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!?
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.
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.
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.
THE DBS AND ENHANCED DISCLOSURE CHECKS
At Kensington & Chelsea Tutors Ltd we have been carrying out Enhanced Disclosure criminal background checks through the Criminal Records Bureau for approaching a decade.
Recently the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to form the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Following the creation of the DBS some of the rules for applying for Enhanced Disclosure checks have changed.
Historically an employer who wished to carry out Disclosures could apply to the CRB to become a Registered Body. Once thoroughly vetted, and after a mountain of paperwork, this status could be achieved. From that day forward the Registered Body was empowered to carry out checks under strict guidelines – this is still the case.
After a form had been completed by both the applicant and the Registered Body it was submitted by post to the CRB. When the relevant checks were completed the CRB issued a copy of the Enhanced Disclosure to both the applicant and the Registered Body – THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE.
NOW ONLY THE APPLICANT receives a copy of the Enhanced Disclosure certificate.
THIS IS ABSOLUTE MADNESS.
The DBS says that Registered Bodies must ask the applicants to bring back their Certificates once completed. This is impractical, wrong and dangerous in so many ways:
- The length of time the application takes to process is random and unknown depending on the applicant.
- Applicants’ prospects of employment are delayed because they are forced to wait for the certificate and then take it back to the Registered Body.
- The onus is on the applicants (NOT THE REGISTERED BODY) to be forthcoming with their certificates.
- The applicant may live a long distance from the Registered Body’s offices.
- The applicant has paid £44 (unless a volunteer) for the check and may be quite rightly unwilling to send it in the post.
- The Registered Body has no guarantee that the certificate is genuine no matter what watermarking etc. the DBS says should be present.
- The Registered Body should not be put in the position of authenticating certificates provided to them by the INDIVIDUAL BEING CHECKED – IF AN INDIVIDUAL ACTIVELY WANTED TO GAIN ACCESS TO CHILDREN (in our agency’s case) ASKING THEM TO PROVIDE THEIR OWN PAPERWORK IS FRAUGHT WITH THE POSSIBLY OF FORGERY AND IS ULTIMATELY ENDANGERING THE PEOPLE THE DBS IS DESIGNED TO PROTECT
The newly formed DBS has also launched an Update Service where theoretically future warnings or convictions etc. are uploaded onto their database and both applicants and Registered Bodies have the ability to log in and check – on paper a very good idea and one which in principle would make multiple applications by an individual a thing of the past. The DBS implies that the Updating Service removes the need for Registered Bodies to receive copies of the certification.
To quote from the DBS’s information:
‘To coincide with the launch of the Update Service the DBS will no longer automatically issue a copy of your DBS Certificate to the Registered Body who countersigned your DBS application form. Employers and recruiting organisations will need to ask you for sight of your DBS Certificate. This is to give you greater control over your information.’
UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS CURRENTLY A HOWLING FLAW IN THIS PROCESS. An applicant’s subscription to the Updating Service is NOT MANDATORY! In fact there are a set of criteria:
- The applicant must pay an ANNUAL fee of £13 for the pleasure of being part of this scheme – an enormous disincentive.
- They need the application form reference number in order to apply before their registration; this is easily forgotten as it was not part of the process previously.
- If they fail to register before their certificate is issued they have 14 days from THE DATE ON THE CERTIFICATE to apply or they will no longer be eligible. They have to be relied upon to do this.
Given these criteria there is ample scope for applicants not to register.
- In many cases the applicants won’t care whether their status is updated or not and so why pay?
- PEOPLE WITH AN INTENTION TO OFFEND WHO MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE IN THE FUTURE WILL CLEARLY NOT APPLY.
- It may be a one-off application because they are applying for a job. The onus to check is on the new employer, the applicant has no personal obligation.
- They may assume that future applications will be paid for on their behalf which is often the case; this is the case in the teaching profession. In which case, why bother? AND WHY PAY?
This is what the DBS says about this new system:
‘These checks are to assist employers in making safer recruitment and licensing decisions.’
Well, let’s look at that. Let’s see where that leaves Kensington and Chelsea Tutors; we do up to 30 or 40 checks a month. IT IS WORTH NOTING HERE THAT ALL WE WANT IS THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN. WE WANT A SAFE EFFICIENT WAY OF VETTING APPLICANTS WHOM WE MIGHT GIVE ACCESS TO CHILDREN.
Here are the scenarios we find ourselves up against:
- An applicant is interviewed and has no previous Disclosure. We will carry out a check and encourage the applicant to subscribe to the Update Service. We will have to rely on the applicant to show us their certificate and to subscribe. We obviously would not consider an application until we have seen a certificate; this process is much more prolonged as we no longer receive certification. IF the applicant subscribes to the Update Service we can log in and check. If the applicant DOES NOT subscribe to the Update Service the Disclosure becomes a one-off as before and neither we nor any other potential employer has access to updated information. At least before we had physical evidence that we had carried out the check, now we just have photocopies or letters and numbers on a piece of paper.
- An applicant is interviewed and has a previous Disclosure but has not subscribed to the Updating Service. The first thing is to establish when the Disclosure took place; this is crucial to its credibility. It is an impossibility for any background check to have any forward moving absolute validity; THE APPLICANT MAY HAVE COMMITTED A CRIME THE DAY AFTER THE DATE ON THE CERTIFICATE but prior to the interview. The Updating Service could have solved this problem notwithstanding the omissions outlined above – IT IS NOT COMPULSORY. Unless a check is very recent we normally insist on a fresh one being carried out. We then run into the same problems outlined above; will they sign up? We can’t force them.
- An applicant is interviewed and has a previous Disclosure and HAS subscribed to the Updating Service. In this case we can view the original document, go online and check for updates and given that we take it as read that the DBS have done their checks correctly everybody is happy. The future problem is if the applicant fails to continue to pay their annual fee then updates are no longer available. They cannot re-subscribe as many more than 14 days will have elapsed from the date on the original Disclosure. In this case we will have to check them again.
TNE SYSTEM IS OVER-COMPLICATED, OPEN TO POTENTIAL FRAUD AND THEREFORE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS. IT IS ALSO UNHELPFUL TO THE REGISTERED BODIES WHO ARE JUST TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING.
IT WOULD BE SO SIMPLE TO MAKE THIS AN EFFICIENT, SAFER SYSTEM.
- NO PAPER FORMS – THESE CONTAIN VIRTUALLY THE ENTIRE GAMET OF AN INDIVIDUAL’S CRUCIAL PERSONAL DETAILS – THEY CAN GET LOST IN THE POST OR STOLEN. IDENTITY THEFT IS A REAL POSSIBILITY. WE ARE IN A DIGITAL AGE. REGISTERED BODIES SHOULD HAVE A SECURE ENCRYPTED LOG-IN WITH A GADGET SIMILAR TO THOSE USED FOR ON LINE BANKING. FORMS CAN BE FILLED IN ON LINE.
- INDIVIDUALS, UPON THEIR ELECTRONIC FORM REACHING THE DBS, SHOULD BE ISSUED A USER ID.
- ONCE THE CHECKS HAVE BEEN CARRIED OUT AND THE DISCLOSURE ISSUED BOTH THE REGISTERED BODY AND THE APPLICANT SHOULD BE SEPARATELY ALERTED BY EMAIL. THEY CAN THEN LOG IN AND PERUSE THE RESULTS.
- EACH APPLICANT SHOULD BE AUTOMATICALLY PUT ON AN UPDATING SERVICE. IF THERE IS A CHANGE IN STATUS BOTH THE REGISTERED BODY AND THE APPLICANT SHOULD BE AUTOMATICALLY INFORMED BY EMAIL THAT A CHANGE HAS OCCURED. EACH CAN THEN LOG IN AND SEE WHAT THAT CHANGE IS.
- IF A REGISTERED BODY WANTS TO VET AN APPLICANT WHO SAYS HE OR SHE HAS HAD A DISCLOSURE CARRIED OUT ALREADY (WHICH WILL BY DEFINITION BE UP-TO-DATE) THE REGISTERED BODY SHOULD CARRY OUT IDENTITY CHECKS AS IS THE CASE WITH FULL APPLICATIONS AT PRESENT. ONCE SATISFIED AND UPON RECEIPT OF THE APPLICANT’S CERTIFICATE NUMBER FROM THE APPLICANT THE REGISTERED BODY CAN LOG IN AND CHECK THAT THE DETAILS MATCH AND THAT THERE ARE NO UPDATES.
- IN THE CASE OF 5 (ABOVE) THE NEW REGISTERED BODY WILL ALSO RECEIVE UPDATES REGARDING THE APPLICANT DESPITE NOT HAVING ACTUALLY CARRIED OUT THE ORIGINAL DISCLOSURE.
- THERE SHOULD BE NO CHARGE FOR THE UPDATE SERVICE. REALLY THERE SHOULD BE NO CHARGE FOR THE CHECKS THEMSELVES; IT SHOULD BE A PUBLIC SERVICE HELPING TO KEEP CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS SAFE. HOWEVER, IN A WORLD OF AUSTERITY MEASURES BOTH APPLICANTS AND REGISTERED BODIES ARE RESIGNED TO THE COST. THIS SHOULD REMAIN AT £44. IN THE FUTURE IMPROVED DIGITAL METHODS WILL REDUCE COSTS.
Private tuition really can deliver the desired results!
A snapshot survey of around 50 tutors and pupils, conducted following the latest round of GCSE and A Level results by Kensington & Chelsea Tutors and associated online platform Webtutornet, has revealed that private tuition can boost predicted results by at least two clear grades.
In just under 80% of cases pupils studying for GCSEs, A Levels and AS Levels have seen a significant increase on the results they were expecting prior to embarking on a period of private tuition.
Nevil Chiles, who founded K&C Tutors in 2002 and Webtutornet in 2012, commented: “There’s a clear trend here that reveals the impact of private tuition that is delivered either face to face or through online sessions.
“Pupils that were predicted a C or D in specific subjects by their school were able to achieve an A or B following at least five sessions of private tuition and that is despite the myriad of changes imposed on their education in recent years.
“The one to one learning approach, delivered by qualified and fully vetted tutors, gives pupils more time to digest and understand complex issues that were perhaps not made completely clear within the classroom environment,” added Nevil who has also seen an increase in pupils and their parents requesting an online tuition variation delivered through Webtutornet.
“Clearly online tuition is the way forward with more and more of today’s media savvy Facebook generation of young people opting for private tuition delivered using a safe and secure online approach such as that offered by Webtutornet,” concluded Nevil who has worked within the education sector for well over two decades.
COMMENT FROM NEVIL CHILES, MD OF K&C TUTORS & WEBTUTORNET
BBC website story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23973213
It has to be true that pupils receiving extra help will be at an advantage.
For almost all students receiving private tuition there will be a cost and so cold hard economics will obviously come into play.
Here at K & C Tutors we were involved with Westminster Council in a scheme called Making Good Progress which gave struggling pupils ten hours of both and English and Maths tuition during school time and funded by the government. Unfortunately the scheme ended with the sweeping public cuts following the recent economic downturn.
Surely this kind of project is the way forward to bridge the gap?
RAPID GROWTH IN STUDENTS SEEKING HEADSTART
The number of university students across the South East of England requesting private tuition has risen by over 50% in the last three years according to London-based tutor agency Kensington & Chelsea Tutors and their nationwide online platform Webtutornet.
Prior to 2010 the amount of enquiries from university students had remained relatively static but, since then according to Kensington & Chelsea Tutors founder and MD Nevil Chiles, interest has significantly increased:
“We’ve seen a very clear increase, year on year since 2010, from both BA/BSc and Masters students looking for extra tuition to top up their university education and the trend is hard to ignore.
“Clearly the number of foreign students across the capital and Home Counties has increased over the past few years but only by around 2 to 5% per annum. The proportion of enquiries we’ve had coming from those from overseas has remained consistent at 25%.
“This suggests, if replicated with other agencies, that students across the board are recognising the importance of getting a head start within the context of an increasingly competitive graduate job market,” added Nevil who has seen student enquiries rise from around 700 in 2008-2009 to just under 1100 over the past 12 months.
Nevil went on “About 70% are studying for a BA or BSc with Business & Marketing, Economics and Law accounting for the lions share. The male to female split has remained consistent at 50:50.
“The vast majority of enquiries we get for private tuition are for GCSE and A Level subjects, predominantly Chemistry, Maths, History at GCSE level and Economics, Psychology and French at A-Level but the proportion of university students requesting our services has grown to 10% over the past 12 months.
“It’s intriguing to note that in the post 2008 Credit Crunch world that more and more students are realising that they need to gain an advantage in some way. Private tuition, whether face-to-face or online through our Webtutornet platform, offers a clear path for them to achieve that,” concluded Nevil.
Kensington and Chelsea Tutors was founded in 2002 by Nevil and has, since then, provided private tuition to over 20,000 school pupils and university students and personally vetted and interviewed over 2,000 tutors across London and the South East.
Webtutornet was founded in 2012 to provide safe and secure online private tuition to pupils and students globally.