• What is Gove doing to our children’s education?

    4th June 2013 | News | Claire
  • For schools that opt to do the right thing by their students and allow them to take the vocational courses (such as engineering, art or music) that they would like to, because these qualifications will be valued less under Gove’s new regime, it will affect the league table results, which are likely to drop significantly.  Ministers are threatening such schools that if their league table results drop in this way that they could be taken over by Government teams.

    How are these reforms helping students, I can’t help wondering? Because from where I am standing, Mr Gove seems to be insisting all students must be good at all the traditional academic subjects, which are of course, important, but the trouble is that he has devalued everything else so the students who excel in the arts but find maths tricky, are destined for a tough time. 

    We all excel in different things and everyone’s brain works differently – but there are roles for all of us, using our natural skills and interests.  This is what creates a healthy and productive society.   

    How demoralising for students to have to fit into educational straitjackets.  And how short-sighted of ministers to fail to see the big picture.  A stubborn refusal to listen to anyone except their own and each other’s egos seems to be a common theme in this government.

    Here’s the story in today’s Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/10097344/GCSEs-to-be-replaced-by-new-I-level-exams.html

    Under plans put forward by Ofqual, the exams regulator, the highest grade will be an 8 and the lowest will be a 1.

    This will enable a higher grade to be added if necessary, so the whole grading system would not have to be re-done if it was decided there should be a greater distinction available to the top students.

    Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, previously backed the creation of an English Baccalaureate Certificate under a new exam system operated by a single awarding body, but that plan has since been abandoned.

    The aim of the I level – or Intermediate level – exams is to provide harder content for the pupils sitting them and greater differentiation among the highest-performing teenagers, The Times reported.

    Their introduction in schools from September 2015 will mark the biggest shake-up of qualifications for 16 year-olds for a generation.

    The last time such a major reform was brought in was in 1986, when the General Certificate of Secondary Education, a universal qualification, replaced the two-tier system of O-levels and CSEs aimed at different levels of academic ability.

    The new changes, details of which are expected to be published imminently, will apply to qualifications in English, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, double science, history and geography.

    Other subjects will not initially be included in the new system, meaning hundreds of thousands of Year 11 pupils will sit a combination of I levels and GCSEs until the reforms are completed.

    In another change, coursework will no longer be part of the formal assessment in Year 11, except in science, where 10% of a pupil’s marks will be awarded for practical experiments.

    Under the new marking system, many of the pupils currently achieving A* and A grades at GCSE would be expected to receive grades 7 or 6.

    Ofqual does not recommend a “pass” grade, but a grade 4 would implicitly be equivalent to a pass mark.

    The Department for Education will soon publish specifications for the subject content of each of the new qualifications, with exam boards working on this basis to design the new syllabuses.

    Earlier this year, Mr Gove admitted that his plans to scrap GCSEs were “a bridge too far” as he backed down on proposals for a new system of eBaccs.

    He said there was a consensus that the exam system needed to change but conceded that axing GCSEs was “one reform too many at this time”.

    Ofqual said last month, however, that a growing number of schools had lost confidence in GCSEs following last summer’s exam grading fiasco.

    In 2012, tens of thousands of pupils are believed to have missed out on good GCSE grades after exam boards suddenly shifted the grade boundaries between the exams taken by pupils in January and those sat in June.

    The boundaries for those exams taken earlier in the year had been found to be too low and so the change was made to prevent an excessive number of passes being achieved six months later.

    Under the new system, all end-of-course exams will be taken in the summer, except for English and maths papers that will be sat in November.

    This will make it harder for pupils to re-sit papers when they fall below the grades they had hoped for, as most exams will only be able to be re-taken a full year later.

    The Labour-led Welsh Assembly government meanwhile wants to retain GCSEs, along with the modules and assessed coursework that characterise the current model.