Just read the table below and wonder at how this is going to pan out. Everybody will be totally confused from students through to employers and universities. Why can’t the government just admit that terrible mistakes have been made and rectify them. A* always was an idiotic idea – basically an admission that exams are too easy. And exams ARE too easy. Does anyone at the D of E understand what the terms ‘Examination’ and ‘Testing’ literally mean? Go back to A-E grades that everybody understands and make the exams hard. Surprise, surprise, only the top students will get top marks.
“The new approach will also mean:
Broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a Grade 7 or above as currently achieve an A and A*
For each examination, the top 20% of those who get Grade 7 or above will get a Grade 9
The bottom of Grade 1 will be aligned with the bottom of Grade G”
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.
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.
I think ‘total shambles’ is an apt description for this!
An exam based system with rigorous testing is what we need but it was a typical political move by Michael Gove to come up with sweeping (Baccalaureate) changes based on little or no consultation.
Once again time and money is wasted without being any closer to an examination system worthy of our nation. JUST MAKE THE EXAMS RELEVANT AND DIFFICULT so that we can properly assess future generations and provide them with a solid education (i.e. one with content that it is relevant for all and stretches the gifted).
Let’s also provide vocational qualifications in schools alongside mainstream academic subjects in the compulsory years. Give everybody the ability to learn and help the less academic to find their path in life without labeling them because they cannot achieve top marks in examinations. Well, we can dream…
I think that this announcement is broadly very positive. Getting rid of GCSEs is monstrously overdue. We do need more rigorous testing and we do need single board examinations.
However, extending education for all up to 18 is a mistake. There will always be students who perform badly in academic examinations for a wide variety of reasons. Why is there not a vocational element built in to these changes?
Give academically weaker students the opportunity to study mainstream subjects… they will probably be thankful for it in later life (if not so at the time!). but also let such students study towards skills that will make them employable when they leave school.
Why can’t we have students studying towards being electricians or carpenters alongside the traditional subjects? Let’s not have weaker students ‘catch up’ until they are 18. Armed with a grounding in a trade they could leave school at 16 and find meaningful employment.
Also, why do we have to jump on the Baccalaureate band wagon? Can we not at least be original and not confuse it with all the others?