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.
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.
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.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!
Private tutors reveal their top ten exam and revision tips
“Keep calm and carry on” is one of the overriding pieces of advice to UK students currently in the midst of GCSEs, A Levels and end-of-year exams from a survey undertaken in May of 500 private tutors.
The eponymous World War 2 poster message, which has become a widely recognised part of popular culture iconography in recent years, is just one of ten ‘tips’ offered by tutors attached to online private tuition platform Webtutornet and Kensington and Chelsea Tutors to help guide students through the stressful ordeal of revision and examinations.
The ten tips are as follows:
1) Stay calm and don’t panic whether you’re in the midst of revision or within an examination environment
2) Get a life balance during the exam period by eating well and getting plenty of sleep with early nights. Aim to get up every morning even when you have no exam!
3) Create a revision plan that involves a clear structure of 40 minutes on and 10 minutes off. Continual intervals from study are essential to learning. One day of revising flat out will negatively affect the following days so spread activity out evenly.
4) Go through past exam papers on a timed basis during revision and try to understand what the examiner is looking for
5) Read the question and answer the question! It may seem obvious but ensure your answers are concise, relevant and clearly structured. Your opinion counts but isn’t enough on its own. You need to demonstrate your knowledge of a subject.
6) Do the questions you find easiest first. Don’t attempt to do them in the order in which they appear on the paper.
7) Read as much as possible whether relevant or irrelevant to your exams. Reading is a form of brain training that will help with revision and your levels of concentration during an exam.
8) Avoid long meandering sentences as nine times out of ten these will act against you. Keep your sentences short and sweet.
9) Towards the end of your exam, if you have time, reread all of your answers. You are bound to come across a mistake of some description and this is the easiest way to improve marks at the last minute
10) Understand how the marking works for each question and find the marks scheme on the exam board’s website. There’s no point spending lots of time on questions that offer few points to the detriment of more rewarding ones.
Nevil Chiles, who founded Kensington & Chelsea Tutors in 2002 and Webtutornet in 2012, commented: “The tips we received from the tutors surveyed make for interesting reading and undoubtedly reveal that a calm and organised approach to both revision and exams will reap dividends.
“This is the most stressful time of the year for hundreds of thousands of students of all ages and it’s therefore important to prepare in the right way,” added Nevil who has personally interviewed and vetted over 2000 tutors in the past 11 years.
Planned switch from GCSEs to Baccalaureate in England ‘abandoned’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21363396#
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…
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