Streaming and Setting. Should we or shouldn’t we?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29051923

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!?

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Centralise UK Compulsory Education NOW

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.

Bigger classes for budget efficiency – WHAT NONSENSE AGAIN

Does the government just trawl through statistics in an effort to find a way to lower standards through budget cuts? How can anybody seriously put forward the point of view that larger class sizes will not effect standards? Why can’t the government focus on improvement rather than cost cutting?

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29063679

As IT moves forward we should seek to tackle cyberbullying

Cyberbullying on rise – Childline
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-25639839 >

As a father of three and Managing Director of a company providing web-based learning this a very worrying report. For children today the world is a very different place than it was for myself growing up in the 1970s and 80s.

Sadly, bullying and racism were ever present then as they are now.

In a pre-internet world these issues were somewhat easier to identify. The problem now is that in a Facebook / social media world it is easier for cowardly bullies and racists to remain faceless and untraced.

ChildLine should be praised for giving young people a place to turn.

My eldest, at nine years old, is only too well aware of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc.. It is up to me as a parent to police it. In my opinion facebook should have an age ceiling of at least 16. There is so much out there that is unsuitable it cannot be filtered by parents with increasingly computer savvy children; they should not be allowed to access it.

The world has changed and we should embrace the change. However, it is happening so fast that it is difficult to keep up and therefore difficult to understand what our children can get access to via the internet.

Also, for children, there is bound to be pier pressure, as there are bound to be children who’s parents allow them to access social media when they are younger. It is also easier for us beyond a certain age to forget that all this content can be accessed on mobile phones – no computer necessary.

So when should I allow my children to have a phone? Great for parent to child contact and safety, but the rest?

This is a debate that will run and run as information technology gallops forward. As a parent I find it all very worrying.

The fact that Webtutornet records all lessons and allows no computer sharing is for a very good reason.

 

It’s up to parents on 11+ exam prep!!

Here’s my take on a BBC education news story concerning an educational charity that says the culture of coaching pupils for 11-plus exams must end so poor bright children are not excluded from grammar schools.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-24850139 >

This is cold, hard economics. The Sutton Trust’s opinion on 11+ preparation is absolutely sound; it is unfair. The issue here runs far deeper into society as a whole, right to the roots of our nation. If we are an open, democratic, free market economy should we subsidise tuition for those from poorer backgrounds or should we look deeper and focus on how we can make those families less poor?

There are major issues here. Who do you subsidise? Who will pay for this tuition at the back end of a double dip recession?

According to the BBC, ‘the report suggests giving priority to poor, bright pupils who meet certain entrance requirements and are eligible for the pupil premium because their families have been in receipt of certain benefits in the previous few years.’ Will not people argue that this unfair to families who work very hard to scrape the money together to provide tuition for their children to help them gain grammar school places? Could this not be a disincentive to families on benefits to find work and leave the grasp of the benefits system?

I continue to believe that the only solution to these problems is root and branch reform of the UK Education system as a whole. Qualified teachers only, no Free Schools, abolition of the multiple examination board system, back to challenging examinations at 16 with the same exams sat by all, introduction of vocational qualifications at school in tandem with compulsory education for 14 – 16 year olds, decent and fair pay for teachers, slashing of red tape; the list goes on.

With better education for all the middle class scrum for grammar school places would be reversed.

 

 

Free School head checks scaled back… unbelievable!

** Free school head checks scaled back ** Documents leaked to the BBC show ministers agreed to scrap pre-appointment checks on inexperienced free school heads despite warnings from civil servants.

< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-24653574 >

Why do we allow this sort of thing to happen? Would companies consider employing managers of any description if they had no previous experience?

And yet the government is endorsing a system of ‘free’ schools where no qualifications are required. Although there are perfectly good teaching staff with no formal teaching qualifications, To base an entire teaching hierarchy on this premise is fraught with potential problems.
As in almost any profession or skill there is no substitute for training and experience. Only with plenty of both can quality be guaranteed.
Unfortunately, perpetual changes within the teaching profession over the past decade or so have made it less and less attractive as a career prospect. Mountains of paperwork, league table pressures and backsliding over pension promises are just a few of the reasons why teaching is not appealing to our talented graduates.
Introducing an easy route in is not the answer. The answer is proper training, proper pay and a clearer, less complicated education system. If we had this, teachers might get the respect they deserve and encourage future talent to lend their skills. Teaching as a career should be in demand, not a last resort.
Headships should be earned through service and experience in the same way that employees in other fields progress through the ranks as their experience and expertise grow.
This is all just more cost cutting in disguise. And as with all cost cutting the victim is quality.

 

 

Here’s my take on this recent story on the BBC Education website

** Most A-level grade predictions wrong ** An exam body reveals that most A-level grade predictions from schools are incorrect when final results are published

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-24625972

Grade prediction is actually very difficult to do accurately. It is relatively easy to band a student within a few grades but very difficult to be precise unless they are at the extremes of ability. With the enormous pressure of league tables it is no wonder that there is a tendency for predicting higher grades. Independent Schools, who come off best in this study, often have less to prove. I don’t think we should be too critical – it is an inexact science and there are various factors which can effect the end result, not least examination nerves.