We need PROPER vocational skills taught in schools alongside core subjects. Help the less academic gain vocational skills whilst still having the opportunity to study mainstream academic 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.
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??
Surely this is a sensible policy? By reducing standards and allowing almost everybody to ‘pass’ their exams the government has entered into a world where the difference between students is being masked. Not everybody is an academic and that doesn’t matter. Every pupil should be given an equal chance. Gathering people of similar abilities together is surely going to make teaching easier and more efficient. It also introduces (DARE I say it) competition; something that we are surrounded by every day of our lives. Let’s not pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s hard enough taking my 8 year old son to football tournaments where everybody ‘takes part’ but nobody wins. God forbid that somebody should lose!?
Imagine if we had just one body setting examinations for 16 year olds in the UK. The government is constantly looking for ways to save money; printing costs alone would save millions. I don’t think parents and the public in general have any idea of the ludicrous work load put upon Examination Officers these days. At many schools it is a full time job! At many private schools children in the same class will be sitting different exams for the same qualification! Mistakes are often made because of the complexity of so many different papers for the same subjects. Results comparisons are meaningless and standardisation is virtually impossible.
We need ONE body setting the examinations for core subjects at 16 and EVERYBODY should sit identical examinations for each subject. This would save money, raise standards, avoid errors and make statistical comparison of results have some meaning.
Does the government just trawl through statistics in an effort to find a way to lower standards through budget cuts? How can anybody seriously put forward the point of view that larger class sizes will not effect standards? Why can’t the government focus on improvement rather than cost cutting?