Genuinely worried about Y7 DS and Gove's new 'O' levels...

(81 Posts)
Erebus Tue 11-Jun-13 09:04:26

here

DS stands a good chance of getting the golden 5 GCSEs inc Eng and Maths, providing I apply constant, low-grade pressure to him, as will his school, to help him achieve this. He always puts in top effort but simply isn't particularly academically gifted.

I can confidently say he will fail 'tougher exams'. He will be unable to access a 6th form (given that they aren't just about A levels alone, any more), or an apprenticeship.

Unfortunately, having dodged the bullet of Gove's 'new style' GCSEs as proposed a few months ago with his year as the guinea pigs, here we go again. If this gets toppled, Gove has, on his 'new education overhaul plan, issued every 6 months' average, 4 more chances to fuck up my child's educational future.

As DS will be in this guinea pig year, and we can be absolutely sure Gove will insist that the results demonstrate 'new rigour' i.e. fewer passes, there are unlikely to be any 'alternatives' in place to help DS and similar DC on their way- I mean, like the current slow but steady growth of higher level apprenticeships and so forth springing up to accept the DC who can no longer take the risk of the debts of a university degree without guaranteed, reasonably well paid at the end. One Day One of our DCs' emerging, blinking, from this brave new tough-GCSE world, where they, as a result of their 'fails', cannot access 6th form or apprenticeships (as these colleges will be a good year or so, minimum, behind performing the entrance requirement 'regrade' they'll have to do to get kids through their gates)- what will become of them? No amount of media hand-wringing or cold, sober analysis of the first year of results will compensate our DCs for the educational dead end they may find themselves at, all as a result of a trumped up, egotistical, arrogant, self-aggrandising Minister who rides roughshod over decades of hard-won, evidence-based 'good practice' to force a nation's state-educated children emulate what he sees as being his own, unsurpassable 'education'.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 12-Jun-13 09:30:28

'It is the antithesis of a good education'

Yes, I see what you mean, but a good education for whom? In a school with wide ranging ability, the (perhaps unwanted) gift of a package of reluctantly-received skills and qualifications is something I would have been pleased to force on recalcitrant kids. Not sure about modules in year 8, but don't actually know anywhere that does that. Only a few per cent of children get A* in any subject.

lljkk Netherlands Wed 12-Jun-13 09:30:42

I can't believe that other countries go around saying "Our qualifications were designed 30+ yrs ago so they must be obsolete". In the USA we've had the same basic High School Diploma for 70+ yrs and I can't see a huge revolution to radically rename & change that.

I shudder in horror at return to terminal-exam approach.

The US view is that girls do better in school because they engage more & better in the actual classroom (naturally more eager to please and more teachers as role models), and are inherently more inclined to work hard, nothing to do with the timetable of the work that needs doing.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 12-Jun-13 09:34:47

I feel the girls/ boy thing is largely cultural. I find the difference more to Do with the value placed on education in The family/ community than gender. Which is not to say that there is no difference in the way they learn - just not that much.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 12-Jun-13 09:36:09

In a skills based economy, lots of things become obsolete within 30 years.

prh47bridge Wed 12-Jun-13 09:39:27

I took my O levels in 1969/70/71 (one in the 4th form, most in the 5th form and an additional one in the lower 6th). Some were certainly primarily about regurgitating facts. Others needed you to analyse stuff you had been taught and produce essays. You might, for example, be asked to argue for or against a particular view.

wordfactory Wed 12-Jun-13 09:39:53

slip you are right in many ways.

My old school is now far more successful. The majority of its pupils are educated to a level of proficency, which they were not in my day!

The education offered is rather drab but then...

My main issue is with the bright kids in that school. They are not being well served. The top sets way underperform...but then I am a fan of selective education wink so, like Mandy Rice Davis, I would say that, wouldn't I?

Slipshodsibyl Wed 12-Jun-13 09:47:51

Yes I think those you mention can be ill served in some schools like this.

MadeOfStarDust Wed 12-Jun-13 09:47:55

I went to a fab school - in Scotland - in the 70s and we were taught to learn - not to regurgitate, we were introduced to a love of libraries, to entire works of Shakespeare, through the medium of the printed word and the performance - we also put our own "Shakespeare-light" type plays, modernised them etc, etc....

We had compulsory Home Economics classes where we learned to do laundry, cook and clean.

We had compulsory "Technology" classes where we learned to replace a fuse, a washer on a tap and hang a shelf (the last amid much laughter!!).

We learned to touch type and do rudimentary book-keeping as they were skills that many employers valued.

I'm unsure where that "time" has gone to in the current curriculum... it took hours of our week - even during O'Grade years...

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 12-Jun-13 10:31:47

My Year 11's who just left had for their English Literature GCSE read the whole The Tempest and Frankenstein for the CA, studied Purple Hibiscus and Woman in Black for one exam and a cluster of poetry and how to analyse an unseen one for the second exam. If you add that to the study each year of at least two novels, one from the Literary Heritage, a Shakespeare and a modern play and endless poetry I think Gove is making rather sweeping judgements about the content of the current curriculum.

ReallyTired England Wed 12-Jun-13 10:53:04

GCSES, A-levels and indeed O-levels were designed when the majority of the workforce left school at 16. We need different skills compared with 70 years ago or even 10 years ago. There are no longer a plethola of unskilled jobs for people with no qualifications.

I have no issue with harder qualifications. Young people can take exams when they are ready. We need a framework that allows people to work at their own pace and not act as a "cap on aspiration". A less able child might sit their I-level English at 18 years old and do vocational qualifications alongside. A more able child may well be able to get their I-levels out the way at 15 years old and start A-level work.

wordfactory Wed 12-Jun-13 11:01:22

I think GCSEs were a way to unify the system, and test all young people against the same bench mark.

Now that's fine, providing we accept that a decent proportion of young people will get below a C.

However once you get parents and governments demanding that the D grade student get his C, then it no longer is a system that adequately tests the upper end, because the method of teaching required and the manipulating of the system required to focus on the middle does not well serve or adequately educate and test the upper end.

It seems that what Gove is trying to do is address that.

I do wonder though, if it might be better to simply introduce a new test for the top end?

tiredaftertwo Wed 12-Jun-13 11:05:36

I know, let's get Gove to sit the current GCSEs and see how well he does. It won't matter that he hasn't had any teaching or time to work hard, because you don't need those to get high grades. smile

For most subjects, the curricula seem broad and to require quite hefty levels of understanding and critical analysis - and I think we should go in the direction of more of this, less testing factual recall, not the other way round. Computers have quite big memories, I believe....

A comparison with O levels is pretty impossible to do, and rather pointless, IMO, but it does drive me mad when the press quotes just the "easy" questions, given GCSEs are aimed at nearly the whole ability range.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 12-Jun-13 11:08:01

My dd is in Yr 7 and yes, I'm worried for her. She's dyslexic and slow and doesn't cope with exam pressure very well.

Saying that she's bright and does homework at NC Lvl 7 which apparently is good for Yr 7.

I think GCSEs would have suited her better. But I can't change it and I suppose all kids in her year will be on a level playing field when it comes to sixth form offers/uni offers.

DeWe Wed 12-Jun-13 11:12:04

Just to note: I was wrong on dates, for some reason I read as starting in 2017 meant starting GCSEs (in year 10 )in 2017, hence doing it 2 years later. Dd1 pointed it out to me. blush

There is one thing that really bothers her about it:
She doesn't like the idea of 1-8. She says she liked the A-F grading because it looks better.

CheeryCherry Wed 12-Jun-13 11:41:41

ILove I agree, Gove and the media are spewing out sweeping generalisations...my Y11 is in the middle of his GCSEs. He has studied full texts in English, not extracts. He has worked really hard, aiming for high results. His school has offered countless revision study sessions during study leave, has prepared many revision/practice papers for them to attempt online.
He is sickened that his efforts are so easily dismissed by a few news headlines. They are getting good results because they are putting the effort in.
He is taking 14 GCSEs, and has worked much harder than I ever did when I crammed for O levels.
So, if there have been too many exams and assessments, why not just reduce them, find the middle ground? Relying on one exam after several months does not suit all... I know many peers who froze with the pressure and did really badly in O levels.
And can anyone tell me why they are changing to 1 to 8? What's the point?

lljkk Netherlands Wed 12-Jun-13 11:46:38

I am pretty sure the average school leaving age is still 16 or probably a bit below, that's today's 16yos. Average years of schooling for whole UK population is 9.6 (means stopping in middle of current yr10) allowing for the fact that in the past reception was rarely a full year. If Reception is treated as a full year, average stop was middle of y9.

Easy to forget about all the dropouts.

lljkk Netherlands Wed 12-Jun-13 11:47:47

I do wonder though, if it might be better to simply introduce a new test for the top end?

seems to me like that should be the function of A-levels.

wordfactory Wed 12-Jun-13 12:40:18

lljk the reality is that applicants for university are judged (rather heavily) on their GCSE results. Often these results are given as much, if not more weight than their AS results.

lljkk Netherlands Wed 12-Jun-13 12:49:52

I think whether that's true is very highly debated on here.

lljkk - Many American states change their requirements for high school graduation all the time. When I graduated from an American high school, the year before me and the year after me had different requirements than I had as required by the state I lived in - mainly which proficiency tests were required to graduate. Not only did state requirement changes, but it differs wildly by schools - the requirement at my first high school differed greatly to the one in the catchment I moved to in 10th grade.

lljkk Netherlands Wed 12-Jun-13 17:55:07

Which is good, don't you think, LittleSporks? But it's still basically a continual assessment system, compulsory attendance age hasn't changed, the name of the qualification hasn't changed. The structural parts of the format haven't changed, and there isn't a tiering system where kids get sorted into vocational & academic types of school at the age of 11/14 whatever. I don't mind GCSEs evolving bit by bit, but this full fledged must-change-whole-format-and-the-name approach, because they can't merely be tweaked, a radical overhaul is only option, it's absurd.

lljkk Netherlands Wed 12-Jun-13 17:58:34

To be fair, I know that some states do have different types of diploma (eg) but which one you do isn't typically decided so young (sometimes 10-12 here).

prh47bridge Wed 12-Jun-13 18:12:02

As I said up thread, this is not a radical overhaul. Coursework and controlled assessment were already on the way out. So strip away the name changes and all you are left with is that they are making the exams a bit harder.

Gunznroses Wed 12-Jun-13 20:17:16

I agree with OP's daughter who said she didn't like the way the new results will look. It sounds odd as well not that this is mega important to this debate but currently we have a sample result such as:
4 A*s, 3As, 2B's, 1C.

will now become:

4 8's, 3 7's, 2 6's, 1 5 confused

savoirfaire Wed 12-Jun-13 23:11:36

Is the difference between O Levels and GCSEs really anything to do with regurgitation of facts versus freedom to read around and go beyond the syllabus? From my understanding (I did GCSEs mid-90s, DB did O-Levels early 80s, so I understand a reasonable amount about both) the difference on that really lies in the schools. I was certainly encouraged to read around the subject at both GCSE and A-Level. The subjects I got my best grades in/was best at / went on to study at uni, were the ones where I had done that additional reading around. And while I understand the concern about coursework, I thought controlled assessments had dealt with this, no? Although, in my case, my parents wouldn't have remotely dreamed of helping me out in my coursework - total anathema. Vague recollection of mum sticking some pictures into my GCSE geography coursework!

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