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

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!?

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.

UK education…GCSE exam changes nowhere near enough!

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.

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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.



Latest blog on level sixth form playing field call

** 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.
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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?





** UK education sixth best in world **
An international education league table puts the UK among a leading group of countries headed by Finland and South Korea.
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The Department for Education must have a filing cabinet somewhere labelled ‘staple responses’.
“We are driving up standards right across the board by bringing the best graduates into teaching, developing a world-class curriculum, and restoring order to our classrooms.” Are they?; there are many, many people who would strongly disagree.

“We are driving forward the academies and free schools programmes with more than half of secondary schools now enjoying academy status.” So academy status is a good thing? Free schools are an excellent idea? There are many Juries and lots of them are still out.

“We have introduced the EBacc so more pupils are encouraged to study the core academic subjects that universities and employers demand and we will be introducing a new, far more rigorous examination system.” Will be introducing…? Do we want an EBacc system? All of this is still being vigorously debated; once again a D of E spokesperson comes up with what they do best. Words and waffle.

Global League tables are a useful indicator but we should be very careful about comparing systems from societies that are culturally disparate. Is it really possible to meaningfully compare the education system in Hong Kong with the UK?

The frustrating thing is that the answer should not be difficult. Hard compulsory exams at 16 containing information that school leavers might actually be glad they learned if they never open another book. Tandem vocational qualifications for those less inclined towards academics. A Levels should be kept but rolled back to when they were challenging. Hard exams for 18 year olds will give us a clear picture of abilities. Universities and employers will be able to trust the grades and know the calibre of candidate they are getting without having to re-check. Let’s get away from this ridiculous situation where the sole driver seems to be everybody passing and going to University. Pretending everybody is an academic could lead to a future with the potential to have generations of ill-educated, debt ridden ex-students.

Online private tuition gets personal!



The desire for safety and security both online and in face-to-face tutorials is paramount


Mothers are overwhelmingly the driver in choosing private tuition for their children


The importance of online private tuition mirroring the conventional approach cannot be underestimated


The periods leading up to exams are when demand for private tuition is at its highest


Children are generally more technologically savvy and more open to the idea of learning through the web


Online and conventional private tuition produces tangible results leading to better educational outcomes


The rapport between student and tutor is critical to success. Lessons should be fun as well as informative!


The rapid growth in private tuition in the UK over the past decade has coincided with a corresponding rise in the number of online tuition resources and services available for students with Webtutornet as one of the latest and most innovative entrants into the market.


Established by education expert and former teacher Nevil Chiles, who founded the Kensington & Chelsea Tutors private tuition agency in 2002, Webtutornet is already proving to be a popular solution for parents such as mother of three, Erica Rifat, who explained:


“The single most important consideration as a parent is that the system is safe and secure. Webtutornet take this aspect very seriously.”


Nevil responded: “Mothers are predominantly the driver in choosing private tuition for their children. They are generally more engaged in their child’s educational development on a day to day basis and always demand the highest of standards. Through K&C Tutors we’ve interviewed over 2,000 tutors over the past decade with each and every successful tutor CRB checked and


Erica went on “Another great advantage of Webtutornet’s approach is that the lesson is at a fixed time mimicking the discipline required within a school environment or for a conventional 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.”


Nevil, who had the idea for Webtutornet over two years ago, commented: “We have tried to replicate every possible facet of a face to face meeting between teacher and student. Every tutor and student that registers receives a special pack that contains headphones, a webcam and a mouse pad and pen that allow tutor and pupil to access shared online resources both safely and securely during a tutorial. No software is required and it’s definitely not a Skype style approach.”


According to Nevil it’s the months leading up to the January and summer exams when demand for private tuition peaks.


“It’s common sense for parents to want their children to do as well as they can in exams. They are the single biggest indicator of educational achievements and a well structured and focused series of private tutorials, either face-to-face or online will be critical to achieving desired outcomes,” said Nev.


The growth in online tuition resources and methods mirrors the rapid rise in the role of the internet in all our lives as Erica admitted: “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.


“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 and delivering private tuition through the web is rapidly becoming a norm,” she added.


The primary objective of private tuition is clearly to raise a student’s educational attainments within a specific or range of subjects. The key to success according to Nevil is the relationship that develops between tutor and student.


“Private tuition is a proven method of improving performance and that’s why it’s grown exponentially in recent years. Parents see and hear about the experiences of friends and colleagues and decide to put it into practice.


“It’s not a decision that’s taken lightly and they have to have an idea in mind of what they view as a successful outcome. It can be difficult to measure something as subjective as this but all of the feedback we get suggests that each course of private tuition leads to a rise of at least one grade, often more.


“However the success of private tuition is heavily dependant on the rapport that is created between tutor and student. This simply has to work both online and in person and making lessons fun and engaging, rather than dull and monotonous, is an essential part of private tuition,” added Nev.


For more details visit and





I think that this announcement is broadly very positive. Getting rid of GCSEs is monstrously overdue. We do need more rigorous testing and we do need single board examinations.
However, extending education for all up to 18 is a mistake. There will always be students who perform badly in academic examinations for a wide variety of reasons. Why is there not a vocational element built in to these changes?
Give academically weaker students the opportunity to study mainstream subjects… they will probably be thankful for it in later life (if not so at the time!). but also let such students study towards skills that will make them employable when they leave school.
Why can’t we have students studying towards being electricians or carpenters alongside the traditional subjects? Let’s not have weaker students ‘catch up’ until they are 18. Armed with a grounding in a trade they could leave school at 16 and find meaningful employment.
Also, why do we have to jump on the Baccalaureate band wagon? Can we not at least be original and not confuse it with all the others?
Follow me on Twitter @kandctutors @webtutornet

Give teachers fair pay and conditions!!

 Teachers vote to strike over pay
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With my children at school the possibility of industrial action is worrying however I agree that teachers are being treated unfairly by the Government. What they are asking for is fair. If morale in schools is low this will clearly be reflected in teaching standards which affects us all.
Give teachers fair pay and conditions!!
Follow me on Twitter @kandctutors or @webtutornet

UK exam system needs root and branch reform in reference to GCSE results

** GCSE grades fall for first time **
There is a fall in the proportion of GCSEs awarded an A*-C grade, for the first time since the exams were introduced 24 years ago.
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It is good that the relentless ‘improvement’ in GCSE results has been slightly curtailed. I can’t help thinking that all the talk of dumbing down has had a major effect on these results.


As the article says, “… head teachers representing dozens of schools say some students have been marked down by an entire grade in English compared with the results that teachers had predicted.”


Perhaps the way things were done this year differs from the last? This system of “comparable outcomes” is a way of representing results that is cause for concern to many in education.


Because Ofqual “…told exam boards they would have to justify any results notably different to those of previous years,” I’m sure they were more concerned than normal about publishing record grades.


The grass roots problems remain unchanged. The exams are too easy and not fit for purpose; the system needs to be overhauled, root and branch.

GCSE, CSE, O’Level Proposal U-Turn

From BBC website….

Michael Gove hints at dropping CSE plans

Education Secretary Michael Gove has hinted he may not introduce a new CSE-type exam alongside the expected return of O-levels……

I wholeheartedly welcomed these original suggested changes. It is about time we swept away dumbed-down GCSEs. I do, however, disagree that there should be a second level of exams for pupils deemed less able.
The whole point of an examination system should be to test and compare. Results in an examination should reflect the candidate’s ability. If an individual scores a low mark this shows their ability. These students should not be seen as underachievers, they should be helped to find their vocation in life.
Students who are unlikely to score well (or indeed any candidate who wants to) should be given the opportunity to learn practical skills at school in tandem with academic subjects. In that way a student who gets what society deems to be ‘bad’ results may emerge from school at sixteen with meaningful training towards becoming (for example) a tradesman.
For years I have been saying that there should be a single examining body; perhaps, finally, this might come into being.