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There’s a fairly fundamental flaw in the logic that says:
Surely the opposite is true: that since a student has unfortunately failed a section of the exam:
a) that section was challenging and
b) having retaken the test, the scholar has met, and hopefully overcome, the challenge.
Indeed, it could be argued that more and not fewer modules ought to be set:
- Why not have an exams ladder, where a student studies at the appropriate level?
- Why not have ‘end of unit tests’ (cross marked between schools) which actually count towards the final result? And
- Why not enter students for an exam when they’re ready, rather than them having to wait until they’re 16?
What’s wrong with having a portfolio of grades adding up to an overall record of achievement?
GCSEs are a benchmark.
Are they the most taxing exams in the world? No. But they need to remain consistent.
Should they be harder? No. But they need to differentiate between all ability levels.
Should there be more than one level of exam for GCSE? No. But the GCSE level perhaps should be only one of a series of exam levels.
I hope universities & employers, students & teachers and exam boards & timetablers in VIth forms will appreciate the usefulness of ½ an A level.
Say you want to become an Architect. A careers advisor would probably tell you you need Physics, Art and Maths. But imagine if you could study Design Technology, Resistant Materials and Human Geography as well.
Or you want to be an interpreter. Your main language might be Italian, but you might want to continue practising other languages, look at the History of Europe and do some Arts too.
AS syllabi content could be revised and new ASs developed, and universities could continue to expect the tariff points. It’d probably be a timetabling nightmare, but…
The Government, through the Russell Group’s inexplicable focus on the ‘facilitating’ subjects, seems to be expressing what many teachers already know: that the National Curriculum is irrelevant.
The only thing that matters in school, as things stand at any rate, is to get as many 16 year olds above a D in as many GCSEs as possible.
So therefore the focus (at least at Secondary level) is on the GCSE syllabus. And the more astute in the profession have been drawing the contents of that down the Key Stages for a while now.
But any professional that cares about their subject, knows that there are holes in many of these syllabi, and perhaps foolhardily attempts to stick their thumbs in the cracks. Because they know, that to do their job well, they should be giving each student the best education they can.
“We’ve decided to reform the driving test – we’re scrapping the practical.”
Amongst many other things, schools make scientists. In practice they have an idea about something, and then devise a fair test to interrogate the hypothesis. They set up their experiment to ensure they can take readings as accurately as possible. They collect innumerable results and extrapolate conclusions, and generally decide that their original idea was rubbish.
Schools develop linguists too. Ooh Mr. Gove likes those – so long as they never have to speak in a foreign language or understand anyone else who’s trying to converse with them.
And artists? Well if there has to be Art in the curriculum, then, I dunno, just write a couple of essays on Turner or Monet or something. Don’t worry, we’ll draw our own conclusions about how good your 3D work is from that.
That’s how bad the idea to remove coursework or Controlled Assessments from GCSE exams is.
It would be funny too, if it were a joke.
In reality, what with the EU (etc.) on one side, and devolving authorities on the other, the government appears to be losing things to tinker with. Thus it concentrates its attention on the soft underbelly of things it thinks it can improve. Things like Education and Health.
I know I’m slow, but I’m coming to the firm conclusion that the Westminster Talking Shop – Governments and oppositions – really don’t have much of a clue. They seem to have 3 angles:
- experience as a client and
- the belief that things are in slow and terminal decline.
Like the last, this particular iteration of Government says it’s keen to devolve power, so I thought I’d challenge them to do so:
Put decisions about Health and Education in the hands of the professional practitioners: doctors and nurses and teachers. Let those who deal with the issues on a daily basis elect a chief executive (accountable to the relevant Government Select Committee) and let the Councils have sub-committees which address each aspect of the service.