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.
Here’s my take on this story that appeared recently on the BBC website…
Schools failing brightest pupils
A culture of low expectations is letting down bright children in England’s non-selective secondary schools, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw says.
It’s always wise to be slightly suspicious of sweeping conclusions based on narrow statistics. The advent of League Tables pushes schools to achieve certain benchmarks; these are not necessarily aimed at higher achieving students. The important thing is for the government to sweep away as much red tape as possible and let the teachers teach. There is obviously a need to monitor standards and progress, and students of all ability levels need to be encouraged and given the best teaching and opportunities available.
The problem with finger pointing is that it has a very negative effect on teachers’ morale. It is an inescapable truth that demographics has a significant effect on the personality and ability of a school intake.
Teachers with more challenging students should be encouraged in their efforts rather than pigeon-holed as failing.
We need to encourage our teachers rather than setting them absolute goals that more often than not push them into the middle ground – the more gifted can be left to their own devices because they will pass the ‘C’ boundary and the lower achieving students receive more help to get them to that benchmark. This is an inevitable outcome of the league table system.
Here’s my take on the following education story that appeared on the BBC website…
GCSE change unpredictable results
The government’s overhaul of GCSEs in England could see exam results varying more than normal for several years, the exams regulator Ofqual warns.
I agree entirely that the current system allows schools to ‘play the system’
and any way of stopping this should be encouraged. I also believe that some weight should be given to English Language and Maths instead of them being lost in ‘the best eight’.
However, the whole system remains FLAWED. It needs to be simplified so that there is only one exam per subject at compulsory level without multiple boards setting exams. There also needs to be more focus on vocational qualifications for the less academically able. We are still stuck in a results driven culture; top grades mean top students, low grades mean lowly students. The focus should be teaching the right stuff not the grades!
I am pleased that the modular system is being phased out and that extending questions are coming back into the frame. A ‘test’ should be testing; only then can you differentiate between students. Not everybody can excel – many have talents that are beyond the academic. They should not be seen as failing if results are poor they just need to be steered in a different direction.
It will be interesting to see these changes unfold, but they go nowhere near far enough.
** Level sixth-form playing field call ** The government should level the playing field for post-16 education in England, the Sixth Form Colleges Association will tell MPs on Tuesday.
< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-21579926 >
Shouldn’t funding decisions be dependent on what is being taught and the quality of the teaching however I agree with David Igoe. Why should sixth form colleges be treated differently to institutions providing equivalent qualifications?
The report states, ‘… that sixth-form colleges tend to attract students with lower GCSE grades and higher levels of deprivation than either academies or school sixth forms.’ I fail to see why that is relevant. Are they successful institutions providing quality courses? Surely that is the only reason to level this playing field?
** Historians back Gove curriculum ** Some of the UKs leading historians endorse Education Secretary Michael Gove’s new history curriculum for schools in England.
For once I entirely agree with Mr Gove! As a History graduate myself I believe that a clear chronology is essential to understanding cause, effect and development. It seems to be creating opposition because it is difficult to achieve not because it is the wrong thing to do!
** Web safety lessons urged for infants ** Children as young as five should be given lessons in how to use the internet safely, campaigners have urged.
Much of this is about parental control! As a father of three young children I can see how computer use and the internet is of increasing interest to the young. As children become ever more I.T. savvy it is extremely important that parents carefully monitor the content they are accessing.
Publishers of unsuitable websites aimed at the young should also be held strongly to account.
Also, ever more sophisticated mobile devices are equally if not more problematic as they are far more difficult to monitor.
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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.
Research suggests the poorest children are twice as likely to struggle at maths than their classmates.