Get rid of GCSEs now and standardise grading!

Hopefully the public at large realise that this is just statistics, although I fear they don’t. Rattling off comparisons with GCSEs’ twenty five year history is nonsense. Things have so often been muddled, confused and changed that making year on year comparisons is meaningless. It’s interesting that the proportion of differing grades is cited but how those grades are arrived at is not. What percentage did students have to achieve to gain those grades? With inflated results and relentless, year-on-year ‘improvement’ people began to grasp the impossibility of what was occurring. Politicians realised that with even a passing glance it was obvious to everybody that this could only reflect a deterioration in the quality of the qualifications set. Lo and behold fewer students are getting top grades to deflect from the real issue – GCSEs need to be swept away in favour of more challenging examinations with all students sitting the same examinations for all subjects.
 
 
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Summer private tuition for 11+ / Grammar school exam pupils

Here’s my thoughts on a recent BBC education news story about the growth of private tuition for 11+ / grammar school entry exams….

This reflects the trend we have seen here at Kensington and Chelsea Tutors.
Although in the past eleven years we have consistently provided tutors not only for grammar schools but also for selective private and state schools, in the past five years or so there has been a marked increase. I think this is partly because tutoring has moved from being a secret weapon to a mainstream activity. Tutors are out there and parents are increasingly using them to boost students’ prospects at all levels.

It defeats me why Barry Sindall, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads Association (GHSA) says that, “The issue for GSHA is not how do you stop coaching but rather how do you stop coaching making an impact.”

Coaching of any kind is always going to have an impact and that surely is a good thing. Don’t sports professionals train hard to make themselves more proficient in their fields? We (thankfully) live an an open democracy and have freedom of choice – if tutors are out there, why not use them?

Tutoring seems to get criticised almost daily and generally the thrust is one of elitism. The increasingly expensive and exclusive private school system in this country, from Eton on down, seems to be conveniently glossed over. At least tutoring allows help to be given to students whose parents’
wildest dreams don’t even feature the cheapest private schools.

If the argument is that this is unfair then it is something the government needs to look at.

 

GCSE changes welcome but why tinker with grading?

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.

For more details visit www.webtutornet.com and www.kctutors.co.uk

A CLEAR TREND TOWARDS ONLINE LEARNING

Here’s my views on an education news story on today’s BBC website…

Cambridge to tutor A-level physics

Academics from Cambridge University are to help tutor sixth-form physics students across the UK to prepare them better for university study.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-22434611

 

Encouraging people to study physics can only be a good thing as we are being left behind by the rest of the world, especially Asia, in this field.

This is also a clear indication of a trend towards online learning. Here at Webtutornet we truly believe that online learning is the future of education.

 

 

Web safety is all about parental control in increasingly complicated tech world…

** Web safety lessons urged for infants ** Children as young as five should be given lessons in how to use the internet safely, campaigners have urged.

< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-21328411 >

Much of this is about parental control! As a father of three young children I can see how computer use and the internet is of increasing interest to the young. As children become ever more I.T. savvy it is extremely important that parents carefully monitor the content they are accessing.

Publishers of unsuitable websites aimed at the young should also be held strongly to account.

Also, ever more sophisticated mobile devices are equally if not more problematic as they are far more difficult to monitor.

Follow on Twitter @webtutornet @kandctutors

 

 

Income Inequality and the Death of Trickledown

A lot of lessons to be learnt here!

Job Market Monitor

On September 12, 2012, the Census issued its report on Income, Poverty, and Healthcare Coverage in the United States: 2011. While the full report has some nice charts, one that was conspicuously missing was on income inequality. The data for such a chart was in the tables, and so I was able to construct the chart above from them. Mean household (not individual) income for each quintile (20%) is expressed in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

20120916-095829.jpg

One feature that jumps out at you are how relatively flat mean income has been for the bottom 80% over the last 45 years and how much it has grown for the top 20%, from an already high baseline. I thought this merited some further investigation.

If you look at the far left, in 1967, the income difference between the quintiles of the bottom 80% was remarkably similar, less than $17,000 between each group ($16,679 between…

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Exploring the ties between Sociology and Health: British Sociological Association MedSoc Annual Conference 2012

SAGE Connection

Emma Milman, Assistant Books Editor

I attended the British Sociological Association MedSoc annual conference this week at the University of Leicester. The conference is an opportunity for academics, researchers, students and practitioners worldwide to come together to explore the nexus between sociology and health.

Cathy Lloyd, Sharon Boden and Sarah Earle, all based in the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the Open University, presented a poster on the health services experiences of women with diabetes during pregnancy and childbirth. The poster was based on a project run recently, in which the authors hosted an informal discussion group where women had an opportunity to discuss their own experiences. One of the key findings of the research was that the women involved in the project felt that the medical treatment for diabetes they had received whilst pregnant had dominated their pregnancy. The authors have now submitted…

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