changes the future looks bleak; we need reform to keep the UK competitive.