GCSEs are to stay!

(208 Posts)

I didn't see that coming. Sorry if there's a thread already, I did look.

story here

I think it's good to study some humanities as well as sciences up to 16 (and obviously English and Maths too, and probably a language though they're not my nor DD's greatest strength)
Personally I think there's been a bit too strong a push for the sciences over the humanities. I think we need to think and learn about the world around us in terms of history and geography. And people should be more free to follow their strengths and interests.
Personally I regret dropping history at O level, and not choosing a more humanities based degree, as even a generation ago I was strongly encouraged to study the sciences. I was interested in those too, but I think I needed more balance, and more advice/ opportunity to consider my options.
I think anthropology or geography (or some mix thereof) would have been the best subject for me at Uni on reflection.

guineapiglet Thu 07-Feb-13 13:12:02

Hi all - yes my son would have been one of the 'guineapigs' too - don't know whether to laugh or cry at the ineptitude shown towards our education system - my daughter did GCSEs last year, and they ended up a laughing stock with the fiasco re English and the realisation that Exam Boards were incompetent generally. It is just not good enough for our kids who are stuck in the middle of it.

I think in some ways we approach it all the wrong way, yes we need to listen to 'experts' ( who all seem to have differing views) but also to Universities and Employers - what do they want, what does the country need to be successful? - it clearly isn't working at the moment and it really is a disgrace that our kids are being led up one path and then the other with no coherent, long term strategy for them. They need qualifications which are coherent, rigourous, and internally recognised as being of good quality - including GCSEs, BTECs, NVQs and every other registered qualification they are attempting.

< Rant over, but I am bloody furious about their cavalier attitude towards our children> sad

cumfy Thu 07-Feb-13 13:12:10

One exam board per subject is not going ahead either. (To prevent grade inflation).

Thought this was a very sensible idea.

guineapiglet Thu 07-Feb-13 13:12:56

internationally, whoops.

Fowey123 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:33:56

We must stop politicians constantly tinkering around with education and using our kids as guinea pigs. It not only confuses the kids, but also the teachers, parents and future employers. Politicians please listen to common sense and turn your focus to pressing problems eg the economy and immigration.

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 14:15:17

Is it still the case that certain exam boards are deemed to be more academic (difficult) than others? When I did my O Levels Oxford and Cambridge Boards were definitely the most highly regarded if not traditional!

SanityClause Thu 07-Feb-13 14:25:51

DD1 goes to a superselective grammar, and has also just had to choose her options. The HT was very scathing of the EBacc. It certainly was not compulsorary for the girls to choose EBacc subjects. In fact, in the four top schools in our borough - 2 superselective grammars and 2 independent, none insist on the students opting for EBacc subjects.

Faxthatpam Thu 07-Feb-13 14:26:24

Yes gazzalw, I think that is still the case, and some schools apparently shop around to find the 'easiest' boards. I don't really understand why there should be more than one board tbh - and would genuinely be interested to hear why multiple boards are a good thing.

Very glad he has backed down on this. If it was Clegg - finally the Lib Dems have done something useful!

MY DS3 would have been a 'guinea pig' too, so I am hugely relieved, but still worried they will mess about with GCSEs too much and teachers will be confused about how to teach them.

My DS2s year were the ones affected by the English debacle, some of his friends are having to re sit their English this year at the same time as ASs - bloody cock up. angry

lainiekazan Thu 07-Feb-13 15:30:14

I agree about the boards.

I noticed that in the case of RE there is a wide difference in how academic the subject is between different boards. Perhaps that is why RE didn't make it onto the original Ebacc approved list.

The "shopping around" thing is so unfair. I remember when I was at school the school prided itself on choosing the most difficult boards for each subject - they said that the universities knew . Don't suppose they did at all.

Mum2Luke Thu 07-Feb-13 16:15:31

I wish they would stop messing around with our kids' education. My DS3 goes to high school in September and they mentioned the EBacc then. I would like them to keep studying at least one foreign language instead of dropping it before doing GCSE.

Xenia Thu 07-Feb-13 16:44:53

The change to GCSEs mostly being done in one sitting after 2 years of study is staying.

I think a reasonable list that most children in academic schools might do is
English lit
Eng lang
maths
a language (or two)
biology
chemistry
physics
history
geography

Then add on one or two from subjects like RE, music, art etc

The publication of which schools do decent subjects with the confusing similar name E something will stay and does help. Our local comp has 8% of children getting 5 GCSEs in decent subjects. It is helpful to know that. The academic private schools will have lots of children doing my whole list above or most of it - perhaps some doing one of history or geography or 2 not 3 sciences, but basically my list.

gabsid Thu 07-Feb-13 16:47:22

Great news! What an uninformed idea that seemed to have been, as if he had thought about this over night while dreaming about his old school days.

Improvements of the GCSEs are a better idea. I did like his idea of studying one modern foreign language all the way through. And I think it would be good to scrap league tables and have an average results published.

As far as I know the ebacc is NOT the same as the international baccalaureate. Ebacc is just another way of measuring the outcome of young people sitting gcses as normal. More demanding than the 5a*-c measure, similar to the outline xenia gives. It's staying, as far as I know. But children will continue to sit gcses, not a different exam altogether.

mummytime Thu 07-Feb-13 17:10:51

Ebacc is nothing to do with IB (a totally separate examination system, free of government interference but can be offered by State schools, normally sat at 18).

My DCs comp has made all kids do English (two for almost everyone), Maths, a language, Science (at least double, triple for the top sets), RE; they still given them a choice whether to do History or Geography or neither (as it is a comprehensive and some pupils will not be heading to University). Still gets 40% EBacc, 75% 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths.

Remind me someone ... what subjects are included in the (continuing) EBacc ?

In spite of DD choosing her options ATM in year 9 I'm not very clear about this ? confused

Faxthatpam Thu 07-Feb-13 17:46:20

Mummy - that sounds the same as my DCs comp. And probably pretty standard. There is also a pathway that includes the usual basics; Eng, Maths,Science, MFL, RE, ITC plus vocational BTECs, for the less academically inclined.

I'm really impressed with the BTECs actually, my DS2 is doing a BTEC and 2
A levels in 6th form and the BTEC is really interesting and challenging. He says he's getting loads more out of it than he thought he would, and will end up with quite a lot of UCAS points if he does well. He is not aiming for RG unis as they don't do the course he wants, so it suits him well. Although a friend of mine's son got onto a good course at an RG uni last yr with a Distinction in his BTEC plus A levels.

There's more to life than one size fits all GCSEs and ALevels. Wouldn't it be boring if everyone did that list of Xenia's? wink

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 07-Feb-13 17:47:39

I am fairly certain that the range of GCSE options will still be limited to an EBACC portfolio...in other words, kids will still be doing English, Maths, Science, one language, one humanity and three other options.

What has been scrapped is replacing the GCSE exams inEnglish, maths and science with another exam altogether that was going to be 'more rigorous'.

Thank fuck for that is all I could think this morning when I heard. However, as a teacher I am still waiting with some fear over the various changes still on the cards.

The shear number of changes Gove has been trying to push through for GCSE and A level in one go over the next two years is entirely unworkable

Faxthatpam Thu 07-Feb-13 17:51:35

"Thank fuck for that is all I could think this morning when I heard. However, as a teacher I am still waiting with some fear over the various changes still on the cards."

THIS! Completely feel for teachers here. Leave it alone.

cuggles Thu 07-Feb-13 19:27:03

Great news all around and as an RE teacher I am extra delighted! Particularly as I read that they will now (maybe!) look at school results based on eight subjects in which RE makes an appearance again. Employers/Universities need a working knowledge of what qualifications entail what and then they can make their judgements without constant goal post moving!
Absolutely agree with Fax too....everyone is different! Certainly I found in my early career, insisting all students did ten GCSEs regardless of ability or aptitude because that was the timetable was just so stressful for certain ones, Btecs and courses like COPE have meant all students can taste some success if they work hard rather than face failure lesson after lesson.

It annoys me that politicians still go on about course work. There hasn't been any course work for 3 years apart from in practical subjects such as Art.
Both of my DCs have done English controlled assessments which are pretty much the same as exams, sat in exam conditions. Instead of a 3 hour exam at the end of two years they have done about 15 hours worth of exams.
Terminal exams will be much less onerous IMO.

Oh that's interesting scwirrels - that you feel the exams will be less onerous when just held at the end of the 2 years with less controlled assessments as well.
- I hope so as DD just setting out on her GCSE path !

pointythings Thu 07-Feb-13 20:11:43

I'm glad the EBC is off the table, it was a stupid idea. I'm in favour of GCSEs being reformed to make them more academically challenging for the brightest, but within reach for most - this is a big ask though. I'm in favour of the proposed measure that looks at progress since 11 years old instead of just 5 GCSEs at A* to C including maths and English, much fairer as good progress can be made by all.

I'm not entirely in favour of scrapping modular exams. I went through the Dutch education system, and we had modular exams at A-level. You sat modular exams set by the school at the end of your pre-A-level year, after Christmas, after spring half term and after Easter, then central exams in May. The school-generated exams were modular, but based on the same curriculum as the central ones - and much harder. After sitting those, the centrally-set exams were easy. Modular examination can be done very, very well.

I also think the whole structure of exam boards working for profit should be scrapped. In Holland, exams are set by a single public body, whose employees work for the state. There is no profit involved, no incentive for dumbing down. Everyone sits the same exam.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Thu 07-Feb-13 20:19:19

I agree that end of course exams are less onerous...certainly students wouldn't have that constant, ongoing pressure.

However, modules allow students to learn from their mistakes and try to improve. Which is what learning is about, right?

claig Thu 07-Feb-13 20:24:55

'modules allow students to learn from their mistakes and try to improve. Which is what learning is about, right?'

But that is not what exams are all about.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 07-Feb-13 20:27:34

Can I just say that having taught a vocational subject through Btec, it is not what dc choose if they aren't academic. Some of my students had really good GCSE results and chose it because their preferred subject was vocational.

That said, I'm so pleased for those who wanted the EBAC to go, maybe now teachers can get on with the job at hand hopefully without too many more bright ideas from Government.

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