Fireman beware, the teachers are coming. David Cameron’s new National Teaching Service plans to, “…create a central pool of talented teachers, with support and training, who could be deployed where they were most needed.” Teachers really could brush up their skills while waiting to be ‘deployed’.
What political nonsense; as ever in the run up to an election. What the system needs is simplification and robust organisation, not new short-termist gimmicks. If we spent less money on complex, witch-hunting inspectorates there would be more to spend on quality teacher training. If we were to slash the endless bureaucracy associated with the profession we could pay teachers a proper wage, encourage good quality new recruits and leave teachers to actually teach. That quality would filter down and the system would improve root and branch.
Just not Politic enough.
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?
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??
History has long had the unjust label of a ‘boring’ subject. As a History graduate with a continuing keen interest, I think it is vital for pupils to be given a proper grounding in the past. A knowledge of our past is crucial to understanding the present and unravelling the possible future.
I would like History to be compulsory to 16 in the UK with a strong bent towards the twentieth century – the melting pot for the world we live in now.
Let’s get back to thinking, to reading, to essay writing; only then can opinions and arguments be formed. Let’s stop spoon feeding History and try to engage young minds in investigating the past. The internet presents a perfect tool.
With regard to the recent news that the UK is lagging behind in terms of global education standards I have to say I’m afraid Mr Gove is clutching at straws,
‘Mr Gove told MPs that his reforms, such as changing the curriculum, school autonomy and directing financial support towards poorer pupils, were designed to prevent schools in England from “falling further behind”.
These ‘reforms’ contribute to the problem, not the solution. Standards have been dropping for years at Secondary Level; not the standard of teaching but the ridiculous system teachers are forced to battle with.
We need a standardised, centrally run system with challenging exams and meaningful vocational qualifications running in tandem. If you fill students’ heads with the nonsense that they are necessarily gifted because they achieved a A* (ludicrous idea!) they are naturally going to believe it.
Unfortunately achieving a top score in a less challenging exam is going to leave you lagging behind your piers who were properly tested.
Unfortunately a heavily politicised education system designed to produce results, not education, will always fall short.
These results are a clear demonstration of its failure.
I must reiterate that the hard working teachers on the ground are entirely blameless; they can only deal with what they are given.
Will nobody reverse this obvious downward spiral?
COMMENT FROM NEVIL CHILES, MD OF K&C TUTORS & WEBTUTORNET
BBC website story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23973213
It has to be true that pupils receiving extra help will be at an advantage.
For almost all students receiving private tuition there will be a cost and so cold hard economics will obviously come into play.
Here at K & C Tutors we were involved with Westminster Council in a scheme called Making Good Progress which gave struggling pupils ten hours of both and English and Maths tuition during school time and funded by the government. Unfortunately the scheme ended with the sweeping public cuts following the recent economic downturn.
Surely this kind of project is the way forward to bridge the gap?