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.
This shows just how effective one-to-one and small group tuition can be. At Kensington & Chelsea Tutors (www.kctutors.co.uk) we were involved with a similar scheme with Westminster Council called Making Good Progress. This involved ten one hour lessons of Maths and / or English for struggling students in mainstream education. They had great success but as with so many things the budget was cut and the service removed.
Why is it that money cannot be found for such schemes when so much public money seems to be constantly wasted? Take the recent rebranding of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). From December 1st 2012 it will be called the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS). We as a registered body have received multitudinous letters and paperwork, they have issued (and we have had to order) new application forms, they have a splendid new logo but absolutely nothing about how we carry out checks has changed. We have also been told we have alter all of our paperwork and websites etc. to reflect these changes.What a monumental waste of everybody’s time and so much money.
Improving numeracy in the young is clearly a concept to be applauded. At least the government is trying to move forward by actively attempting to improve standards. Timestables and learning by rote will always be moot points; this type of learning will always be more beneficial to some than others. We need a balanced approach; looking at other country’s records and methods is just one way of approaching the issue. National Numeracy might feel that looking into our relatively recent educational past is a step backwards – would they argue that standards of mathematical understanding in an average sixteen year old are higher in 2012 than in (say) 1982? I think not. Perhaps we should consider past methods and learn from them? We do need to move forward but not everything that has gone before carries less credence in the present – surely that is what history teaches us.
As the article states, “National Numeracy was founded earlier this year with the intention of improving mathematical skills and attitudes to maths among the general public.” The founders and members are clearly people whose opinions are worth listening to but perhaps it is a little early for this kind of cage rattling?