Time to look at our GCSEs?

#1
Reading the Telegraph it appears that nearly a quarter of exam results in this years marking were A or A*....

GCSE results 2011: quarter of exams graded an A - Telegraph

I am NOT taking anything away from the pupils who have studied and succeded, but is it nottime we looked, and looked hard at our exams?

Surely if 25% are achieving A or A* we need to reset the results at the very least. This result, whilst it looks good on a results/stats page actually makes it difficult for us to see the quality to raise in to University.

Or are the exams themselves not to blame, but hte league tables causing schools to 'teach to the test'?

What changes could be made to the examnations?

Course work? More or less?
Exams? Greater or lesser effects upon the results?
Should we encourage greaater learning skills or greater fact retention?
 
#3
I think the whole exam system in this country is buggered. A friend of mine got an A level (yes I know this thread is about GCSE's) in psychology, the only problem being that she didn't take either of the two exams and there was no course work. If you can pass without taking the exam, how on earth does anyone manage to fail the *******?
 
#4
In the days of yore when you got a school certificate for the completion of 5 years secondary education I got a distinction in both RE & PE..... I never attended either let alone sat an exam.

Along with my certificate for swimming 30yds breaststroke it has served me well. :)
 
#5
Surely if 25% are achieving A or A* we need to reset the results at the very least. This result, whilst it looks good on a results/stats page actually makes it difficult for us to see the quality to raise in to University.
I wouldn't worry about it. Universities are slowly but inexorably being turned into degree factories where all that matters is the financial forecast and meeting 'sales' targets. Before too long, a degree from a UK university won't be worth shit either.

It always makes me laugh when people try to blame it on political meddling or social engineeing and claim a more 'businesslike' attitude would sort it out when in cold, hard and objectively measurable fact it's the businessmen who're ruining it. They just can't get their heads around the idea that a 'customer' shouldn't be allowed to 'buy' the 'product' unless they're qualified to do so first.

I recommend snooker-ball-in-a-sock therapy for them all.
 
#6
"OMG, OMG, OMG. I just got 74 GCSEs! Yeeeeaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!! All A+ apart from "Sink Cleaning", which was a B-, but I'm going to appeal it. Heeeeeeeey, I'm going to tuck my flab down my leggings and cry on Sky News. It's so emotional. I worked for two hours and got my dad to do the essay for me, bless him. AAAAaaaaiiiiieeeeee, Lavinia and Georgina got 104 GCSEs between them." (Bursts into tears)

Sky reporter in flak jacket: "And what are you going to do now?"

"I'm going to go to the University of Thornton Heath and become the next General Secretary of the UN".

Overpaid Man With Beard: "I think we should be celebrating today. And as for those who think the exams are easier, Albert Einstein would certainly have failed the 'crayon your thoughts about diversity' exam, and he was a clever man. I read about him on Wikipedia.

Sky reporter in flak jacket: "And now the weather".
 
#7
They just can't get their heads around the idea that a 'customer' shouldn't be allowed to 'buy' the 'product' unless they're qualified to do so first.
I've actually got no problems with unis taking people that are not 'qualified'... after all the OU doesn't have entry quals at all. That said, the output at the end (ie the Degree) should be of a standard to actually mean something.
 
#8
This is not a new issue in my opinion.
I took G.C.E. History and was double entered for C.S.E. in the same subject (got and 'A' and Grade 1) in June 1983.

As a "favour" to the history faculty of my school (as I had done BOTH exams recently), I took a "pilot" G.C.S.E History as mock in the November/ Spring 1984 (not Sure now) after I had started my 'A' Level.
I know I was of the opinion THEN that it was far more akin to a CSE, than to the GCE. From that time onwards, I thought that the GCSE was nothing but a waste of time.

I got the impression over the years though, that the process of "dumbing down" the educational system has a longer history. My Father "metricullated" something like 12 subjects, no choice in which, in 1950 and that sounds and sounded to me a VERY tough hurdle.
My Mother, in the later 1950's, took G.C.E.'s and I think that they were probably harder than the ones I took. Either that, or in the some way as fishermen tell tails, my Mother was "expanding" the reality too.

The Modular type degree, the type which I took, also seems to be "easier", if for no other reason than it allows students to avoid subject matter that might be harder for them. God knows the A-levels of recent years seem jokingly easier.
The fact though that 25% are graded "a' belies any attempt to deny that things have changed. The old "Bell Curve" grade divisions would have made that simply impossible. I was told after taking my A-levels that the difference between a "A" and "C" in History had been 3.9%, obviously to conform to the Bell Curve.
 
#10
I've actually got no problems with unis taking people that are not 'qualified'... after all the OU doesn't have entry quals at all. That said, the output at the end (ie the Degree) should be of a standard to actually mean something.
The OU is a unique option and can only realistically exist because it is. It relies almost entirely on traditional universities to produce it's teaching staff, most of whom are lecturers elsewhere earning pin-money.

The other uncomfortable fact is that you need to be selective to maintain academic excellence amongst students and staff; you need to do it because that's what produces the research results. If we don't, someone else will.
 
#11
The OU is a unique option and can only realistically exist because it is. It relies almost entirely on traditional universities to produce it's teaching staff, most of whom are lecturers elsewhere earning pin-money.

The other uncomfortable fact is that you need to be selective to maintain academic excellence amongst students and staff; you need to do it because that's what produces the research results. If we don't, someone else will.
I'll have to dig it out, but a homeschooled kid with no quals othr thn a level 1 OU course got in to Oxbridge...
 
#13
My son has received A and A* today, he openly admits its a farce and hasnt a clue about the subjects, I am quite passionate about mathematics, his A* is in statistics. He said he only did so well because of our crash refresher, (which I feel good about)
 
#14
I'll have to dig it out, but a homeschooled kid with no quals othr thn a level 1 OU course got in to Oxbridge...
The OU qualifications are quite well respected and they give a definite benchmark against which they could judge that person's potential as a student. I'd be surprised if they took a school-leaver-aged person without a single qualification as that's how they shortlist for their aptitude tests.

Education's intrinsically hierarchical: "I teach this to you, you demonstrate to me how well you have learned what I have taught and then I grade you accordingly". It's why we have exams in the first place, to place people in an order of merit. It's a shame so many people want to bugger it about.
 
#15
My son has received A and A* today, he openly admits its a farce and hasnt a clue about the subjects, I am quite passionate about mathematics, his A* is in statistics. He said he only did so well because of our crash refresher, (which I feel good about)
You see I don't know why statistics is a GCSE. AS/A level yes, GCSE no. Surely it could just be covered as part of maths. Is anyone who is looking for sch a qual going to be happy with just a set of GCSEs?
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development is increasingly finding School leavers are not employable.

CIPD -

In contrast to the growing proportion of employers looking to recruit overseas workers, employers’ overall hiring intentions for young people have fallen since Spring 2010 when employers were last asked these questions in the survey. Only 12% of employers plan to hire 16 year-old school-leavers in the three months to September 2011, down from 14%. Similarly, the number of employers planning to recruit school-leavers aged 17-18 and above has fallen to a quarter (25%) from almost a third (31%) in the same period.

The number of employers planning to take on higher education leavers under the age of 24 is 38%, compared to 47% last year. However, the Government’s efforts to boost the employment of apprentices appears to be working, with 37% of respondents planning to recruit apprentices compared with 24% last year.

When asked what skills the Government should focus on improving to encourage more employers to recruit young people, respondents identified literacy (53%) and numeracy (42%), as well as employability skills, such as good customer service skills (40%) and good communication skills (40%).
Businesses are in the business of making money. If school leavers are not equipped with the skills to help businesses achieve those objectives, they won't get hired. The two top reasons are literacy (53%) and numeracy (42%). So, despite ever increasing exam grades, people at the sharp end (employers) are increasingly finding school leavers are lacking the "three R's". And that is a dire criticism of our educational system.

Wordsmith
 
#17
He isnt in his last year, the brighter ones get to take Stats early and under the current system get an extra qual out of it. I am pointing both my kids towards the OU, my argument being, for the tuition fees I can buy and insure a car and pay your OU fees cheaper than you attending a Uni, my daughter is veterinary bound, I again have said she can go to Liverpool on a daily basis if necessary, we are not paying halls fees.

The army compensation for potential vets, doctors and dentists is very generous, currently just under 15K a year for your last 3 years, after successful completion of your first two years at uni, which seems fair
 
#18
This is not a new issue in my opinion.
Of course not. The rules have changed, that is all.

When I did my A-levels, all nine of them, we had the 'choice' of trying for Oxbridge 4th or 7th term. The school insisted we all did 7th term (thus cutting our chances of getting in by 50%) so they could show prospective mothers in their leopard print coats a room full of Oxbridge, 6th form hopefuls, draped all over the furniture in the prefect's room.

They also insisted that we picked 'academic' subjects. I picked English at Trinity Oxford (20 Ruperts for every place) and was shown the door sharpish. If I had the sense to pick clit-flicking and Egyptology at St Hughs (1 thick Lesbo from Wales for every 2 places), I would have got in and would have spent my formative years riding around Oxford in a cape, with a scar over my left eye and a wand in my purse.

I didn't get in, probably because I'm as thick as shite.

To be honest, I'm glad I didn't go. The last time I was in Oxford (I live near there) all the students seemed to be either from Hong Kong or the Hamptons. Not sure there's much of a filthy student life there anymore, tbo.

The last thing you want when your'e 17 and have got a stonk on is to go to bed and listen to some Chinese bird deconstruct Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, smiling and bowing at you while you cover your erection with a copy of the Spectator.

Sandhurst is no better. I was on a train recently, full of earnest young men, off for their first term. As I watched the Surrey Hills pass by the window, all I could hear (while earwigging) was a bunch of kids discussing whether Napoleon should have committed the Imperial Guard earlier in the day at Waterloo and why Pickett's charge at Gettysburg was a big no-no.
 
#19
I'll have to dig it out, but a homeschooled kid with no quals othr thn a level 1 OU course got in to Oxbridge...
Oxford University accept 120 Open University credits as a suitable alternative entry qualification to A Levels.

Cambridge similarly accept this as an alternative qualification, but it cannot be at Level 1 - it must be at at least level 2.

Bristol and Exeter accept 60 credits as an alternative.

The OU is held in quite high regard.

As to the GCSE issue - the problem is, as always, the Labour Party, who have consistently buggered up education over the last 50 years. It's part of their socialist agenda that everybody should do well, and the easiest way of obtaining this is to change the definition of "doing well".

First they did this with "Five GCSEs at A*-C". Then they amended this so that it can include absolutely any subjects whatever including GCSE Hair Dressing - i.e. subjects that are not academically rigorous.

Universities really should be much more heavily involved in the designing of curricula. To me it makes sense to say "What level do you need somebody to be at in X field when they begin your course?" and then work backwards toward GCSE.
 
#20
It always makes me laugh when people try to blame it on political meddling or social engineeing and claim a more 'businesslike' attitude would sort it out when in cold, hard and objectively measurable fact it's the businessmen who're ruining it. They just can't get their heads around the idea that a 'customer' shouldn't be allowed to 'buy' the 'product' unless they're qualified to do so first.
Blaming businessmen for that is like blaming tigers for eating deer. Businessmen go into business to make profit. Expecting them to care whether or not somebody is going to make a good student is naive at best. If I could make money putting mongs through uni, I would - and I'm sure you would too with cash on the table.
 
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