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.
Here’s my take on a story that appeared on BBC education
Parents too guilty to go private
An elite private schools leader says parents are made to feel it is morally unacceptable to pay for an education.
I don’t know why representatives of private schools at their conferences bother to try to cause minor controversy in order to get into the press. Is not every private school in the country over-subscribed? As a parent I know that all you want for your children is the best opportunity possible.
I was state educated, thoroughly enjoyed school, have retained many friends and achieved good qualifications. My positive feelings about my school years leans me towards the state sector because that is my experience, not because of any kind of stance. I have friends who were privately educated, some of whom boarded, who also had a very positive experience and wish to replicate that for their children.
There are obviously people who find private education morally unacceptable; I wonder what their attitude would be after a windfall?
Keeping an open mind and checking your bank statements is probably the way forward.
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.
My views in relation to this recent story on A Levels…
A-level plans challenged by school and university heads
This is what I have been saying for years. Make A Levels linear and difficult! Universities are not fooled by candidates who relentlessly retake modules. Examinations are about assessing ability not staying power. I totally disagree with Brian Lightman quoted below.
ASCL’s general secretary Brian Lightman said: “The argument that A-levels are not preparing students adequately for university is contradicted by the fact that one in six achieve first class honours – a three fold increase over the last 13 years.”
Achieve first class honours in what subjects at what Universities? ‘University’ entry has exponentially increased over the past decade and not always to renowned establishments providing cutting edge courses. I wonder if Mr Lightman has looked at similar statistics for Oxbridge and the red brick Universities?
The O Levels and A Levels of the seventies are the standards we should be aspiring to.
Hard exams which identify ability across the whole spectrum are a much better reflection of achievement not dumbed-down nonsense pretending everybody is an academic.
Head teachers say they remain committed to legal action in the unresolved dispute over GCSE English grades.
The rapid growth in online private tuition over the past few years is no surprise to mother-of-three Erica Rifat from Oxford!
“This is the way the Facebook generation have got used to communicating and it’s a process they’ve become very comfortable with as opposed to the parents who are still, on the whole, coming to terms with this sort of technology,” explained Erica, one of whose daughters has been using Webtutornet to top up her knowledge of Maths.
“Whilst I’m not exactly a technophobe it still feels that this technology is like something out of Tomorrow’s World and I’m sure that’s the case for many parents. It’s a sign of the times and the way the web is becoming increasingly ingrained in our lives. For children today all of this is completely normal.
“I know there’s a lot of Skype style face-to-face tuition solutions out there for parents and pupils that might be too busy to arrange a home tutor visit so this offers a convenient way of adding to their classroom education.
“The single most important consideration as a parent is that the system is safe and secure and that the tutor involved has been vetted by the tuition facilitator and I know that Webtutornet, through Kensington and Chelsea Tutors, take this aspect very seriously.
“You have to have peace of mind if you are to entrust your child’s education into the hands of a relative stranger online and I found it important personally to chat initially online with the tutor that we use. That puts your mind at rest.
“Secondly you must be confident that the information shared during the lesson remains confidential and secure and this is very much the case with solutions such as Webtutornet.
“Since then each and every lesson has gone very smoothly and it’s a simple and easy way of delivering private tuition.
“Another great advantage of an approach like Webtutornet is that the lesson is at a fixed time mimicking the discipline required within a school environment or for a home tuition visit. Your child has to be ready to start or they may miss part of the lesson and this is crucial to structuring their understanding.
“Finally I no longer have to drive across town and drop my child off at a tutor’s house and be left to twiddle my thumbs for an hour or so. It cuts out all of that hassle,” added Erika who admitted to having test trialled other online systems.
There’s also significant advantages from the tutor’s perspective as Angad Rihal, the maths teacher engaged by Erika, explained: “Webtutornet is a truly bespoke solution that has been developed for the student with teaching in mind. The ease of use clearly shows it has been masterminded by people in the industry and is far superior to just using dabble board or Skype.
“This is finally bridging the gap between the internet and private teaching which is long overdue and fitting given the tech savvy zeitgeist.
“It also saves a lot of time on travelling to the homes of students which, with traffic the way it is, can be a priceless advantage,” added Angad
Each tutor and pupil who sign up to Webtutornet receive a special pack containing a webcam, earphones and microphone and a pen with mousemat that allows for tutor and pupil to share resources that are stored securely online.
The Webtutornet system has been two years in development according to the man behind it. Nevil Chiles, founder of Kensington and Chelsea Tutors a decade ago, has seen demand for private tuition sky rocket over the past ten years
“Online delivery is the natural next step in the evolution of private tuition and there’s a number of different businesses and websites that specialise in providing face to face education through the web.
“Coming from the perspective of a father of three it was very much my priority to design a system that countered all of the concerns that a parent might have and safety and security have always been my number one objective,” added Nev.
Erica concluded: “My daughter and I thought our tutor Angal was brilliant and by far the best Maths tutor she has had. The proof is in the pudding and she performed far better than expected in the exam for which she was preparing.
“Webtutornet is a fun way to learn for children and tutors, such as Angal, create engaging lessons that really enhance the learning process. It couldn’t be more simple, or secure, and I would encourage parents everywhere to give it serious consideration.”
Nevil’s brother, ITV Sport presenter Adrian Chiles, is another convert to Webtutornet: “You can learn anything, anytime, anywhere and it’s so simple even I can understand it!”