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General Chat Thread, Tough new O-Levels to replace GCSEs under Gove plan in General; BBC News - Tough new O-Levels to replace GCSEs under Gove plan Sounds like a plan Though it could all ...
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    PICNIC's Avatar
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    Tough new O-Levels to replace GCSEs under Gove plan

    BBC News - Tough new O-Levels to replace GCSEs under Gove plan

    Sounds like a plan

    Though it could all be bunkum "The details are in a leaked document seen by the Daily Mail which sources say are broadly correct" As Russell Howard says "its 60 pages of scary Bull...."
    Last edited by PICNIC; 21st June 2012 at 08:04 AM.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Sounds good to me. Get rid of all these 'GCSE Cheese Grating' and 'GCSE Nose Picking' exams that exist now. I'd not working in a secondary that did GCSEs before this last year (middle school up to year 8 before), and I can't believe the churn of people sitting exams. Its constant, and the resits are constant too.

    The system is currently designed to let any child get results, because they can try 12 times!

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    The conservatives introduce GCSE's to hide falling O'level grades as their cuts hit the educational sector in the 80's. Now they need to hide the impact of cuts in funding again....

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Slightly off topic but related; it always seems a vicious cycle to me, schools are constantly pushed to improve their grades but as they do the government is accused of making exams easier. So which is it; are schools improving or are exams getting easier? Seems like a chicken and egg question to me.

    That being said, I do think the system needs a shake up - there are a lot of schools around here who do very well in the league table (another concept I despise) but will be in for a rude awakening when they can no longer count their myriad of BTEC courses...

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    speckytecky's Avatar
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    Oh, why, oh, why, oh, why is it that they all HAVE to tinker with the system. How about we do it one final time and look at a leading academic country (one of the Scandinavian Countries I suspect) that has a proven record of getting it right and adopt their well established system rather than have this endless disruption?

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    PICNIC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speckytecky View Post
    Oh, why, oh, why, oh, why is it that they all HAVE to tinker with the system. How about we do it one final time and look at a leading academic country (one of the Scandinavian Countries I suspect) that has a proven record of getting it right and adopt their well established system rather than have this endless disruption?
    Because they wouldn't do it right and we would end up with another mess, someone would want this bit changed and someone else that bit until its messed up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    So which is it; are schools improving or are exams getting easier?
    As David Mitchell put it on QI, it doesn't matter;

    My problem with exams, though, is that more and more people get A's, so whether or not that's because they're getting more intelligent or because the exams are getting easier, or a bit of both… it's still, it's defying the point of the exam. The point of the exam is to tell people apart, not just to go "You're all great academically, everyone can be Professor of Latin, share the Professor of Latin's salary between you… and starve

    Personally I think kids do have to learn a lot more than kids of previous generations, but because of this each topic is dumbed down and not covered in any detail. I do have a problem with modular exams and parrot learning. Testing a kid on a few weeks of work immediately after doing that work, where a lot of the "work" has been learning parrot fashion for the sole purpose of passing an exam only proves the kid can remember something they were told last week and bares no relation to their understanding of that subject.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 21st June 2012 at 08:55 AM.

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    as gcse's have been around a while surely at least part of the increased sucess rate is teachers can make a good guess whats on teh papers and taylor teaching to that. Also since about the only thing anyone cares about is grades kids arnt being taught maths (for example) they are being taught how to pass a maths test (the same way a driving test dosent prove you can drive and an mot dosent mean you car is roadworthy just at the snapshot in time they werent bad enough to fail)

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    Just scrap league tables. That's the problem. All this derives from two facts: schools are made to compete on grades; exam boards are competing for profit, and their only differentiator is their exam. That logically leads to the situation we have where exam boards are in a race to the bottom, incentivised to make their exams as easy as possible and offer advantages for profit (e.g. paid training courses that show how to pass the specific exam), and schools are following them down to get the best grades they can.

    Quote Originally Posted by speckytecky View Post
    Oh, why, oh, why, oh, why is it that they all HAVE to tinker with the system. How about we do it one final time and look at a leading academic country (one of the Scandinavian Countries I suspect) that has a proven record of getting it right and adopt their well established system rather than have this endless disruption?
    What is needed - and sadly, will never see the light of day while it's politicians with the power to implement it - is a ten year moratorium on politicians interfering with education and health. No matter what state they are in, what policies are already in place, just leave them be. Leave well alone. They will both settle, find their feet, end up being controlled by the professionals (teachers, doctors) who actually understand the system and after that decade has passed, sensible corrective measures can be put in place to deal with those problems that are inherent to the system instead of these wildly overcompensating changes we get at the moment.

    As one of my techies is fond of pointing out, political logic goes something along the lines of "something must be done; this thing is something; let us do this thing".

    (I also think that politicans should be barred from becoming an MP until they have done 15 years of work in an actual job, rather than being career politicos, so they might have some understanding of the real world. Ideally said experience would be in their area of power - i.e. the education minister would be an ex-teacher, the agriculture minister would be an ex-farmer. As it stands, these positions are just titles on a CV on a politician's self-perceived path to party leader/chancellor; no-one gets into politics because they want to be health minister and fix the NHS anymore. This also ties into the "sweeping changes" habit - every politician wants to be seen as the Great Emancipator for their area of power, the one that came in, guns blazing, and fixed the world. They can't be seen to do nothing, so they insist on constantly doing something.)

    (Good lord, that grew into a wall of text. Sorry.)
    Last edited by sonofsanta; 21st June 2012 at 10:11 AM. Reason: tpyo

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  17. #10

    Geoff's Avatar
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    I disagree with the premise that having a market between competing exam boards has caused a 'race to the bottom' rather I think that it is a result of schools striving to be as high up in the league tables as they can get. Arguably by having their pupils sit the 'easiest' exams they can. Therefore the exam boards are simply fulfilling the demand created by schools gaming the system? Granted having everyone sit the same exam still fixes this problem (but wasn't the national curriculum supposed to level the playing field too?) but with the state of the league tables at the moment you can't realistically use them to compare schools performance fairly. There is a lot more to a school than its GCSE and A Level exam results.

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    maybe its time to take politiains out of education. So they give education company £x a year and the company is answerable to parliment but they can use the money how they see fit (and stuff the board with people who know about education so people who have/do work in schools). it worked for the bank of England fairly well.

    Have 1 exam board and x% is a pass always (or even grades based on number of kids so only the top 5% get a and so on that way you cant have 95% of kids getting high grades. Change grading system to a/b/c/d(possibly) fail. Limit amount of retakes to say 3 (with possible exceptions for wierd circumstances) and instead of if you take the test 3 times getting c/b/d and being able to say you got a b it should be the last grade you got that sticks. Im sure tests can be written in a way that they test your skills rather than the amount of data you can regurgitate from a text book (for instance we all know e=mc2 but anyone know all the implications other than every bit of matter contains a heck of a lot of energy)

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    There is a lot more to a school than its GCSE and A Level exam results.
    true but when was the last time you saw a newspaper headline school has 100% attendance for 6 weeks running. School invests in new x to improve pupils chances in x. what you get is school goes from 800 to 900th place in league tables. School failing pupils only 1% get a* and so on
    Last edited by sted; 21st June 2012 at 09:15 AM.

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    X-13's Avatar
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    Wait... does this mean I can legitimately say things like "Back in my day, we had GCSEs."


    Because, I'm OK with that.

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  21. #13

    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    I disagree with the premise that having a market between competing exam boards has caused a 'race to the bottom' rather I think that it is a result of schools striving to be as high up in the league tables as they can get.
    If the exam boards were still public sector with more governmental oversight, or if the regional exam boards actually were regional, there wouldn't be the picking-and-choosing of exam boards that exists at the moment. It always struck me as absurd that the English Language AS level I sat on the east coast of England was from the Welsh examination board.

    I can see there being some need for differentiation to suit teachers' personal preferences - exam board X focuses on creative writing more than exam board Y's grammar-heavy curriculum - but it has very genuinely devolved into "our exam is the easiest to pass, this is how to pass it".

    If it were only the schools competing to raise their position, they would only be able to do it by improving teaching/exam technique. It needs the exam boards' complicity to properly lower standards.

    Definitely agree that it is about more than exam results - a school's pastoral responsibilities are probably higher now than they ever have been - but that's an impossible metric to quantify despite it arguably being more important to produce rounded, capable students rather than walking text books. And as we can see with the stupidity of waiting-time metrics for hospitals*, the politicians are only interested in what they can measure.

    *most hospital visits with my daughter go something like: arrive at reception, sit down for ten minutes, see a nurse to be weighed and measured and then wait nearly two hours to see the consultant. Technically that is a waiting time of ten minutes. Define an artificial metric and then judge people on it and they will, inevitably, game the system, particularly when that metric is so unrepresentative of the service & priorities as a whole.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    I'm right in thinking a Tory government scrapped O-levels, aren't I? And now they want to bring them back... help us!

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    Part of the problem is this bogus "every child is equal and should be afforded the same chance to get the best grades".

    You know what, sorry, no, children are not all equal in terms of their abliities in education because they are INDIVIDUALS with different mindsets, skills, capabilities and interests. I was never going to be as good as RE or History as others because I didn't *want* to be, I didn't care! It's not a reflection on the school, or the teacher, it's a reflection on ME.

    Child X who studies hard and gets a B in an exam deserves that B.
    Child Y who half-arses it and eventually scrapes a C after their fourth re-sit doesn't deserve it, and it's unfair to Child X that they do.

    What are we teaching children, that it is OK to fail because you can just have do-overs until you succeed? How does that prepare for them for ANYthing in the real world? If you screw up as an adult, you pay the consequences.

    We are growing a generation of children who do not know who to fail. A generation where everyone is told they can be anything they want, as long as they give it their personal best. It's just not realisitic. Children need to be prepared for failure, they need to be taught how to cope with it.

    To quote Tyler Durden; "We've been all raised to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very. Very. Pi$$ed off about it"
    Last edited by Pete10141748; 21st June 2012 at 11:28 AM.

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