Improve Compulsory Education for Future Generations

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.

One Examination Organisation – What’s the down side?

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??

Streaming and Setting. Should we or shouldn’t we?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29051923

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!?

Centralise UK Compulsory Education NOW

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.

Bigger classes for budget efficiency – WHAT NONSENSE AGAIN

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?

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29063679

What History should our children learn if they leave school at 16?

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.

What’s the point of compulsory education?

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 exists in parallel universe – stop politicising education!!!

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/uk-26008500

 

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.

As IT moves forward we should seek to tackle cyberbullying

Cyberbullying on rise – Childline
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-25639839 >

As a father of three and Managing Director of a company providing web-based learning this a very worrying report. For children today the world is a very different place than it was for myself growing up in the 1970s and 80s.

Sadly, bullying and racism were ever present then as they are now.

In a pre-internet world these issues were somewhat easier to identify. The problem now is that in a Facebook / social media world it is easier for cowardly bullies and racists to remain faceless and untraced.

ChildLine should be praised for giving young people a place to turn.

My eldest, at nine years old, is only too well aware of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc.. It is up to me as a parent to police it. In my opinion facebook should have an age ceiling of at least 16. There is so much out there that is unsuitable it cannot be filtered by parents with increasingly computer savvy children; they should not be allowed to access it.

The world has changed and we should embrace the change. However, it is happening so fast that it is difficult to keep up and therefore difficult to understand what our children can get access to via the internet.

Also, for children, there is bound to be pier pressure, as there are bound to be children who’s parents allow them to access social media when they are younger. It is also easier for us beyond a certain age to forget that all this content can be accessed on mobile phones – no computer necessary.

So when should I allow my children to have a phone? Great for parent to child contact and safety, but the rest?

This is a debate that will run and run as information technology gallops forward. As a parent I find it all very worrying.

The fact that Webtutornet records all lessons and allows no computer sharing is for a very good reason.

 

A politicised education system will always fall short!

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?