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.
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?
It’s a big question with many answers; often conflicting. I have been involved in education professionally for nearly 20 years, I am state educated but have had intimate ties with private education throughout that time.
The answer to the question is enormously affected by demographics. Most privately educated children will aspire (or at least their parents will) to A Levels, University and a career to follow. This will also be the case with many state educated pupils. However, (mainly) within the state sector there will also always be enormous quantities of students for whom school is just compulsory. They have to go and they look forward to leaving; often with few prospects and very little idea of what to do next.
It is these students that the system lets down the most.
If you leave school at 16 what should you know? Most people will agree that a basic knowledge of English and Maths (numeracy and literacy if you prefer) is a given – but what else?
In our heavily politicised system there is far too much emphasis on passing (so that the government can say what a good job they’re doing) and far too little on content.
To take one example it is possible for two students to both get an A* (A* being of course a nonsense concept in its own right) at GCSE without having done a single question in common. How can we possibly compare pier groups in this way? With multiple Examination Boards the statistics are meaningless. With this system there is also no standardisation of content excepting broad National Curriculum guidelines.
We need to sweep away the nonsense of the multiple exam board system, set up panels consisting of a mixture of academics and representatives from industry to decide exactly what people ought to know at 16 for each subject. There should be a single syllabus for each subject and everybody should sit the same examination.
Beyond 16 is the time to academically diversify, compulsory education should give everybody a solid grounding; even if they never read another word in their lives. Telling them they’ve ‘passed’ a meaningless exam helps nobody.
Gove wants tests for four-year-olds
Education secretary Michael Gove strongly indicates that he wants to introduce formal assessments for four and five-year-olds when they enter school in England.
On what is Mr Gove basing his sweeping self congratulation? Mr Gove appears to live in some fantasy parallel universe.
‘State schools will be able to stay open longer, so that there is more time for after-school activities, and the education secretary has repeated calls for tougher discipline.’
Has anybody consulted teachers on these life changing statements? How will teachers be empowered to toughen discipline? Will legislation be passed to allow punishments without the possibility of litigation?
Regarding the criticisms by Sir David Bell; I entirely agree. ‘Sir David was part of a group of business leaders and academics who published a report last week calling for a more independent, non-political approach to education policy.’
At last somebody talking sense. Michael Gove needs to stop looking in the mirror and actually try and improve the education system apolitically.
For me what credibility he might have had is now non-existent.
Although Tristram Hunt is commenting from a purely political standpoint (always say the opposite of the other side), I entirely agree that there should be, ‘… a qualified teacher in every classroom.’
Be interesting to see what happens with that if Labour get in.
Here’s my take on a recent story on the BBC education news site…
Summer tutoring awaits many pupils
I must say that despite being the owner of a tutoring company I find this trend slightly worrying. When I swap my business hat for my parent hat and look at my children enjoying their summer break I find myself being delighted that they are having such a great time in the sunshine. Obviously it is important to keep up with reading and summer homework but I also think that a break is good, especially for younger children.
We are living in a very competitive world and all parents should want their children to maximise their potential. For some the summer break may be a good time to help a struggling student, the key is getting the balance right.
The internet and information technology are changing the way we view the world and they are now playing their part in changing the face of private tuition!
Despite the economic situation the demand for private tuition continues to rise, particularly for those in private education, with a growing number of enquiries that we receive from parents and pupils specifically requesting an online variation.
Although there will always be a place for conventional face to face tutorials, the days of tutors travelling through rush hour traffic to deliver a lesson at a pupil’s home are becoming somewhat numbered.
Online tutoring allows pupils and tutors to connect wherever they might be in the world. For example at Webtutornet we’ve already seen lessons delivered by tutors in Australia as well as to pupils abroad on holiday facing imminent exams.
It represents a wholly flexible approach and is clearly the way forward for today’s media savvy ‘Facebook’ generation.
They are far more used to communicating face to face online through MSN or Skype than my own generation. However, it is the concerns of parents that frequently have to be countered.
There are a number of online tuition resources and platforms which represent the future face of private tuition and most of the solutions available charge a registration fee and offer parents essential peace of mind with a safe, secure and closely monitored service.
It’s critical that each and every tutor delivering private tuition is comprehensively vetted by their agency. Every tutor applicant interviewed by Kensington & Chelsea Tutors undergoes a series of strict checks including Vetting & Barring Service (VBS) Enhanced Disclosure checks before they are appointed.
Having vetted over 2000 tutors since 2002 and being a father myself I’m well aware of the importance of this process and the integrity and credibility it offers.
Because by its very nature online tuition does not always allow an in person interview webtutornet has been designed to maximise student security. There is no computer sharing or exchanging of personal information necessary to have an excellent online lesson with an expert.
The trend towards online resources is one of a few that we have identified in recent times. There has been a 20% increase over the course of the last 12 months in 6-11 year-olds opting for extra curricular tuition due to the introduction of 7+ tests and pupils themselves are increasingly taking the initiative and organising their own lessons.
The number of students contacting us direct has doubled in the last year and that maybe down to a growing awareness of the importance of getting a good start in life and an evolving knowledge of how lessons can be delivered just as easily online. It’s still the parents who will pay the fees though!
From the start with K&C Tutors in 2002 we’ve seen a consistent 60%-40% split with more females opting for private tuition. Perhaps the girls are more conscientious?
Returning to online private tuition perhaps it’s good to get the expert’s perspective? Angad Rihal, a maths teacher who has used Webtutornet extensively, explained: “This is a truly bespoke solution that has been developed for the student with teaching in mind. The ease of use clearly shows it has been masterminded by people in the industry and is far superior to just using dabble board or Skype.
“This is finally bridging the gap between the internet and private teaching which is long overdue and fitting given the tech savvy zeitgeist.
“It also saves a lot of time on travelling to the homes of students which, with traffic the way it is, can be a priceless advantage!” added Angad.
Online private tuition allows tutors and pupils to be anywhere in the world when conducting lessons. It is inevitable that this approach will become the norm!
The future is here and it’s clear that the face of private tuition is changing!
Here’s my take on this story that appeared recently on the BBC website…
Schools failing brightest pupils
A culture of low expectations is letting down bright children in England’s non-selective secondary schools, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw says.
It’s always wise to be slightly suspicious of sweeping conclusions based on narrow statistics. The advent of League Tables pushes schools to achieve certain benchmarks; these are not necessarily aimed at higher achieving students. The important thing is for the government to sweep away as much red tape as possible and let the teachers teach. There is obviously a need to monitor standards and progress, and students of all ability levels need to be encouraged and given the best teaching and opportunities available.
The problem with finger pointing is that it has a very negative effect on teachers’ morale. It is an inescapable truth that demographics has a significant effect on the personality and ability of a school intake.
Teachers with more challenging students should be encouraged in their efforts rather than pigeon-holed as failing.
We need to encourage our teachers rather than setting them absolute goals that more often than not push them into the middle ground – the more gifted can be left to their own devices because they will pass the ‘C’ boundary and the lower achieving students receive more help to get them to that benchmark. This is an inevitable outcome of the league table system.
Education expert Nevil Chiles, founder of online tuition platform Webtutornet and London and South East private tuition agency Kensington & Chelsea Tutors, gives his views on the GCSE changes announced today…..
Finally we seem to be moving back towards a system that actually TESTS students’ abilities but why, why, why change the grading system?? Eight to one?? Possibly a reaction against the unwillingness of Wales and Northern Ireland to endorse the changes?
Time and effort should be employed to make universal changes rather than creating a new grading system and a splintered infrastructure. Should we not be making the system simpler?
I wholeheartedly agree with a move towards more rigorous courses based on end of course examinations; it has been needed for years. Scrapping coursework is also long overdue.
As a History graduate I am delighted that pupils will be required to write essays instead of the nonsense short, pre-structured questions we have become used to.
Actually making pupils think instead of just pass is a giant leap forward if they are true to their word. Just reading that students will be required to read WHOLE books as if that is something of a move forward is an unbelievable indictment of the present system.
I praise Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss for finally telling the truth and echoing what I’ve been saying for a long time:
“But we do need to start competing against those top performing countries in the world because for too long we’ve pretended that students results are getting better when all that’s been happening is the exams have been getting easier and it’s been a race to the bottom between the exam boards and we need to stop that happening now.”
What needs to happen is that the planned changes need to be implemented as soon as possible but PLEASE with an alphabetic grading system and let’s wave goodbye to the nonsense of A*.
We then need to go further and do a wide-reaching review of course content and sweep away the multiple exam board system. One subject, one examining body. Only then can we have a meaningful comparison of standards within a given pier group.