Tag Archives: Education


This is one of many work files belonging to a colleague of mine. It contains worksheets and notes pertaining to “stuff” that has been, but no longer is, part of GCSE Physics syllabuses. Not the full GCSE Physics course, just the stuff that’s no longer there.

Why does she keep the work? Well, every so often, a topic gets re-inserted, or comes up somewhere else, so the material can be used either as-is, or modified to fit.

What a colossal waste of time and effort!

  • We know the canon of Physics.
  • We know the Scope (for each level) and the Sequence it should be taught in to get the best results.

Why are we dictated to by exam boards and government about what gets taught at KS4&5?

It makes no sense to suddenly take out, or add great swathes of knowledge, as seems to happen.

Subject specialists, at all levels, and in all subjects, ought to come together and sort out the syllabuses properly. Then review them in 5 yearly intervals.  And the same body of knowledge ought to be the basis of all assessments.

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

I’ve always thought that pupils learn best through practical enquiry.  By developing programmes of study that require investigation,  students develop the skills necessary to accompany the knowledge too.  This is backed up by research into learning retention rates:

But of course, this is just “Leftie progressive” nonsense! :/

It seems that Sir John Major has found his voice,

and what he’s saying seems to be causing a stir. Most recently, in a speech to the South Norfolk Conservative Association, he attacked the “truly shocking” privilege of the privately educated elite.

In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately educated or the affluent middle class. To me from my background, I find that truly shocking.”

I don’t disagree with Harry Mount’s observation in his Daily Telegraph blog: that the private education sector has enjoyed recent popularity. Nor do I disagree with his analysis of why: the demise of the grammar school. Indeed I’ve said as much myself. But I do find his solution to John Major’s revelation completely perverse: to reinstate grammar schools. How can a stratified society possibly be less unequal with more segregation? Quite frankly if we want a more meritocratic society, then that needs to start in education: a level playing field of no selection and no school fees.

Mr. Mount was keen to extol Mr. Gove’s achievement to reinstate O levels in all but name, and blame the whipping-boy, Mr. Clegg, for reining in plans for the reintroduction of grammar schools.

“Michael Gove is the first Education Secretary in half a century who has tried to turn the tide but it’s a pretty powerful tide to turn. It’s not just the near-abolition of grammar schools that’s led to this tragic decline in social mobility. The dumbing down of exams, the removal of O-Levels, the decline in rigour of what is taught and how exams are marked, the priority of thoughts over facts, the fear of difficulty, the fear of history… The list goes on and on.

“Gove has done his best to turn the clock back in many of these areas. But, on the big question – the return of grammar schools – he has no chance, as long as the government is in coalition with Nick Clegg, who is so determined to pull the ladder up behind him.”

Well do keep up at the back! Mr. Gove’s penchant is for Free Schools, and the wholesale privatisation of state education, Mr. Mount. And judging by Chile’s and Sweden’s experience, if that were to happen here, then we really would see a dramatic decline in education.

AS a measure of attainment,

I hope universities & employers, students & teachers and exam boards & timetablers will appreciate the usefulness of ½ an A level.

In the maelstrom of Mr. Gove’s latest surprise to mɿoʇƨnɒɿƚ education to his rose-tinted past and the media reaction to itI had an idea:

Sitting a mixture of A level and AS level exams might engender a more flexible approach to study.

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…

So, Mr. Gove stands up in front of parliament and says,

“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 Constable 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 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:

  • ideology,
  • 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.

College of teachers

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