At present a student sitting exams in their sixteenth year in the UK could be sitting one of a multitude of different papers for each subject and yet students’ results are ‘compared’ to provide statistical information. This is not only misleading but it also makes standardisation virtually impossible.
What we need is one body setting examinations for each subject; two exams for each. The subject matter should be decided by a panel of experts, partly from the academic world and partly from the world of business. These exams should be difficult (like O Levels used to be) and should be structured so that students are given a good grounding in each subject i.e. let’s learn about anatomy in Biology, not land fill sites.
Students leaving school at 16 will then have been given the opportunity to learn material that will be relevant and useful to them if they choose not to study further.
In unison with this, proper vocational courses should be run in schools. This will benefit both the less able and those students who have made clear career decisions. These qualifications should not be seen as a route for drop outs but should lead towards meaningful qualifications in carpentry or plumbing (for example).
Let’s make exams useful, difficult and put the same papers in front of every student.
Can anybody see a downside to that??