What are peoples thoughts on the English Baccalaureate ??

(205 Posts)

I know what I think, but i'm wondering if i'm alone in my thoughts.

So, any opinions ?

TalkinPeace2 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:30:27

its bollocks thought up by Gove to make Grammars look good and comps look bad but it backfired so he'll move the goalposts before the league tables come out in January
and its all hogwash anyway because he's changing the curriculum so much and so fast that the next few years' results will not be inter comparable
which is a right bugger for our children
not that he cares as his are teeny and will go private

I'm currently fuming. It seems to be setting less able children up to fail, right ??

Less vocational sunjects, no coursework, or controlled assessments, just one exam. So, only good for the super academic who sail through exams then.

lurcherlover Wed 21-Nov-12 20:40:40

It's morally abhorrent. It devalues subjects like Art, Drama and Music - subjects which enrich and add value to children's lives. Schools shouldn't be merely exam factories, which is what Gove wants them to be. I'm a secondary English teacher BTW.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:45:13

sorry OP
did not realise you were talking about his mooted brand new exam
ignore that - not gonna happen

Seems very sensible to me, though I am not sure what is so novel about it.

We had to take, double maths, double English, one foreign language, one science and one of either history or geography, at my school twenty years ago. That still left two/ three free choices so you could pick art etc if you wished to ( I chose economics, German, and geology).

How do you know it's not going to happen Talkingpeace ?? I hope you're right.

I do agree that something needed doing, but I just think this is so unfair to a large group of pupils.

senua Wed 21-Nov-12 21:08:19

It seems to be setting less able children up to fail, right ??

Yes. We should only have exams that everyone can pass.

Of course i didn't mean that Senua, don't be so ridiculous.

Some children do better with coursework, or during practical assessments and some are better in an exam environment. The current system uses all of those things and so everyone has a fair chance then imo.

Is drama a separate subject now? It used to be taught as part of English.

ReallyTired Wed 21-Nov-12 21:25:45

I think the English Bac is a good idea in principle. GCSEs were designed for a different era when most people left school at 16 and there was no internet cheating. Our children will be at school until 18

Our children need a rigorous challenge to compete with the best from India, Singapore and China. We have to up our gain.

It would be better for less able children to take the English Bac when they are ready, prehaps in the sixth form alongside a vocational qualification. Recongising that someone needs a little longer to reach an academic level is not setting up for failure. The lower grades of GCSE aren't worth the paper they are written on. It is the present GCSE system that sets up lower ablity children for failure as an E in English is worthless.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 21-Nov-12 21:40:52

Holy crap you guys have NO idea about the two thirds of society that does not darken the doors of selective or private schools.

There are kids at DCs school who will struggle to get a C in English, a C in maths, a C in single science and only really enjoy their BTec in car repairs

WTF is the point of talking about India, Singapore and China - do you go there to get your car mended, your hair cut or your drains unblocked?

The education system has to cater for EVERYBODY
Gove forgets that
as do the toffs in government and the opposition

chloe74 Wed 21-Nov-12 21:56:37

There seem to be a lot of left wing parents here just hating reform because of who is making it. You cant go through life telling everyone they have passed, when 1/5 of children need remedial help in Maths and English as soon as they get a job. The facts are that for the past decade our education system has failed our country. The only way it will recover is by being honest and testing children properly. Of course some of them wont get a C, that's because they cant read and write. On what planet does lying to them help?

This is a great idea and should help ALL of society. Lets also remember all the subjects will not be compulsory and kids can still do drama, RE, Arts etc

TalkinPeace2 Wed 21-Nov-12 22:00:01

when 1/5 of children need remedial help in Maths and English as soon as they get a job
source please

drama, RE, Arts etc
will not get bricks laid on new houses .....

MN yummy mummies seem to think that the whole world revolves around office jobs. It doesn't.

noblegiraffe Wed 21-Nov-12 22:06:24

The OP needs to clarify whether they are referring to the new exams that no one knows anything about that the current Y7 will be sitting in a few years time.

Or the badge that kids get if they sit a certain contentious selection of subjects which seems quite odd given that they already have the exam certificates to prove that they took them.

ReallyTired Wed 21-Nov-12 22:09:43

There is no point in giving a certificate to everyone. Your car mechanic will need to have basic maths and be literate. He will have to have some understanding of science to service modern cars.

No one is saying that there should not be vocational courses and there is no reason why some should not do their BTEC in car repairs alongside their EBAC.

I have to admit I am not sure why a humanity and a foreign language has been included in the EBAC. I suppose it about making a person tolerant and open minded. Modern languages, geography and history do give some insight into other cultures. I would prefer it if someone could have a non european modern language in their EBAC or prehaps religous education as a humanity.

"WTF is the point of talking about India, Singapore and China - do you go there to get your car mended, your hair cut or your drains unblocked?"

Immigrants certainly come to the UK and apply for British jobs. There are lots of Polish hair dressers, car mechanics and plumbers.

EvilTwins Wed 21-Nov-12 22:13:50

If it's the new exams, then my main concern is the total lack of alternative. It's an EBC in English or nothing. Where does that leave kids not capable of passing the new exam? There is no way that anyone should accept the concept of children leaving school with no qualifications in anything at all.

I teach Performing Arts at both BTEC and GCSE. The Level 2 BTEC involves about 5 times as much work as the GCSE, yet the general public view a GCSE A grade as far more valuable than a BTEC Distinction.

ravenAK Wed 21-Nov-12 22:20:35

Agree with lurcherlover - another secondary English teacher here.

It's a sensible option set for academic dc, & certainly I'd discourage my own kids from binning MFL or Humanities altogether before 16, but it doesn't merit further privileging academic students with a special badge.

Fortunately, about the only thing that I have in common with Gove is that my dc are young, so it is to be hoped that the poisonous little twerp is long out of office & ruining something other than education by the time they start secondary.

HappyTurquoise Wed 21-Nov-12 22:24:17

No arts subjects, which excludes a lot of creative people, and discourages people with artistic talent.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 21-Nov-12 22:24:55

I have clients who earn around £40k a year without being able to read or write other than their own name.
You have very little understanding of 'trades'
and Poles coming here is NOT what you implied in your earlier post about competing on an international level.

Manicurists and hairdressers do not need an EBAC in any form - they just need to be able to manicure while making small talk with people who spend in a day what they earn in a month.

cricketballs Wed 21-Nov-12 22:43:38

fully agree with Talkin - Eviltwins I just wish that the general public would get their heads out of the DM and MN and realise that BTECs are not the easy option!

My year 11 group who began the BTEC last year are completing this whilst I am having to race them through the GCSE as SLT are nervous in other words think BTEC will fail an Ofsted/league tables despite the BTEC being their decision in the first place and they are laughing at the knowledge required for GCSE compared to the amount of work they are doing for the BTEC.

In fact, the first lesson in September I gave them the summers paper without any warning and told them to complete it - I have ended up telling them to 'dumb down' their answers on the paper as they were bringing in so many factors in the extended writing questions that the marking scheme just didn't envisage.

I will openly admit that pass level, whilst still requiring a lot of coursework to complete is not that difficult; to achieve Merit or higher though does require a lot of work, analysis, evaluation and independent research that goes far beyond the norms of GCSE A* standard.

chloe74 Wed 21-Nov-12 23:09:08

John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said on 19th November 2012 that "employers were being forced to provide remedial tuition in the three-Rs to as many as one-in-five new recruits – including those with good GCSE grades – because pupils have been “failed by the system”.

noblegiraffe Wed 21-Nov-12 23:32:22

This article says that the one in five figure refers to one employer needing to offer remedial numeracy training.

The problem with maths GCSE is that it is not a numeracy qualification. A good dose of algebra, an ability to interpret statistics, a knowledge of geometry and the lack of numeracy skills can be compensated for in order to gain a pass. Gove has so far dragged his heels over introducing the double maths GCSE, one on the 'basics' that employers want and one on the more abstract stuff, even though it was recommended by the Tory commissioned Carol Vorderman Maths report, possibly because the twin pair pilot was started by Labour.

There was also a functional maths qualification separate to GCSE which would have been ideal which was piloted about 5 years ago, but was scrapped the year it was supposed to become compulsory, (by Labour) the suspicion being because too many students failed it. Although functional maths is now an element of maths GCSE, as mentioned above, failure in those questions can be compensated for by good knowledge in other areas and a C still gained.

I'll agree that maths GCSE is not fit for purpose - but I am not convinced that Gove's plans are going to serve the bottom end well (especially if he, as planned, scraps tiered exam papers).

sashh Thu 22-Nov-12 05:15:30

I have 10 O Levels. Had the ebac existed I would have failed it.

I'm dyslexic and find it hard enough to spell in English let alone French.

At options evening I was noted as capable of O Level in every subject except French. I did not want to do CSE French, I wold not pass, so I did Art in my own time instead.

Ebac discriminates so much against anyone with dyslexia or anyone who struggles with a foreign language such as someone with a speach defect or anyone who is deaf.

It is stifilingly narrow, it only allows history and geography as humanities. Why not sociology, economics or phylosophy.

Why no art subject? Why no creative subject? Are specialist ballet and music schools going to plumet down the tables because their students spend hours learing things that 'don't count'?

Why is nothing outside school counted? Surely there could be some credit for playing sport or voluntry work.

Decemberinthesun Thu 22-Nov-12 05:45:13

"Our children need a rigorous challenge to compete with the best from India, Singapore and China. We have to up our gain".

Actually I totally agree with ReallyTired. I am currently living abroad and my children are at school with children from Singapore, India and China. Their attitude to school and learning is very different to what you see in the UK now. You may ask what this has to do with the average job in the UK but it will have a lot to do with it in the future. If their workforces become more attractive to companies e.g. better educated workforce at lower costs than the UK then they will outsource or set up there. I worked in HR, responsible for manpower, in the UK and throughout Asia and I can tell you that companies want the brightest staff at the lowest cost. Just try and get a job in IT now in London. You would be really hard pushed to get an entry level position as a Graduate as there are thousands of other nationalities willing to do those jobs for half the money. It really, really scares me that other nationalities are prepared to put their everything into their kids education and we as a nation seem to be pussyfooting around making sure no ones feelings are hurt. We will be returning to the UK in 2 years and I personally will be looking for an independent school who is going to push my child academically. Once upon a time you would go for a job and there would be a couple of hundred other Brits going after it. In the future (even now) that job you want will have people all over the world applying for it.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 08:09:29

Just try and get a job in IT now in London. You would be really hard pushed to get an entry level position as a Graduate as there are thousands of other nationalities willing to do those jobs for half the money.

Well, the reality is exactly the opposite. My company is trying to hire developers for some time - at the moment we have 5 positions to fill in (do you know anyone with Ruby on rails? Drop me a message, please). "Thousands of nationalities ready to work for peanuts" fall into two categories - either they non-EU and have no right to work in the UK, or they are EU and have the same salary requirements as locals.

ReallyTired Thu 22-Nov-12 09:44:58

"Ebac discriminates so much against anyone with dyslexia or anyone who struggles with a foreign language such as someone with a speach defect or anyone who is deaf."

Sadly exams do discrimate against people. It is a cruel world. Prehaps BSL level 2 should count as a foreign language for the EBac. I don't think the EBac is perfect. I would like a greater choice as to what counts as a humanity. Children need to think at a far higher level than in the past.

I think the difference between signapore, India and China is that they don't make excuses. They push their children very hard because they know that specific learning difficulties can be over come by sheer hard work. They have a growth mindset and believe that anything is possible with hard work. They are less obcessed by innate ablity than we are.

noblegiraffe Thu 22-Nov-12 10:36:36

I think the main difference in India etc is that the parents push the kids far harder to get a good education. There is a culture where education is valued. Here everything is put on schools and teachers and yet schools and teachers aren't respected.

crazymum53 Thu 22-Nov-12 11:32:12

There are problems with the current EBacc as there are other humanities other than History or Geography such as Religious Studies or Economics which should be included. If you look at the options for the IB which is equivalent to a level then there is a much greater choice for the humanities option. Also if students with an aptitude for languages study 2 MFL e.g. German and French but not History or Geography then they don't get an EBacc qualification either.

It isn't just hard work that makes students results from countries such as Singapore and China look impressive but their system of learning. They are very good at learning by rote and can often memorise large amounts of information accurately. But ask them to apply that knowledge and think for themselves and they cannot do this. Have found this from experience of working with overseas students from these countries doing UK A levels.

crazymum53 Thu 22-Nov-12 11:32:35

There are problems with the current EBacc as there are other humanities other than History or Geography such as Religious Studies or Economics which should be included. If you look at the options for the IB which is equivalent to a level then there is a much greater choice for the humanities option. Also if students with an aptitude for languages study 2 MFL e.g. German and French but not History or Geography then they don't get an EBacc qualification either.

It isn't just hard work that makes students results from countries such as Singapore and China look impressive but their system of learning. They are very good at learning by rote and can often memorise large amounts of information accurately. But ask them to apply that knowledge and think for themselves and they cannot do this. Have found this from experience of working with overseas students from these countries doing UK A levels.

confusedperson Thu 22-Nov-12 11:41:24

I love the idea of EBacc. Everyone should have good background of those core subjects. Nobody is saying you cannot study other subjects, but I really think by Ebacc we are only moving (up) closer to the world standard.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 22-Nov-12 11:42:50

What "world standard" is that?

chloe74 Thu 22-Nov-12 11:46:33

Its all very well being able to apply knowledge but you have to have knowledge first. Teaching the five core areas should help thoroughly learn that knowledge so they will then be able to practice applying it.

I don't think we have a system where schools push children to the levels they do in other countries. A lot of time at school seems to be wasted on 'fringe' areas and getting low attaining children through exams so we can pretend they have succeeded. The new system is voluntary so less academic students will still be able to learn subjects more appropriate to them to a higher level. And more students will finally have a chance to excel.

noblegiraffe Thu 22-Nov-12 11:54:16

What do you mean, Chloe, the new system is voluntary? Education will still be compulsory.

Time wasted on getting low attaining students qualifications? I'm sure you didn't mean that writing them off completely and concentrating on the bright kids is a good idea, but it certainly sounded like it.

Decemberinthesun Thu 22-Nov-12 12:02:32

I think that is changing TBH crazy mum. I have lived in Singapore twice and the place is completely different from 10 years ago. The government are really trying to change the way their children learn. Also things like you would never find Singaporeans doing sports and going out much socially. 10 years later they are all into marathons and triathlons and the club and bar scene has really taken off. Fast forward 20 years, when my children will be in their early careers and I doubt very much we will still be saying that these people are academic but cannot think outside the box. My children are in the IB system. When I come back to the UK I will look for and hopefully find a school that gives both A Level and IB as an option in 6th form and my children can choose which is best based on their strengths.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 22-Nov-12 12:28:19

How does the IB prepare people for applied engineering degrees (the ones who are doing Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A level) ?

Other countries may be dominant in manufacturing, but the top design engineers in most fields around the world are British
our system may have its faults but is very good at turning out analytical thinkers

hoodoo12345 Thu 22-Nov-12 12:43:52

Very concerned how this is going to affect the future of my DD, the UK's year 7's are a huge bunch of guinea pigs.
It stinksangry

ReallyTired Thu 22-Nov-12 12:54:22

"It isn't just hard work that makes students results from countries such as Singapore and China look impressive but their system of learning. They are very good at learning by rote and can often memorise large amounts of information accurately. But ask them to apply that knowledge and think for themselves and they cannot do this. Have found this from experience of working with overseas students from these countries doing UK A levels. "

That is anedotal. There are lots of indian software developers who certainly are creative and can think for themselves. I think the accusation that Chinese, Indian, (or any other Asian country) people cannot think creatively is a mixture of jelously and racism.

For many years the UK curriculum has been far too content light. Many GCSE science exams have been more like English comprehension than learning difficult science. Mathematical equations have been removed from Physics exams and questions have become descriptive. There has to be balance between developing skills and learning facts.

English education is going to have a difficult period as no one know quite what is planned. However reform of the national curriuclum is desperately over due.

chloe74 Thu 22-Nov-12 15:04:51

I don't see how any children will be used as guinea pigs, they will get a better education than the year group before them and whilst the exams will be new everyone in the country will be in the same boat so they will still have equal access to university.

What would be terrible for Y7 is if they still did the waste of space GCSE we currently have.

crazymum53 Thu 22-Nov-12 15:17:49

The IB involves taking more subjects beyond GCSE and students have to study Maths and at least one Science subject (often 2 or more). 5 or 6 subjects altogether. There is also an additional Maths option so yes IB students can still take engineering, but as they have an MFL as well they may be better equipped to work in an international market place.

My earlier comments are not anecdotal they are based on real life experience of teaching these students straight after their O levels. O levels themselves are more content heavy and memory based than GCSEs is the main point that I am trying to make rather than comments about people of a specific nationality.

prettybird Thu 22-Nov-12 15:58:20

Just being pedantic - but it is not the UK's Y7s.

Scotland has a totally different education system. Having said that, the revamping that the 3-18 Curriculum for Excellence has brought in means that we don't really know the exams our kids will be taking as they're making it up as they go along! hmm The current S3s (=Y9s) started S1 (Y7) not knowing what exams or the structure they would taken in S4 when Standard grades were to be replaced.

ReallyTired Thu 22-Nov-12 16:58:31

"My earlier comments are not anecdotal they are based on real life experience of teaching these students straight after their O levels. O levels themselves are more content heavy and memory based than GCSEs is the main point that I am trying to make rather than comments about people of a specific nationality. "

It is scary that you don't realise you are making an anedote and you are a teacher.

What proper research evidence other than the experience of one teacher do you have that Chinese, Singapore or Indian lack the ablity to apply knowledge and think for themselves? Plenty of English people also lack the ablity to think for themselves as well.

As far as I know there is no research to compare the problem solving skills of various sixteen year olds around the world. I doult that British teens are that brilliant at thinking skills otherwise we would not have so many NEETS.

chloe74 Thu 22-Nov-12 20:17:40

Why do children need to know what sort of exam they will be doing. Teach them properly and they will be able to deal with any questions (to the level of their ability). The only reason to know the exact format of the paper etc is so that you can teach to the test ... Something we want to get rid of.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 22-Nov-12 20:19:35

to the level of their ability
have you ever been to a non selective state school?
Do you know how UNBELIEVABLY HARD that single item is to ascertain.

noblegiraffe Thu 22-Nov-12 20:43:12

Teach them what, properly? If you don't know what the exam is, then you won't have a specification and you'll have no idea whether to teach them Hitler or the Romans. And I don't expect that schools will be finding out till the last minute either, so any schemes of work will be rushed through, resources scarce and teachers harassed.

GCSEs were thoroughly tested and piloted before they were unleashed on the general population. Gove doesn't think that his new exams even need a test sitting to iron out any problems before they are used to determine the future of thousands of children.

And Chloe, suggesting that it doesn't matter being in the first cohort because they will all have equal access to university is ridiculously short-sighted. Exams at 16 are for everyone, not just for those going onto university in a particular year. When those children are applying for jobs in ten years' time, do you think they can put on ther CV 'excuse the shit grades in Maths and English, that was due to the EBC debacle, I'm better than they look, honest.' while those who are younger have better grades simply because the system has had time to bed down?

TalkinPeace2 Thu 22-Nov-12 20:49:44

Or as DH says when schools book him
You may have taught year 4 lots of times
but each child gets only one shot at it.

HOW DARE Gove bugger up the chances of a whole cohort of children with no empirical evidence to support his whims.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 20:50:52

you guys have NO idea about the two thirds of society

I am not convinced that Gove's plans are going to serve the bottom end well

In my borough, where my child goes to a comprehensive school with exam stats below national average, 40% of children are from families where nobody works. Ok, I am living not in best place. In the scale of the country it is 18% of working-age households where nobody works.

So, my question is - do we need to tailor the educational system to people who will not work or to people who will?

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 20:58:29

I think the difference between signapore, India and China is that they don't make excuses.

ReallyTired, are you sure that you compare like with like, not Chinese showreel with UK's backstage? Isn't there a filter of representation - we see only the brightest children of 1-billion strong nation and compare them to ordinary ones of 62-million?

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 20:58:34

The education system should serve EVERYONE. It shouldn't be a case of catering for the top end OR catering for the bottom end. We need exams which are tiered, so that students get to show what they DO know. Yes, the exams need to be rigorous, but there is no reason that any child should leave school with nothing.

IMO, the GCSE system needs overhauling, but not scrapping. The current vocational qualifications need better marketing, for want of a better word.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 22-Nov-12 20:58:41

We need a flexible spread of education that allows the bright to achieve (further papers, IGCSEs) and stops the less bright and the indigent from just walking away from education (BTecs and foundation papers)

We are still suffering from the effects of Maggies 'Lost Generation' (well documented) and their children.
Cameroon will hopefully curb Gove before he goes too far down that route.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 21:07:00

Talking, I was under impression that you were in favour of BTecs in car repairs.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 21:12:14

EvilTwins, you are for tiers, and TalkinPeace is against foundation papers. So how can you have tiers without teaching something foundation/basic/inferior to those who will never need anything?

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 21:12:23

MsA, there is nothing wrong with BTECs. In a number of subject areas, they are, IMO, a more appropriate type of qualification. I teach both BTEC and GCSE in my subject, and the BTEC involves about 5 times the amount of work. Just because there is no exam, it doesn't mean the qualification is worthless.

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 21:18:16

MsA, I'm not sure I understand the question. Personally, I think tiered exam papers are a good thing in core subjects, where most schools have sets anyway, so you don't get a case of higher tier students having to do foundation level work. Is that what you mean? But everyone has to cover the basics at some point...

TalkinPeace2 Thu 22-Nov-12 21:19:15

You need to reread what I said.
Btecs and foundation papers are essential for keeping low achievers in education at least until they are literate and ready to work.

One of my clients digs holes for a living - his only qualification is a strong back and no sense of the cold.
BUT he is getting his kids to try for 5 GCSEs - education must be inclusive to reduce crime.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 21:29:38

We need a flexible spread of education that [...] stops the less bright and the indigent from just walking away from education (BTecs and foundation papers)

Ok, sorry, I understood that BTecs were were mentioned as an example of "walking away".

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 21:34:06

So, don't you think that compulsory "one of each" would guarantee that all the children are well exposed to the different routes before they start digging wholes for the living?

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 21:34:49

Do you even know what BTECs are? Student go ton university on the strength of Level 3 BTECs. confused

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 21:40:50

Well, I can not read minds - for some people (on this forum as well) BTECs may mean "no education".

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 21:47:01

angry The level of ignorance in that post is staggering.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 21:54:22

I never tried to disguise the fact that I learnt English after 30yo, and know very little about life here. It is exactly why I am participating in this forum. If you are red unhappy about that, I can not do anything for you.

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 21:56:15

I am angry that you think BTEC = no education.

ReallyTired Thu 22-Nov-12 22:06:41

If BTECs are to carry any respect then they need to be available to all levels of ablity. I think that vocational qualifications need reform as well as GCSEs so that they are comparable difficulty.

I feel that EVERYONE needs Maths and English to a good standard. I believe that the current BTEC qualifications often include maths, english and possibly science already. Surely the maths and english could examined seperately from the car maintaince/ plumbing/ childcare.

14 years old is too young to stop academic study. Studying a couple of GCSEs alongside a vocational qualification keeps options open.

As far as I know most people with BTECs do not dig holes for living. People who are good with the hands are often good with their brains as well.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 22:06:58

You have to admit that it was not clear from the original message, to which part of the sentence the content of the brackets was referring to. That's why I asked Talking about their attitude to btec.

Back to the topic - do you really think that "one of each" will harm less capable children?

Being new in the country, I was pissed off when the school made my DD drop MFL and History after the age of 14 ("because you can not take everything to GCSE" - yes, you can, the child needs to have a bite from each subject).

Viviennemary Thu 22-Nov-12 22:10:23

A lot of people who have BTECS as an entry qualification to University struggle on the degree courses. Likewise people who have done Access courses. Even more so.

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 22:14:41

When you say that you think BTECs currently include English & Maths, do you mean as discrete subjects? Not as far as I know, though yes to Applied Science.

BTECs are available at all levels. Level 3 BTEC is the same level as an A Level, and a Level 3 Distinction carries the same number of UCAS points as an A2 grade A. IMO, BTECs are not appropriate for all subjects by any means, but the Level 3 I teach is by far a better way of assessing the subject I teach than an A Level. It includes far more work, far more appropriate work, and prepares students for continued study in that subject.

What BTECs need is better understanding from those not in education, and a foolproof system of quality review within centres to stamp out any potential misuse.

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 22:16:11

vm- I think it depends on the subject and course. As with a lot of things, students need appropriate advice.

noblegiraffe Thu 22-Nov-12 22:23:33

Reallytired, I'm a bit confused by your post about maths and English GCSE. It is virtually unheard of for kids not to sit these.

Kids who study BTEC courses do study GCSEs alongside them. I've taught kids who've got a B in maths GCSE and a car repair or hairdressing qualification. Are you confused about how these vocational subjects actually work? It's not an either or situation.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 22:23:40

And how that is related to Gove with his Ebacc?

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 22:26:04

The previous mgs was to EvilTwins. Basically, the same question as above - whether promotion of BTECs is contradictory to Ebacc?

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 22:27:25

BTECs do not count in the EBacc. But that doesn't make them worthless.

noblegiraffe Thu 22-Nov-12 22:32:39

It depends whether you are talking current Ebacc or future Ebacc, what that will be replacing, what will happen to the subjects that are not replaced, and what will happen to the kids who are unable to access a qualification that's only aimed at 4/5 of students.

There was a suggestion that they would leave school with nothing except a certificate to say they'd been to school. So no BTECs.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 22:40:20

In my times and in my country of origin there was a compulsory equivalent of a chosen BTEC (not as well devised as modern BTECs here) alongside compulsory equivalent of Ebacc. I do not see anything wrong with such system, and do not think this Gove's initiative is as moronic as his usual ones.

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 22:48:26

What would happen? Nothing would happen, he can not cancel teaching working professions.

EduCrazy Thu 22-Nov-12 22:50:38

I was totally against the scrapping of course work say for GCSE's as not every child is good at exams. Some who are less able to manage their fears, for example, could freak out on the day, which didn't necessarily mean they didn't know their stuff.

My views changed, however, when a report came out a couple of weeks ago which showed, Ethnic Minorities were given lower grades when their work was assessed by their teachers, with the same papers given higher scores when marked externally. Conversely, the study found that the marks of the White children were inflated.

I'm sure I don't have to spell out the long term problem with all this. At the very least we can see why the current system is in definite need of an overhaul.

ReallyTired Thu 22-Nov-12 23:04:19

"My views changed, however, when a report came out a couple of weeks ago which showed, Ethnic Minorities were given lower grades when their work was assessed by their teachers, with the same papers given higher scores when marked externally. Conversely, the study found that the marks of the White children were inflated."

That is appauling. I also think that children with low scores in Cognitive ablity tests might have their work undermarked. Certainly the perception that a child might be bright or stupid can affect teacher assessment.

At least externally marked exams are not racist from a marking point of view. I think we need to look at ways of kicking instutional racism out of schools as a matter of priority.

lurcherlover Thu 22-Nov-12 23:07:29

This is crazy. All coursework is externally moderated by the exam board. If the marking is inaccurate, they're to blame.

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 23:13:01

Exactly. To claim that coursework should be scrapped because it's racist it ridiculous. Do you have any evidence?

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 23:14:08

I thought teachers are specifically trained to control their natural moves to promote "likable" children. Is it not the case?

EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 23:15:47

I don't remember that bit in my training... I think it's called being professional though wink

lurcherlover Thu 22-Nov-12 23:19:41

This thread is eye-opening to say the least about what the public thinks of teachers...the markers of external exams are teachers too y'know, and the candidates' names are on the papers. What's to stop us being nasty racists and marking down the ethnic minority students?

Good job I've had all that training to remind me not to be racist or to give my favourite pupils the best marks [sceptical]

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 23:26:01

So, the teachers remain being unprofessional after [http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2006/11/16/gender-bias-in-the-classroom-do-teachers-give-boys-more-attention/ all the findings of gender studies]? Nothing was changed in their training, they were unprepared to this natural challenge and nobody helps them?

MsAverage Thu 22-Nov-12 23:26:59
EvilTwins Thu 22-Nov-12 23:28:39

hmm An American blog from 2006. Not terribly convincing "evidence".

cricketballs Thu 22-Nov-12 23:57:50

Viviennemary A lot of people who have BTECS as an entry qualification to University struggle on the degree courses. Likewise people who have done Access courses. Even more so Where is your evidence/sources for this statement?

I didn't struggle on my degree course despite undertaking my degree at the same time as doing 2 A levels and raising children at the same time!

If you read my earlier post regarding BTECs they are a lot more vigorous at the higher grades than the general public are aware of mainly because they either read the DM or too much MN As they are in their nature vocational they actually teach the students to look at the scenario/question/context rather than just relying on theory alone.

My current year 11 students who are being raced through a GCSE whilst completing their BTEC (because of all this nonsense) have laughed at the knowledge and work required to gain a GCSE in my subject.
They already have the exam technique down to a fine art as they are used to looking at the scenario and applying the theory they have learnt rather than just relying on fact regurgitation (which exam boards state is a reason for lower grades).

I fully agree with an earlier poster who promoted all students having to undertake a vocational qualification along side with the academic subjects - that way every student has the same experiences and chances no matter their ability to discover their talents, strengths and ambitions for their future

chloe74 Fri 23-Nov-12 00:14:43

Why is there so much chatter about BTEC's, but the new changes have no affect on them? I also thought MN was supposed to be apolitical but there are so many left wing fundamentalists on here that it might as well be a Union. Are they all teachers?

When clever people try to make things better, there are so many teachers trying to make it fail that it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Why don't you all grow up and behind the reform to make it work!

sashh Fri 23-Nov-12 06:48:24

Sadly exams do discrimate against people. It is a cruel world. Prehaps BSL level 2 should count as a foreign language for the EBac.

Signature and one of the deaf schools are developing GCSE BSL, but it won't count for the ebac.

Btecs and foundation papers are essential for keeping low achievers in education at least until they are literate and ready to work.

BTEC goes up to and includes HND - a first year of a degree course.

I have taught Level 3 Health and Social care and IMHO it is a far better introduction to something like nursing than A Levels.

During the course the students have to undertake some independent research and have to use Harvard referencing for all assignments. They underrtake an unpaid placement, so know the realities of wiping a shitty bum.

They learn about infection control and are assessed on hand washing.

All things that are usefull both at uni and in their future careers.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 07:13:36

When clever people try to make things better

<snort> You mean when politicians announce in the tabloid media wide-ranging changes to education which will affect thousands of people without any evidence that it will be better, with no pilots to attempt to collect evidence and with reservations being expressed by a huge number of people not least members of their own government, it will, of course, be the fault of teachers if it is a bit shit. hmm

MsAverage Fri 23-Nov-12 08:19:00

EvilTwins, there is no reason to think that American teachers are worse than teachers anywhere else. And if you have never heard of any action addressing the issue, it merely means that the issue is not addressed.

EvilTwins Fri 23-Nov-12 08:34:28

You miss my point... Old American research is simply not relevant. The American school system is very different to ours.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 08:39:19

If you're worried about gender bias against girls in education you should be really concerned about the scrapping of coursework by Gove. That style of assessment tends to suit girls more than boys.

I love how on the one hand education is sexist because of female teachers, lesson styles favouring girls' tendency to sit still and listen, lack of competition, coursework etc and on the other hand it's also sexist because teachers favour boys in the classroom. I'm so confused about which sex I'm supposed to be biased against today.

ReallyTired Fri 23-Nov-12 09:55:40

There are thousands of teachers across the country. I doult that they all have the same prejudices. Infact I bet that at least 95 to 99% of teachers are highly professional and do their best to be fair.

However teachers are human and like the rest of us are prone to society's prejudices on a sub concious level.

EduCrazy Fri 23-Nov-12 09:58:27

EvilTwins: Re: Children from Ethnic Minority Groups unfairly marked down.

It came up in Ofquals, the qualifications watchdog, report which was conducted as a result of the recent GCSE's fiasco. Was all over the news too and covered on LBC etc. Not sure how you missed it.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 11:10:05

Well I've just searched on google and can't find this evidence. I've found a couple of news reports that say Michael Gove says that ethnic minorities were marked down (while simultaneously everyone else was marked too generously, one wonders why exam boards bother with moderation when they are so obviously poor at it), but nothing to back it up.

Anyone got this evidence to hand?

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 11:15:51

Incidentally, when my school did maths coursework back in the days before it was scrapped, teachers didn't mark it at all, we sent it all off to the exam boards for marking as we did with exams.

Not sure why the solution to problems with teachers marking controlled assessments would be to scrap them, instead of simply to mark them externally. Unpopular with the exam boards due to cost, I expect. Get the teachers to do it for free, then moan that teachers are apparently biased in favour of getting their students good grades.

EduCrazy Fri 23-Nov-12 14:59:22

Perhaps you don't want to find it.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 16:17:36

Eh? If I didn't want to find it I wouldn't have looked for it! Like I said, all I could find was references to Gove claiming it had happened. All the news reports when the Ofqual report came out simply reported that apparently teachers marked too generously. If the Ofqual report said teachers were racist, no one apart from Gove seems to have picked up on it. From what I could see.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 16:19:21

That's not to say its not out there, which is why I asked if anyone had it.

chloe74 Fri 23-Nov-12 16:44:41

Given the option of believing a teachers speculation that a more rigorous exam system is just a punt in the dark and Michael Gove Secretary of State for Education backed by civil servants with access to educational experts haven't researched the reforms they are making is just pure nonsense. I don't see why an elected representative of the county has to prove himself to teachers, they are paid to teach not create the education system.

Reintroducing Charles Dickens and Jane Austin to English lessons. Insisting children write coherently and grammatically with correct spelling. Teaching 'British' history in lessons. A knowledge of the basic scientific principles like Kelvin's laws of thermodynamics and Newton's laws of motion. Its all common sense, why are so many teachers against it, what are they afraid of?

A MFL is essential for globalization, the evidence for that from other countries is overwhelming and its actually quite arrogant to say the rest of the world should speak English because we are to stupid to learn other languages. More assessment of teacher training applicants with tests of character and emotional intelligence. Trainee teachers spending more time in the classroom. Guidance on when to search pupils and when to use force. A single exam board for all exams. Being allowed to sack teachers for being in the BNP.

You cant argue about any of these improvements. This are proof that we finally have someone making our system better. And on the other hand we have teachers claiming its wrong because he hasn't proved it to us. I know where I put my faith.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 16:48:07

where is your evidence that the new exam will be more rigorous
Gove certainly has none.
And knowing Newton is a triviality in applied science. Understanding Feynman diagrams is where its at now. (you do know what they are don't you?)

lurcherlover Fri 23-Nov-12 16:56:24

chloe, your post rather proves your ignorance. I'm a state school English teacher. My year 8s are reading Great Expectations, year 9 are doing Animal Farm, year 10 Lord of the Flies and year 11s To Kill a Mockingbird. They've also done Wuthering Heights and in previous years Pride and Prejudice. All years do a Shakespeare play. Is that academic enough for you? Where on earth did you get the impression that Dickens and Austen aren't currently taught and need to be "re-introduced" to schools? Not the DM, I hope...

EvilTwins Fri 23-Nov-12 16:59:16

Chloe are you Sarah Vine? Can't imagine anyone else would have such charming faith in the man when he's clearly a buffoon.

OK, joking aside, yes, the system needs shaking up. My main issue with Gove's "improvements" is the lack if solid information about them. How in earth is ANYONE to make an informed decision when so few details have been released. No exam board has been created, no spec has bed released. You have no idea, Chloe, whether Austen and Dickens are there, because no syllabus has been written. Your assertions that it WILL be better are no more based on evidence than my feeling that it's a crock of shite. Until I see actual details, I will continue to assume that Gove is a teacher-hating tosser, with no idea what actually goes on in a state school.

ravenAK Fri 23-Nov-12 17:07:35

When did Mr Dickens & Ms Austin(sic) leave the building?

I've been using Oliver Twist with bottom set year 9 today - we're comparing it to a more modern novel on young homelessness, from which it's to be hoped they'll glean a few practical pointers if the Tories get back in in 2015.

I used Bleak House in my after school GCSE lesson on descriptive writing, & I'm treating myself & year 7 to A Christmas Carol next month.

Year 9 (top set this time) also study Northanger Abbey as a gothic pastiche. Comes in handy when we do Henry James alongside Susan Hill in year 10.

& if you have a look at the level descriptors for KS3 English, you'll see for yourself the emphasis on 'Insisting children write coherently and grammatically with correct spelling'.

Honestly, the NC & exam specifications are freely available online. No excuse for this level of ignorance, chloe74 - although your own education may not have been all that if you were born in '74, to be fair. I attended grammar school in the '80s & the comprehensive I teach in now is quite a bit more exacting in its standards.

chloe74 Fri 23-Nov-12 17:08:37

My evidence that the exam will be more rigorous comes for the mouth of the Secretary of State for Education. I am pretty sure he didn't say he was going to create an easier exam that more people will be able to pass. And did say "The new EBCs will be robust, rigorous and relevant - and will match exams in the world's best education systems." Where is your evidence he is lying?

I am also pretty sure that classical physical has relevance to every person and profession in the country. Certainly its an important stepping stone to be learnt before moving to the more detailed area of subatomic particles. I think you trying unsuccessfully to be facetious.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 17:08:57

Chloe, you seem to be mistaking a change in the curriculum (which teachers deal with what seems like every year and really isn't an issue) with valid concerns about a complete scrapping of the current exam system (which is being replaced by something as yet unknown but with vague messages about it being simultaneously more rigourous and yet also so broad that 80% of children will be expected to sit exactly the same exam) and about which many professionals (not just teachers, by the way) have expressed deep concerns.

chloe74 Fri 23-Nov-12 17:09:54

Typo: I am also pretty sure that classical physics has relevance to every person and profession in the country.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 17:11:58

you do not seem to understand how politics works.
Cameroon could have a reshuffle next week and all of a sudden Gove could be the worlds expert on Foreign affairs
and Ian Duncan Smith could be in charge of education.

Polticians generally know bugger all about anything except looking after themselves.
Civil servants and advisers do all the real work.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 17:14:05

I teach Newton's Laws of Motion at maths A-level. I can't say that my students are suddenly transformed into model citizens once they have mastered them.

squeezedatbothends Fri 23-Nov-12 17:36:30

Here's an interesting fact, and I say fact, not opinion! Every 10 years, the criteria for IQ tests have to be shifted upwards because children are getting smarter. To be average now, a child has to have 15 more points than a child in 1950 did. A child who passed the 11+ in 1960 would now be deemed to be below average and would not get a place. This has been part of a longitudinal study and is accepted by OECD and the IoE. This myth that education is getting worse, is just that, a myth. What has shifted is the nature of the work that the majority do - when 85% of people left school at 14 or 16 with no O levels, they were likely to walk into manual labour jobs. Being able to read, write or add up was good but wasn't really necessary so employers didn't need to intervene. This fiction that suddenly no-one can communicate is just that - fiction. More children are literate now that at any other time in our history.

80% of people nationally think that our schools are bad but only 15% of parents think their child's school is not good. There is a huge difference between our perception and our experience. But one thing is sure, the more we attack our teachers and undermine the achievements of our young, the more resentment we will breed. Fewer high quality graduates will be attracted to the profession and those who can will leave. We need to think very carefully about what kind of education system we create when we turn on each other and on the people we charge to care for and educate our children.

chloe74 Fri 23-Nov-12 17:38:30

This is where teachers ‘expertise’ falls down and they prove their ignorance. Your experience is only based on the children in your classes. What is needed is an understanding of the needs of millions of children. The two are very different. Just like there is a difference in comparing a page in a book and studying the whole book. Some schools obviously still use these authors but over the whole county many schools don't ‘study’ the pre-20th century classics, hence the need to reintroduce them.

I cant find any examples of Michael Gove being buffoon like. Plenty for real idiots like Prescott, Brown and Balls but certainly not for Gove. So I can only assume you are just expressing an ignorant political prejudice that has been indoctrinated into you from birth.

ET – Which came first the chicken or the egg? If all the specs had been created before consultation then teachers would be up in arms for not being consulted first. The fact that he is consulting first so he can use the information in creating the system is to his credit. You cant have it both ways!

Until Gove messes up I will continue to believe that he is an honest man making the system better.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 17:44:34

I was watching an episode of Yes Prime Minister last night. They were talking about how young people couldn't 'read, write or add up'. Yes Prime Minister was shot in 1986, the first sitting of GCSEs wasn't till 1988. Apparently the old system that everyone harks back to wasn't considered that great either.

EvilTwins Fri 23-Nov-12 17:46:30

Chloe, your faith in politicians is sweet. Misguided, but really quite charming. Here's something Gove has done to mess up- overspent on the academies programme to the tune of £££££££ meaning that education budgets will have to be slashed AGAIN. And that's just this week.

EvilTwins Fri 23-Nov-12 17:48:10

Oh, and the "expertise" you deride is, I imagine, a whole lot more experience than YOU have. Unless you've examined the set texts in all English schools, in which case, I apologise hmm

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 17:49:05

What about his disastrous Free Schools policy that has seen thousands spent on schools that have never opened, or have opened only to be mostly empty seeing as they've opened in areas that didn't need them?

lurcherlover Fri 23-Nov-12 17:52:50

chloe, I'm not just a teacher. I'm a senior examiner and moderator for the biggest exam board in the country. Therefore my "expertise" isn't confined to schools I have worked in. I see thousands of exam papers and controlled assessments every year from students all over the country. All of them, without exception, have studied academic texts, like those in my post above. I suggest you familiarise yourself with the content of the GCSE specifications in particular. You can find them online, together with exemplar exam material. I tell you unequivocally that what my students have to do now to get an A* (and therefore what all students have to do as these are national exams) is harder than the exams of 20 years ago. I have compared them, and believe me it is so.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 17:53:06

Gove's suggestion that taxpayers should buy a new yacht for the Queen?

The stupid King James Bible project, foreward written by M Gove?

His behaviour re Leveson?

Or idiotic assertion that all schools can be above average merely by trying a bit harder?

prettybird Fri 23-Nov-12 18:01:13

I remember my mum (who was a well-respected English teacher) once saying to me that the problem with teaching is that everyone is an expert as everyone has been to school. hmm

(A former pupil, who had just found me via fb after googling her and finding out she'd died recently said, "A teacher affects eternity, for they can never tell where their influence ends! And this was true of her." )

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 18:05:28

prettybird that is SO true.
Its one of the reasons DH decided not to stay in teaching - he does not have to deal with parents in his current work, just kids and their teachers :-)

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 18:09:28

Most really good physicists know that classical Newtonian physics has real limitations.

It's like anything really - if you start trying to sound like an expert about things you know nothing about then you make yourself look like an iodiot.

squeezedatbothends Fri 23-Nov-12 18:17:23

Chloe 74.

I spent the day with Dylan Wiliam, the man Michael Gove hired to advise on the overhaul of the curriculum. I'm not sure if you know who he is, but he considered to be the leading expert in the world on pupil assessment. This is what he had to say.

1 That all the evidence from over 3000 international studies suggests that Michael Gove's tinkering with the curriculum will make no difference to standards whatsoever.

2. That having spent a fortune on a consultation process with an expert panel, charged with looking at the international evidence over a two year period, when they finally published their advice, he ignored every single bit of it.

These two points suggest that Michael Gove is a buffoon.

ravenAK Fri 23-Nov-12 18:20:04

In agreement with lurcherlover. I'm also an examiner.

chloe74's statements like: 'Some schools obviously still use these authors but over the whole county many schools don't ‘study’ the pre-20th century classics, hence the need to reintroduce them' are simply untrue, as a very cursory look at the specifications would show.

I fell over our Gove bible the other day - HT has deployed it as a wedge for his office door.

ReallyTired Fri 23-Nov-12 18:36:41

squeezedatbothends, I don't believe that average intelligence has increased dramatically. What has got better is children's exam technique and short term recall.

However most children would struggle with an O-level or a CSE paper from the 1970s. In the 1950s the expectations for O-level were far tougher. Children had to do calculus in maths and Newton's laws of motion were in a 1950s physics O-level. In the past an exam paper was literally a piece of paper rather than a 23 page book. Children were forced to write in sentences and make their mathematical workings clear enough to be followed an examiner.

I wouldn't mind betting that a 2012 a-level biology student would fail an o-level paper. They would struggle to explain the structure of a kidney with a diagram because they cannot recall facts.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 18:46:51

IQ tests are an appalling measure anyway, because every single one of them has significant racial bias - Europeans score low in Indian tests and vice versa.

It is not really relevant to compare past and present exams.

Lamarckism has been discredited
but epigenetics has appeared from nowhere

climate change / the ozone hole - CFCs are history now

the speed of technological change is increasing exponentially - our children will most likely have jobs that did not exist when we were children

and the problem with the Idiot Gove is that he fervently believes (and its a religious rather than a reasoned viewpoint) that every child should sit exams like the ones he sat that let him get where he is today.
He has no concept that their time has passed and they were never suitable for all people.

The Ebacc was a political move
the EBC needs to be scrapped ASAP - as the changes already in train on GCSEs (the results of which will appear in August 2015 and not before)
will have much of the desired effect without the insanity of binning so much good practice.

squeezedatbothends Fri 23-Nov-12 18:47:20

Reallytired. You must be.

This isn't an argument but a fact published by the organisation that sets IQ tests - the IQ point average has risen by 15 points. That is a simple fact - not a question of belief. Why this has happened, we don't know.

Now where is your published evidence that pupils would struggle with a paper from the 1970s? Your points about content are irrelevant - of course anyone would struggle to pass a test containing information they had never been taught. And don't forget that only 15% of the population in 1950 actually sat an O level and many of them didn't pass.

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 19:18:10

If I was presented with a 2012 GCSE Core Science paper when I was 16 I would have failed it.

I knew nothing about Wegener's theory, why it was not taken seriously nor the evidence that now supports it. I also knew nothing about the formation of the earth's atmosphere (nor the age of the earth).

At A level I did not study the greenhouse effect of gases caused by absorption of IR radiation. Nor did I study NMR, IR, GC or the effect of CFCs on ozone.

The current curriculum is relevant.

Following changes to the GCSE science curriculum in 2011, it is also a lot more rigorously tested (a fact that is overlooked by all politicians).

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 19:25:42

You and I must be the same age. Wegener was heresy during my O level. Becoming proven during my A level and the paradigm by my degree (John Small, Study of Landforms was one of my lecturers!)

And yes, what DD in year 10 and DS in Year 8 are doing is radically different than what went on three years ago.
Friends who teach at PSC sixth form college are already being geared up for the new approach of their incoming students

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 19:47:32

smile TalkinPeace2.

Perhaps we should bring back the study of punched cards and the merging of tape stream files to the 'computer science' curriculum.....

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Fri 23-Nov-12 19:54:44

Even the current system doesn't fare well for those DC's on the C/D borderline.

Drop two marks, you get a 'D', employers rubbish the qualification you worked your socks off for.

Yet the school won't allow you to do vocational qualifications because they assume that your hard work will get you that 'C' without them putting anything extra in.

Then grade boundaries are changed and there's no chance of you getting that 'C' that you were predicted when the school told you to take 'traditional GCSE's'.

And they didn't have a suitable vocational program anyway...

And in some subjects, with the best will in the world, some DC's just WON'T get a grade higher than a 'G'.

My DD is working her socks off, doing practice every night, and she's just managing to get a mid-G prediction at this point in Y10 in Maths.

She has finally retained the majority of her times tables, except 6,7 and 8, despite daily practice from the age of 6yo. Eight years daily practice and she STILL can't get the last 3 to 'stick'.

What's your suggestion for her? She can use scales, a jug, a sugar thermometer and a calculator. What more does she need to work in a patisserie or a bakery?

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Fri 23-Nov-12 20:06:41

And, for the record, Gove is an odious buffoon.

noblegiraffe Fri 23-Nov-12 20:23:10

Children might have had to do calculus in maths at O-level, but so what? I could easily train a bright Y7 to differentiate or integrate a polynomial. It probably wasn't moved to A-level because it was too difficult, but because at that basic level, there wasn't much point. I just looked at an old O-level paper from the 60s and it didn't have any statistics on at all. Now statistics is much more useful and relevant to young people than being able to find the gradient of a curve at the point (2,3).

ravenAK Fri 23-Nov-12 20:49:30

I did calculus as additional lunchtime classes for those of my O-Level group who intended to go onto A-Level. I think there might have been an additional paper involved, but can't remember.

As it happened, my A-Level teacher was dire, & I went from A at O-Level to N at A-Level. Never did really get my head round calculus.

& then I got a University friend, doing Physics, to explain differentiation/integration to me on the back of an envelope one afternoon in the pub.

So I can agree with noblegiraffe that it's clearly not a particularly higher order skill, at the basic, mechanical level taught at O-Level, if I can grasp it!

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 21:19:00

I make my living with upside down spreadsheets
you tell me the tax bill and I work out the turnover and expenses - cannot see that in Gove's sheets
but then, he is Eng Lit obsesssed, rather than STEM

prettybird Fri 23-Nov-12 21:42:02

I remember liking exactly that about calculus when I was doing my Highers ravenAK : that it was actually quite simple algebra once you'd learned the "rules" and that as long as you were methodical, it was quite easy to get to the answer.

reminder to self: must re-learn those rules now that ds is in S1/Y7

chloe74 Fri 23-Nov-12 22:22:26

Its very easy for left wing teachers to proclaim the national curriculum but they are not teaching it. !!! The current GCSE’s are structured so you can pass an exam question on a literary classic with only having read the extract you already know you are going to be tested on. And exams boards tell schools what these are going to be. Isn't that why so many English students couldn't get a ‘C’ this year because they could only cope with the question they were expecting and weren't able to deal with the whole subject. A teacher even told me you are allowed to take a sheet of quotes from the book into the exam with you.

I admit a single exam wasn't the best solution for all but then if Gove didn't have to compromise with left wing liberals then we wouldn't have a problem. I think he has done the best he can with one hand tied behind his back.

TalkinPeace2 – Our Prime Minister is called David Cameron,
Cameroon is a country in west Africa. If you knew anything about politics you would know David Cameron believes in keeping Ministers in the same portfolio, so they can become experts in that area. And as you say they are part of a team of experts not just a random teacher pulled of the streets.

Bringing in more Grammar schools would have been political, exactly what is political about improving the failing GCSE system?

noblegiraffe - Newtonian Physics is crucial for everyone to learn not the cornerstone to modern cutting edge physics, or social development. Keep up. The GCSE system wasn't perfect and neither will its replacement be, but the question is will it be better. After the GCSE was introduced it was watered down every year with modules, course work, Grade inflation, teaching to the test, until we get to the stage where its so discredited that it has to be replaced entirely. Where were teachers standing up for standards then?

Gove’s suggestion that our head of state has a yacht was a great one and it wouldn't have cost the tax payers a single penny because after discussion it would have been funded 100% by private donations. I am a bit ashamed our country doesn’t provide our monarchy with a vessel appropriate to their status. What has all that got to do with education! Exactly what is wrong with an intelligent man defending free speech? And as for the Bible thing, well I disagree with it but having RE in schools is pretty stupid and until we disestablish the church its going to happen.

ET – It doesn't surprise me that a budget is overspent, the reason we are in this problem is because Brown not only spent to much money over a decade he have spent money he didn't even have and we will be suffering the fall out for years to come. It will be our children that suffers most.
I do not mean to deride the expertise teachers have, its certainly more than I have, but it does not make them experts on the whole education system. We have a department of Education for that, so it is entirely logical for me to take their words over teachers.

lurchlover – are you one of the examiners that failed to keep standards high and continually allowed grade inflation to destroy our system? Were you party to the system of telling schools what questions pupils were going to be asked in their exams?

squeezedatbothends – you never explained why consulting an expert makes you a buffoon, in most peoples opinion its exactly the right thing to do before you create a new system. So it shows Gove is doing a very good job.

ravenAK – Glad to hear the bible is being used for something worthy of its content

I think what really gets parents backs up is when you have evidence in front of you that the education system is failing your country and children. Like: dropping down the international rankings, businesses having to give remedial education to employees, children to lazy to get ‘certain’ jobs so that we are forced to give them to people from other nations, grade inflation, cheating exam boards, teaching to the test, and of course the personal knowledge of children not being stretched. And yet teachers are frothing at the mouth saying its all fine, its better than ever. The words just don’t match reality. So when we get a respected man like Gove trying to introduce reform, opposed by teachers, who are we to believe. And quite frankly its hard to believe teachers when every time they want more money they just blackmail parents with the possibility of strikes.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 23-Nov-12 22:25:00

you have just outed yourself

lurcherlover Fri 23-Nov-12 22:47:48

chloe [wearily] I wish you would take my earlier advice and look at GCSE papers for yourself, rather than believing hearsay. To correct you on a few points (you will see I'm right, if you bother to find the papers online and read them):
1. Students answer questions on whole texts, not just extracts. The current AQA GCSE Literature exam requires them to write about two entire texts. They also have to study a range of poetry, both modern and pre-1914.
2. Students may have a clean, unannotated copy of their exam texts in the exam. Nothing else, and certainly no sheets of quotations.
3. Exam boards have never communicated exam content to schools, and never will. They do obviously share assessment objectives and suggest teaching methods that will best enable AOs to be taught. That's not the same as sharing questions at all. There are always at least two separate exam papers prepared for each exam series, so that if there is any possibility of a leak to schools (a van carrying papers was stolen one year, for example) the papers can all be recalled and the subs issued.

No, I was not party to grade inflation. I mark according to the markscheme and monitor the marking of other examiners to check that they are marking according to the markscheme. Grade boundaries are set separately.

You clearly have very fixed (if erroneous) views about the exam system, so I shall not waste any further time trying to enlighten you. If you're in the business of correcting other posters though(Cameron, indeed), I will happily point out the basic punctuation and grammar errors you are making in your posts, if you like. You will be reassured to learn, I'm sure, that we teach students not to comma splice these days.

ravenAK Fri 23-Nov-12 22:49:08

That last post is too hilarious to deconstruct. But I'll give my subject specific bit a go, just for shits & giggles.

'The current GCSE’s are structured so you can pass an exam question on a literary classic with only having read the extract you already know you are going to be tested on.'

No - Eng Lit GCSE for AQA requires you to answer questions on two novels (one classic, one modern) with no prior indication of which part of the text you'll be tested on, or indeed whether the question needs you to draw from several points in the text. You also have a paper on a range of pre & post 1914 poetry, which asks you to compare two poems from 15 you have studied, & an 'unseen' question requiring you to write an essay on a poem you have not studied.

'And exams boards tell schools what these are going to be. Isn't that why so many English students couldn't get a ‘C’ this year because they could only cope with the question they were expecting and weren't able to deal with the whole subject.'

No - I don't think you've quite understood that English Language & English Literature are separate GCSEs. Please see many other threads to inform yourself about the Eng Lang shifting goalpost grade boundary fiasco, but no, the exam was entirely as expected & prepared for.

'A teacher even told me you are allowed to take a sheet of quotes from the book into the exam with you.'

No - you are allowed a planning sheet, including key quotations if you want to waste your time copying them out - I discourage this - for Controlled Assessments, which are open book as they test analysis, not parrot recall. This is distinct, completely separate, from the examination.

Honestly, you are woefully & embarrassingly wrong on all points.

There's plenty to get cross about re: education, but you have possibly now convinced me that Michael Gove is not the least informed person expressing opinions on the subjects. I'm quite impressed.

lurcherlover Fri 23-Nov-12 22:52:21

Great minds, * raven*...

squeezedatbothends Fri 23-Nov-12 22:53:10

Chloe74, you are clearly quite mad so I'm not sure why we're all bothering, but since you mention my post my point was that he consulted experts AND THEN IGNORED THEM because he didn't agree with them. You must be related.

squeezedatbothends Fri 23-Nov-12 22:55:24

Chloe 74, and you need to look up the correct usage of too/to too.

ravenAK Fri 23-Nov-12 23:00:55

Aye lurcher!

Although I suspect we are wasting our time & should just have PM'd some dried frog pills over.

EvilTwins Sat 24-Nov-12 01:17:47

Chloe74 - you know NOTHING, and are embarrasing yourself with your ignorant posts.

That is all.

MsAverage Sat 24-Nov-12 11:58:48

EvilTwins, I see that blunt ad hominem keeps being your favourite type of an argument.

MsAverage Sat 24-Nov-12 12:25:04

ReallyTired, we can not investigate in modern students failing O-level papers without a control group in a form of 50-s students sitting GSCEs. Children doing O-levels were preparing to O-level, and O-levels were far from "universal knowledge", it was quite specific set.

I actually once had a go on 50s maths and English O-level papers just to find out if their superiority is as self-evident as I read in various forums. I would say they O-level papers were actually more concentrated on knowledge that skills, and I do not find that great. English papers included loads of vocabulary testing (of course, all words Greek and Latin origin). Cool, but I more appreciate skills to express oneself clearly in the simplest form, rather than ability to give definition of elucidate or verisimilitude.

chloe74 Sat 24-Nov-12 12:25:40

I think personal attacks / insults are all most people have when they run out of coherent arguments.

The problem on here is most teachers like to believe that every child is taught the most perfect form of the curriculum by the most perfect teachers. However I refer to the real world and what actually happens in classrooms and exams all over the country. The two aren't obviously the same.

lljkk Sat 24-Nov-12 12:27:15

Thanks for this thread which made me concentrate to focus on Gove's idea for new EB replacing core GCSEs. I read that Gove wants to extend it to include history, geography, other subjects.

I will have to ponder to figure out what I think. It seems like moving towards a American-style High School diploma. Where you have to pass minimum thresholds in many things to get any qualification at all. Except that in US system you are allowed as many course repeats as you need.

Traditionally and by convention, the American approach is overwhelmingly coursework based. You do get exams, big ones & little ones, but these are regular & frequent along the way, it's not like you have one big set of exams at the end that counts for 90% of the marks. Also, daily or weekly homework contributes to the final marks. If you fail a course then you repeat the entire course, Saturdays or evenings if needed. I think the English final-exam-is-everything-system is sheer insanity, obviously. Although I am comfortable with standardised (normalised curve) results, that is fine in my mind (yet I don't think Gove is saying there will be a return to it, though, which means further grade inflation, no??). We had no end of efforts to cheat in our pre-WWW era schools, too, so I don't see why WWW makes such a difference to ability to cheat. I can think of heaps of ways to cheat without Internet help.

I know USA is not Singapore/India/China, but seems to me that their education has had its fair share of successes. Whereas what Gove suggests might well be worst of both worlds.

Isn't Finland always held up as having the most splendid education system? yet they leave at 16. How does Finland assign final grades or qualifications for school leavers?

lljkk Sat 24-Nov-12 12:37:04

OECD data, % achieving equivalent of High School Diploma:

Korea 80%
Finland 82%
USA 89%
UK 74%

So even in high achieving Korea, 20% of pupils still don't achieve the basics.

From what I'm reading about Finnish system it's too different from UK for me to know where to start comparing.

noblegiraffe Sat 24-Nov-12 12:45:44

One interesting thing about O-levels and norm-referenced grades is that in the first few years of O-level, the number of students passing went up by 100%. How's that for grade inflation?

The thing was that the number of students being entered for O-level doubled. If you say 'the pass grade will be determined by what the top 50% of students achieve' then that is only fair if the number and standard of entries remains static. If you have more and more students giving it a go, from the lower end (the top end having always been entered, but the lower end now being pushed towards the qualification which will open doors) then the average mark will inevitably drop. If the pass grade is decided by the average mark, then the mark required to pass will drop and the exam will get easier to pass.

MsAverage Sat 24-Nov-12 13:03:22

Noble, exactly the same story happens further on the educational pipe. University lecturers complain about quality of modern students, comparing the modern lower end (when almost a half of the population cohort goes to higher education) to average students of their, of course, golden, times (when 15% did so).

EvilTwins Sat 24-Nov-12 13:47:28

Sorry, chloe, was a bit pissed and fed up with your blind worship of Gove. I still (sober now) find your assertion that it must be true because a politician said it laughable.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 24-Nov-12 14:25:28

Your numbers for University attendance are WAY out.
When I went - in the mid 80's - it was 5%
it is now 30%

Bliar wanted 50% but that was always cloud cuckoo land.

lurcherlover Sat 24-Nov-12 15:00:27

chloe, I'm not sure why you think there are two different sets of exams in this world - the fantasy GCSEs I and others are talking about, and the real ones that you KNOW exist in "the real world", which I assume are the ones where apparently students only write about an extract and know in advance what it'll be anyway. Once again, I urge you to read an actual, real, higher tier GCSE paper for yourself. Have you done it yet?

prettybird Sat 24-Nov-12 15:10:35

One of the other ways that they increased the numbers of people going to university was to convert many colleges of further education into universities - that, at a stroke, increasing the number of places available.

squeezedatbothends Sat 24-Nov-12 17:14:24

Chloe, I still think you're mad. It's not an insult, just an observation.

EduCrazy Sun 25-Nov-12 13:44:34


Her is the evidence you required that children from Ethnic Minorty Groups had their scores downgraded when marked by teachers internally while receiving higher marks for the same paper when marked externally. And Whilte children had their scores inflated.


EduCrazy Sun 25-Nov-12 13:45:45

Excuse the typo's, pressed the wrong button and was posted prematurelysmile

EduCrazy Sun 25-Nov-12 13:54:22

As much as I'm against the scrapping of the GCSE's, with information like this, I can see no other choice.

Part of the conclusion of the report is as follows:

5. Conclusions
We have shown that there are enduring and significant differences in teachers’
assessments of pupils from different ethnic groups. On average, Black Caribbean and
Black African pupils are under-assessed relative to white pupils, and Indian, Chinese
and mixed white-Asian pupils are over-assessed.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 25-Nov-12 13:56:19

And how will what Gove proposes deal with that?

EduCrazy Sun 25-Nov-12 14:00:23

One externally marked exam paper, similar to O'levels, as opposed to teacher assessed course work.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 25-Nov-12 14:03:51

But the changes already in place in the GCSEs that DD will sit have dealt with that issue
there is no need to have more change till what has been started runs through to a set of exams

EduCrazy Sun 25-Nov-12 14:11:57


The reason I posted the link is becuase Noblegiraffe, lurcherlover and EvilTwins a few pages prior said it was poppycock and wanted further evidence, so I'm providing it.

Is your DD in year 7 and will therefore be impacted by the change? Is that what you're referring to? I may have missed something as I've not been on for a couple of days. I really just wanted to provide the link which provided the evidence they were after.

ravenAK Sun 25-Nov-12 14:20:15

I actually agree that teacher assessed coursework is problematic for all sorts of reasons.

I'm not aware that I have any racial, class or gender bias when marking, but then obviously I wouldn't know if I had an unconscious bias. Maybe I do. hmm.

But clearly, when my individual Performance Management depends largely on my residual, an incentive is created for me to over-mark my own students - yes, there are moderation procedures, but if I'm squarely in band 4 for a piece of creative writing, but hesitating as to whether to award 7 or 8 marks, obviously I'm going to go with 8. Daft not to.

& when we internally moderate, the colleague looking at this point of work may well be thinking 'That's a bit rich - I'd give that 7 - but well, I suppose raven could justify an 8 - if I change it we'll be here another 20 minutes discussing it...' & if shifting it that one mark down costs that student their C, that's half a per cent off the school's 5 A* -C score...

I'd like to see CAs externally marked, & identified by candidate numbers only to avoid any subconscious bias created by names that are suggestive of ethnicity, demographic or gender.

It'd be an expensive logistical nightmare, but probably the fairest way of assessing attainment at GCSE rigorously.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 25-Nov-12 15:14:29

It IS Poppycock.
That paper is dated 2009
so related to the 2008 exams
pre coalition
pre Gove

The changes that have been implemented since then are SO SUBSTANTIAL as to make that paper history rather than research.

DD is in Year 10. She has started her GCSE courses
All but one of which will be measured by exams at the end.
No coursework, no internal marking.
All of the issues in that ancient paper have been addressed within the GCSE
The single exam that she will have coursework for is a design based course with a three month project.

before you slag off the GCSE, find out where it is now.

Gove has brought in so many changes
without allowing time for any of them to bed down.
The retrospective Ebacc was one of the most spectacularly crass things done to any cohort ever

and now he's so belief driven, that he's not even willing to see the evidence of his current changes before inventing more.

Thankfully DS is in year 8 - the final year of GCSEs - if Gove is not stopped - so we can take reasoned views of his career chances rather than pissing in the wind like Year 7 parents will have to do.

EvilTwins Sun 25-Nov-12 16:14:23

Educrazy - thanks for PMing the "research", but as Talkin says, it's out of date. smile

chloe74 Sun 25-Nov-12 17:14:13

Make changes slowly and you will have teaching Unions moaning forever. Make the changes all in one go and you will only have to deal with them moaning once. Seems Gove is clever enough to do the latter. The first exams wont start until 2017 I think, with the phasing in of other subjects after that. How long do you want to wait, until 2027?

My son will be in the second year doing the new exams and I think it will enhance his career chances. What would really harm his education was if he was stuck with the devalued GCSE, which employers ignore.

I will happily bet any new government wont stop the new exams because the public want these improvements.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 25-Nov-12 17:19:25

Chloe74 - or shall we call you Mrs Gove - bog off - you are talking utter carp
Gove did not do it all in one go
he has done it piecemeal without letting the dust settle in between

ANY sensible government will carry on the GCSEs with the changes already in place - even Cameroon's one
rather than taking a potentially disastrous punt on Gove's beliefs

And find (by name) the employer that ignores GCSE results

So, your son is in year 6 - yup, that tallies with the Wikipedia page .....

TeddyBare Sun 25-Nov-12 17:38:20

Of all the disasters Gove is setting up for education this has to be one of the worst.
I'm concerned about the consequences of his maths curriculum - how is more rote learning, more mental maths and a universal knowledge of roman numerals going to help future engineers, designers or scientists?! I struggle to see the value of an exam for 16 year olds which doesn't allow them to use a calculator as calculators are not going to be un-invented and pretty much everyone has a phone with a calculator. I would prefer maths lessons to be focussed on teaching dc to extract maths questions from the real world, formulate them into maths questions, use a calculator for the calculating and then translate the calculation back into the real world. That's how maths works in professions which use it, it's more interesting and it's more conceptual therefore easier to remember the important bits.
His chief ofsted inspector also scares me. What kind of person would consider it to be good for education if teachers' morale is at an all time low? Teachers need to be valued more not less. I dislike the anti-teacher rhetoric and I wonder if that has led to higher teacher turnover in schools.
I'm a university lecturer and the last 10 years of "improvements" have made a good effort at decimating education in this country and that scares me. If I was a school teacher I think I'd be looking at Scotland and hoping it does go independent. I'm grateful I'm able to home school my dc.

NaturallyGullible Sun 25-Nov-12 17:50:53

I like the EB.

When I did my options back in 1980, we were pretty much forced into what is now the EB.

The option blocks meant we had to choose a humanity, modern foreign language and another subject. I remember being told the rational for this which was all very reasonable.

My older kids, without any coercion from Mr Gove, have managed an EB profile of exams. They have done is because they are sensible and pragmatic choices, which will open doors for them in the future.

ravenAK Sun 25-Nov-12 18:12:07

I'd certainly steer my dc towards a similar option set - they're reasonably academic. If they weren't it might not necessarily be appropriate.

However, I think we're no longer talking Ebacc as in 'sensible option blocks for academically inclined & able children' but as in 'a new exam set which is a bit like O Levels, as far as anyone knows who hasn't seen the back of the envelope on which the idiot Gove scribbled it.'

You'd think he could come up with two separate buzzy names for two completely separate half-arsed ideas, what with his being a journo by trade.

chloe74 Sun 25-Nov-12 20:46:40

I hope you don't teach children that when you don't have a proper retort to an argument just use insults. I mean is that the best you have, calling me Mrs Gove (a compliment by all accounts).. by that logic you are Ms Balls.

You can't avoid making improvements just because some teachers say their morale will be affected. The logic that follows would be that teachers could stop any improvements to the education system just by claiming it will distress them. Amongst most professions teachers have the least to stress them.

Teddy - I completely agree the education system has been decimated over the past decade. Exactly why we need radical reforms. But as for replacing learning with mobile phones, I cant think of anything worse. Last week I could get a girl in a shop to subtract two simple numbers to arrive at the correct discount I was due. All she could say was, essentially, computer says no. I had to get a manager and even then it took them 5 minutes to mentally subtract the two numbers and accept I was right and not the computer. And lets not get started on how mobile phones have started to entrench this text speak language to the extent that they can't even communicate in normal words.

Learning the basics of Maths, Science and English without the need to consult a phone or the internet is crucial.

ReallyTired Sun 25-Nov-12 20:52:22

"Learning the basics of Maths, Science and English without the need to consult a phone or the internet is crucial. "

Could not agree more. I think that the EBac will help social mobility. It will make it possible for the brightest comprehensive children to apply to the best universities.

The present proposals are far from perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. I would like Gove to be more radical.

lurcherlover Sun 25-Nov-12 21:10:31

The problem is that by making everything about English, Maths and Science, other subjects become devalued. Schools at the moment are measured and judged by the percentage of students who gain 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths - just 5 A*-Cs isn't enough. I agree in principle that this is the right thing to do, but the problem is that schools' budgets are massively stretched and when other subjects don't "count", they are marginalised and often ignored or even dropped altogether. In an ideal world, schools would be all about the "whole pupil" and regard all subjects equally - and in private schools they can afford to do so - but in the real world, they prioritise the subjects that will get them a good Ofsted report and a high rating in the league tables. Subjects such as Art, Drama and Music get short shrift in many schools as a result of the massive emphasis on English and Maths - less time on the curriculum, fewer staff to teach them (and more non-specialists doing so), less money in their dept budgets for resources...of course, most schools do their best to keep these subjects going and to resource them, but if money is tight, their budget will be cut way before the English or Maths budgets will.

The other issue is that Gove really has not though through the alternatives to GCSEs (or O levels, or whatever system he wants to bring in place) for the weaker students. He doesn't like vocational qualifications, but what is his alternative?

And for those who still thinks his policies are coherent, consider these little Govian nuggets - some of my favourites:
1. He criticised schools for failing pupils, because not all get the aforementioned 5 A*-Cs inc English and Maths. He said he failed to see why a school should not be able to get 100% of pupils to achieve this. Then shortly after he announces that he wants GCSEs to be much harder to pass. Great joined-up thinking if I've ever seen some hmm
2. He wants a more rigorous secondary national curriculum, and wants to dictate the content much more precisely. Yet he also wants the best schools to become academies - which are free to choose their own curriculum and don't have to follow the NC at all. So he's proposing a wonderful new NC, but the "best" schools don't have to follow it? Sounds like he's got a lot of faith in it....

You're right, by the way, chloe. Teachers have no stress in their lives at all, really. I teach about 80 pupils who will all be sitting external exams this year, and I will be held responsible for their results (not the pupils, of course - just me) and my pay progression depends on it. Pay progression depending entirely on the performance of other people - teenagers, no less, some dealing with very complex issues in their home lives - isn't stressful at all. Those long holidays are wasted on me really... [hmmm]

By the way, if teaching is such a walk in the park and you know so much about it, why aren't you doing it?

noblegiraffe Sun 25-Nov-12 21:18:29

Make the changes all in one go

If only he bloody would. He has tinkered with and continues to tinker with GCSEs so that pretty much every year up until they're scrapped the kids will be sitting something slightly different and likely to affect their grades to the previous year. Every sodding time he's on telly it's to announce something new to happen immediately.

And I suspect he plans the same for A-level. The tinkering has begun and I'm sure it won't be long before I wake up to him announcing on BBC Breakfast that he has decided to replace them with something as yet indefinable.

BTW, I'm not sure why you think that kids don't learn how to add up without calculators. There's a whole non-calculator paper at GCSE. And at A-level.

crazymum53 Sun 25-Nov-12 21:28:35

"Make the changes all in one go and you will only have to deal with them moaning once. Seems Gove is clever enough to do the latter."

Am afraid that Gove's method of doing all the changes in one go is not clever at all. The basis of Scientific method (which is what I teach to my students) is that when carrying out an experiment you change one variable at a time and keep the other variables constant. Then you can work out how that change affects the system. If you change everything at once you can't possibly tell which variable has affected the results the most.

If my students applied Gove's method to their A level investigations they would fail their courses.

noblegiraffe Sun 25-Nov-12 21:46:06

I actually have no problem with Maths GCSE being scrapped and replaced. Maths teachers have been complaining about it being not fit for purpose for years (and especially since they scrapped the three tiers).

I just don't have any faith in Gove doing a good job of it. He has proven to be a complete tit who is out of touch with modern society, let alone modern education and has an obsession with everyone having exactly the same education that he had at his private school regardless of the fact that it is not suitable for everybody. And his vague burblings about rigorous exams that will nonetheless be sat by 80% of the population without tiering are just appalling and extremely worrying.

TeddyBare Sun 25-Nov-12 21:48:11

Chloe - while I can imagine that that situation was really very frustrating, I don't think the sole aim of the maths curriculum should be to make consumers shopping experience faster. If the girl was really struggling with basic maths then I think teaching her how to competently use a calculator would be more valuable for her and her employer. Teaching her Roman numerals or maths by rote (which gets forgotten much more quickly than actual understanding of concepts) probably wouldn't have made a bit of difference.

It is reasonable to assume that the demand for technological development is going to grow and that is utterly dependant upon skilled computer programmers, scientists and designers. The maths skills they need and are often lacking are the skills to "translate" between the real world and mathematical language. There is no point being able to do complex calculations by hand when what you need to do is work out what to calculate in order to be able to estimate when the avalanche will happen. Schools don't teach that skill and don't examine it so people are having to learn this by intuition and on the job. Computers and calculators are already faster and more accurate at calculating than human are and there is no reason to believe that they're going to get slower. A more efficient use of human-mathematical skill is to focus it on the things which computers are not good at, such as real world questions, and teach people how to use the computers properly. Rote learning might have been valuable in 1912 but it just isn't enough any more.

As for the anti-teacher language - what do you think that achieves? The problems of insufficient budget, poor curriculum, children who are being let down by their parents or the care system and over examination and assessment can't be resolved by bullying teachers. All that achieves is pushing good teachers out of the system into private schools or other careers. The job needs to be appealing to attract and keep the best applicants and at the moment you'd have to be mad to consider teaching.

noblegiraffe Sun 25-Nov-12 21:59:14

Schools don't teach that skill

We do teach kids how to use calculators. We're not still on log and trig tables!

However the insistence on mental arithmetic and written methods does lead to kids thinking that calculators are 'cheating'. Even if they are faced with a tricky percentage question on a calculator paper, you can guarantee that half of them will attempt to do a written calculation. They're so used to being told to put their calculators away that when they are allowed to use them, they forget to.

EvilTwins Sun 25-Nov-12 22:23:46

The man thinks it is possible for all schools to be above average, which just proves that he's a buffoon, what with it not being mathematically possible and all that.

TeddyBare Sun 25-Nov-12 23:23:14

noblegiraffe - I'm not saying that calculators aren't used. I know that is taught in schools. What is lacking is the practice at working out which question you want answered and extracting the relevant data from the real world then formulating it into something you can put in a calculator. That's the skill which requires human thought rather than computers and it's also a skill which seems to be missing from the new syllabus. You can't rote learn concepts.

Improving the standards requires some analysis of what "better" means and rearranging the curriculum to make it teach and test that, rather than blindly assuming that the target which was right for the last hundred years is still the right one and that we're just failing to meet it.

noblegiraffe Sun 25-Nov-12 23:49:47

When you say new syllabus do you mean the current syllabus or the as yet undefined EBC syllabus for 2015?

Also, what sort of question did you have in mind? If you're looking for 'here's a bunch of data on holiday prices, which is the cheapest for a family of 4 going for 2 weeks in August?' then there is a bit of that functional maths in there. If you want 'are left handers better at estimating lengths than right handers' then that sort of thing is covered in Statistics GCSE (a bit). But if you think that maths GCSE should mainly be about formulating problems so that they can be entered into a calculator then we might have a fundamental disagreement about what maths is.

It's a huge issue that people have different expectations about what maths GCSE should cover. Employers want C grade students to be numerate, yet it is not a qualification in numeracy. Sixth form teacher want students to be proficient in algebra, but there's not enough of that either. And you want applied computational maths for a technology savvy generation.

Clearly we need more than one qualification. Not ruled out, I think, in the EBC, but also not clear as to what that will cover. And I doubt Gove is a fan of calculators because I don't think they had them when he was at school.

ravenAK Mon 26-Nov-12 00:32:55

A slide rule for every child, with a personal message from His Goveness engraved thereon? Couldn't be dafter than the bibles.

wordfactory Mon 26-Nov-12 07:54:33

My understanding is that schools will not be forced to offer it to every child. Certainly there are many pupils for whom it is not appropriate. But I do think there should be transparent data as to how many pupils attain it. Schools that are not ensuring their most able pupils are covering thsed subjects need to be asking themselves why.

EduCrazy Mon 26-Nov-12 10:31:36

Noblegiraffe/EvilTwins - 3 years ago is hardly old. Tell me, what SUBSTANTIAL changes have been brought about since then to bring about change, because from what I can see, you teachers wasn't even aware that the problem existed? I look forward to you sending me a link with recent procedures and information that are now in place with regards to the marking of coursework, especially if it constitutes part of the overall mark of an exam. In any case, if students are being unreasonably marked down even for their day to day work, let alone their coursework towards an exam, while others are having their marks inflated, it is clearly an area that needs radical intervention, as those being unfairly marked will eventually disengage from studies altogether as a result of feeling undervalued.

ravenAK - I am so proud of you. While others want to brush the situation under the carpet, you say, hold on a minute, perhaps there is a problem here. Well done you. It's teachers like you, who admit that it's not impossible for bias to exist in any format, who'd be more likely to ensure racism and the like didn't rear its ugly head in your classroom.

It was reported (although not by any means am I implying the same with schools at this stage) that there was institutionalised racism within our police force, for example. Procedures were put in place to prevent this from happening in the future. It would be impossible to eradicate racist views within individual police officers, likewise teachers, but at least steps have been put in to minimise their impact. I would like to know therefore, what procedures were put in place in the last three years to prevent this from happening. Procedures that were so effective, the teachers on here, such as Noblegiraffe and EviltTwins, worringly, didn't even know the problem ever existed.

noblegiraffe Mon 26-Nov-12 10:41:14

I think I suggested way upthread that the way to solve bias in coursework marking, racist or otherwise was to have it marked externally by exam boards, as maths coursework used to be.

As maths doesn't have coursework anymore, I'm not sure what current procedures are in place, but it would be a huge failing on the part of the exam boards if they haven't addressed this.

noblegiraffe Mon 26-Nov-12 10:43:24

In fact, I am astonished that the Ofqual report tried to blame teachers for over marking. It is the exam boards' responsibility to moderate marking and ensure that the mark scheme is interpreted fairly, and to train teachers in correct marking.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 26-Nov-12 12:22:37

As I stated quite clearly (and you would know yourself if you researched)
- models and partial retakes have been abolished
- coursework has been abolished
- almost all subjects are now examined at the end of the 2 years
(like it was in O level days, the exceptions being Art and design courses)
- boundary levels are no longer being set to create grade inflation each year
- the number of qualifications accepted for entry to higher education has been massively narrowed.

how much more substantial do you want?

chloe74 Mon 26-Nov-12 12:45:05

Teachers over marked and Ofqual moderated. In essence the system worked, in no small part to having a more competent Secretary of State in charge. Obviously it would be better in future that teachers didn't raise pupils expectations and there wouldn't be such appointment when some children fail the exam.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 26-Nov-12 12:48:11

Teachers over marked
Link please to your evidence for that assertion.

So, do you agree that the substantial change is already in place?
No need for a mad leap into the dark?
Especially once Gove gets reshuffled out of Education .......

noblegiraffe Mon 26-Nov-12 12:55:59

I think you misunderstood the process, Chloe. Teachers over marked, the exam boards moderated and said nothing about the apparent over marking although it should have been obvious from moderation that it was a problem. So teachers had no feedback from the exam boards that they were over marking and no reason to think their marking was incorrect.

It was only because of the exam board grade boundary balls up that Ofqual stepped in at all and it suddenly came to light that teachers were marking too generously. Which seems to have seen as a way to try to pin the whole fiasco on teachers when, the failure of the exam boards there is a separate issue to the grade boundary one, which was also a failure on the part of the exam boards.

chloe74 Mon 26-Nov-12 12:58:32

The recent investigation released by Ofqual, widely reported on, uncovered the issues of over marking.

I agree that Gove is putting in place the substantial reform we need. He has been in position for 6 years and I would expect him to see the reforms through until at least 2015/2016. Once the reforms are through I wouldn't be to upset if he had a different position and the dept was looked after by a 'safe' pair of hands, to keep the Unions happy.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 26-Nov-12 13:13:29

He has been in position for 6 years
sorry? was he a Labour minister?
I believe you mean two years and six months.
And the sooner he is reshuffled the better.

And noble is correct about how the 'overmarking' happened.

chloe74 Mon 26-Nov-12 13:58:31

He was also shadowing the Labour minister in this area from 2006. Hence he has had plenty of time to become an expert and form opinions before starting to implement them.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 26-Nov-12 14:12:21

he has had plenty of time to become an expert and form opinions
pontificating from the opposition benches is not the same as doing the job
and yes, he's formed lots of opinions but NOBODY rates him as an expert except himself, his wife, Cameroon and you ....

You set far too much store in the ability of politicians.
Roll on that reshuffle.

radicalsubstitution Mon 26-Nov-12 16:56:45

Teachers over marked and Ofqual moderated

I have read this too. But the report went on to say that teachers were not trying to 'cheat' the system, but rather were generous with their application of marking criteria in order to 'fit' the coursework within the students target grades.

Chloe, time and time again you make very sweeping generalisations about teachers and their attitude towards the profession and their responsibilities. This is why teachers get more than a little annoyed and start resorting to swearing and insults (usually on a Friday night).

I don't think there are any teachers who think the education system, every school and every teacher is perfect or even good in every case.

Teachers are under an immense amount of pressure to ensure students reach target grades. The rights and wrongs of this can be argued forever and a day but, while ever teachers are responsible for assessing their students and this assessment forms part of the teacher's performance review, they will err on the side of generosity. I would like to see any profession under the sun where this wouldn't be the case.

The current government came into power with sweeping statements about removing targets from the public sector and so far have entirely failed to do so in education. If anything, the situation has become considerably worse - particularly under the latest Ofsted framework where progress against targets is everything.

Before you start on me, I fully appreciate that private sector employees face exactly the same sort of pressures. However, I would argue that the results are the same - impose a rigid numerical target on a member of staff and they will ensure they meet it to the detriment of other aspects of their work.

Having worked extensively in the private sector, I know this is the case.

noblegiraffe Mon 26-Nov-12 21:22:32

Oh good grief, Gove isn't an education expert, he's a politician. It's not his job to be an expert, it's his job to win votes.

He's a very good politician too. I've observed him deal with journalists and colleagues and he is excellent at schmoozing.

Bramshott Tue 27-Nov-12 11:06:20

EBACC is a solution to a league table problem, not an education problem. Get rid of league tables and the 'problem' that the EBACC solves also vanishes.

noblegiraffe Tue 27-Nov-12 11:48:50

Interestingly, since Labour changed it so that languages were no longer compulsory at KS4, my school has always timetabled languages against vocational options. A child at KS4 can either opt for a GCSE course in French or German, or something like a BTEC in Health and Social Care. Blimey, the amount of parental complaints we've had that academic children are being forced to select languages against their will.

People always seem to blame schools for kids not taking languages and being denied an Ebac of academic subjects but it really isn't just down to the schools.

hellsbells99 Tue 27-Nov-12 11:52:25

I think there are a few misunderstandings about the current GCSEs. I have a DD1 in year 11 and DD2 in year 10 so we are in the middle of lots of changes! For example: both girls are taking triple science (AQA) - DD1 has completed 1 set of exams so far (1 for chemistry, 1 for Biology, 1 for Physics) with 2 sets still to go (Jan 2013 & June 2013). These exams were 'new specification' and the papers very different from previous years - 6 mark questions etc. This made revision harder as there were no past papers. Also particulalry in Biology, it didn't seem to test pure knowledge but was more about whether the students could interpret graphs etc. DD2 will follow the same 'new spec' but have to sit all her exams at the end of year 11 (so 9 papers in science). Both DDs will still do controlled assessments ('course work') in all their subjects - this has not changed!
DD1 talk maths GCSE (Edexcel) early at the end of year 10 - this again was a new spec and contained lots of 'functional' type questions. She did not do as well as expected as the past papers (which she scored highly on) were very different - the wording, questions etc.
DD2 has been told there are changes to Geography plus various other changes.
The changes are constant and I do feel very sorry for the teachers trying to keep up with them.
I think controlled assessments will stay until the new Ebacc exams things!

hellsbells99 Tue 27-Nov-12 11:55:07

'particulalry' ..... particularly


cricketballs Tue 27-Nov-12 18:42:30

The issue I have and why I defend BTEC so adamantly is that not all students or subjects are being considered on parallel --.

The lower ability students are never going to access the type of assessment of these new qualifications nor the content.

Those students whom learn best through a vocational manner i.e. applying theory to practical so they can see the relevance of what they are learning.

Those students who work better on continual assessment through coursework rather than freezing in an exam hall which is so far removed from the reality of work

in other words the vast majority of our young people are to going to be considered not important due to these new qualifications and ultimately by school management as their rating on the league tables will be based on the elite few that can access, understand and are able to be assessed in this limited range of subjects using this manner of assessment rather than all students who deserve to be.

Chloe - that is why teachers are so against something that discriminates against so many of our students

allegrovivace Wed 28-Nov-12 17:18:57

Just wish they hadn't decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater! Why not cut down the number of retakes possible, have exams set by one board to reduce the race to the bottom, and retain the good stuff about GCSEs - breadth of choice, use of coursework as well as final exam?

TalkinPeace2 Wed 28-Nov-12 17:32:55

they have already DONE the whole of your list
but the idiot gove does not seem to understand that two year courses take a little while to show results

chloe74 Wed 28-Nov-12 20:38:42

I think all the changes will be good but you get to a point where you have rubbed an incorrect answer out so many times that your page starts looking dirty and full of errors. Sometimes the only option is to start a fresh page and get it right from the beginning. The GCSE had become so discredited that a break from the past is the only way to restore confidence in the system. I am pretty sure all the improvements will be kept and the baby will be looked after, in a nice new bath with clean water. Its understandable that some people are afraid of change but we have to keep reaching for the stars and not stay cowering in the cave forever.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 28-Nov-12 20:43:19

the changes only look a mess if you do not let the ink dry before making another one
and GCSE had become so discredited
evidence please

ravenAK Wed 28-Nov-12 21:18:22

Which 'changes will be good'?

& why would you be 'pretty sure all the improvements will be kept'?

Which improvements?

Please be specific & support your assertions with evidence.

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