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.
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?
Cyberbullying on rise – Childline
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.
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.
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 ** Documents leaked to the BBC show ministers agreed to scrap pre-appointment checks on inexperienced free school heads despite warnings from civil servants.
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
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.
Here’s my take on the following story from BBC education
School should start above age five
Children should not start formal school lessons until the age of six or seven, a group of educationalists says.
I broadly agree with this report. With young children of my own I can see how they would benefit from less formal schooling in the early years. An early start to the ‘three Rs’ also means that the spectre of super competitive parents begins earlier in a child’s, life bringing with it the associated pressures.
Younger children should be allowed to play more; it helps them develop as people and the interaction that it inevitably entails will help to build their social skills.
Perhaps Elizabeth Truss should meet up with her Parliamentary colleagues to discuss how the gap between rich and poor can be narrowed through good governance rather than framing educational issues against a social background.
Talking about testing and evaluating reception age children is truly idiotic – let the teachers teach. Just more political nonsense.
Here’s my thoughts on a recent BBC education news story about the growth of private tuition for 11+ / grammar school entry exams….
This reflects the trend we have seen here at Kensington and Chelsea Tutors.
Although in the past eleven years we have consistently provided tutors not only for grammar schools but also for selective private and state schools, in the past five years or so there has been a marked increase. I think this is partly because tutoring has moved from being a secret weapon to a mainstream activity. Tutors are out there and parents are increasingly using them to boost students’ prospects at all levels.
It defeats me why Barry Sindall, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads Association (GHSA) says that, “The issue for GSHA is not how do you stop coaching but rather how do you stop coaching making an impact.”
Coaching of any kind is always going to have an impact and that surely is a good thing. Don’t sports professionals train hard to make themselves more proficient in their fields? We (thankfully) live an an open democracy and have freedom of choice – if tutors are out there, why not use them?
Tutoring seems to get criticised almost daily and generally the thrust is one of elitism. The increasingly expensive and exclusive private school system in this country, from Eton on down, seems to be conveniently glossed over. At least tutoring allows help to be given to students whose parents’
wildest dreams don’t even feature the cheapest private schools.
If the argument is that this is unfair then it is something the government needs to look at.
Here’s my take on the recent news that 11-year-old pupils will be ranked against peers…
** Pupils face national rankings at 11 ** Primary school pupils in England could be ranked directly against their peers across the country, under plans to change performance measures.
Disappointing and destructive is exactly how I see these proposals! Has this really been thought through? Raising the standard to an 85% pass mark of an assessment that hasn’t even been decided upon yet??
As a father of three children I feel strongly that to constantly label younger children is very damaging especially to those that are doing less well.
Surely this measure would mean a huge increase in workload for already overworked teaching staff. Why do politicians keep making new policies which are obviously just measures to try to demonstrate that they are doing something.
Please can we let teachers teach not pile them high with more bureaucracy.