Planned changes to secondary-school exams (EBacc etc): teachers say there should be more consultation; what do you think?

(220 Posts)
LittleTownofBethleHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-Dec-12 14:51:43


We've been contacted by The National Union of Teachers (NUT), who'd be really interested to hear your views on the planned changes to secondary-school exams.

The NUT, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Musicians' Union have joined forces to say that, although they're not opposed to reform of the exam system, they think the Government's recent consultation on the new EBacc was too limited and that any decision to move ahead is being made in haste.

They say: "We believe on an issue of such importance to young people's future the conversation cannot be over. Accordingly we are asking for a further consultation with a wider remit and brief, involving parents and students, as well as the profession and employers."

They've also set up a microsite to petition Michael Gove to re-open and extend his review of secondary-school exams.

Please do feel free to post your thoughts here.

Welovecouscous Fri 14-Dec-12 15:58:07

I would like a 5 year cross party moratorium for any more fiddling with the exam system as it is so disruptive for students and teachers

Not a teacher just a parent. .

chloe74 Fri 14-Dec-12 16:35:30

The GCSE is dead, its not fair on children or teachers to drag this out any longer, lets get on with the EBacc.

More consultation means what, more compromise trying to please more people and ending up with a system that will be so diluted it will be as bad as the GCSE. You can't please all of the people all of the time.

LilyBolero Fri 14-Dec-12 16:50:16

I have a child who would be in the 1st cohort of children doing the new exams. I am very worried that he will not know until he goes into Y10 exactly what exams he will be taking; whether it will be E-Bacc, or whether it will be GCSE, and it seems very unfair, as they are very different in concept - if he is going to be taking a 100% exam based qualification, then he needs to be getting used to that from Y7 onwards, whereas nobody knows what he will be doing. Likewise, if it is to be the more coursework based GCSE, he needs to be doing more of that.

It is a disgrace that music, RE and art are not deemed to be worthy or rigorous subjects by Gove, and he should definitely think again about that.

Finally, Gove should stop deriding the schools - whenever he comes out with a diatribe about pupils 'not learning tables' or 'not doing Shakespeare' or 'not learning poetry' or 'not having rigorous teaching', I think he should go into my children's school, which is a state school, in a mixed area, that does all of these things, and more. It is very dis-spiriting for teachers to have their efforts constantly run down by someone who has an ideological agenda, and isn't actually interested in what is happening on the ground.

Phineyj Fri 14-Dec-12 17:06:13

I'm a teacher. My (selective) school switched to i-GCSE in most of the proposed EBacc subjects some time ago. I think the Govt should stop pretending that it's possible to have one qualification that meets the needs of all 16 year olds. They should also think hard about reforming the exam system at the same time as the proposals to raise the school leaving age to 18 -- why not follow other countries and make the main exam at 18? I also disapprove of the way the E-Bacc omits the creative subjects -- something in which the UK has a comparative advantage. However, I think it's time to take RS out of the compulsory curriculum, given what the latest Census shows about declining levels of religious belief (it could still be offered as an option & would presumably feature in PHSE).

However, I think if they're going to change the exams, they should go ahead and change them and not get bogged down in years of uncertainty and 'consultation'. I took the second year of GCSE back in the 80s and then the second year of AS levels -- I don't remember the teachers or students making a huge fuss, and we all knew the GCSE was the replacement for O level and the AS level for AO level.

TimeChild Fri 14-Dec-12 17:18:46

Agree with Phineyj that it is not the way to exclude art and music from EBacc. UK is a world leader in the creative industries, perhaps thanks to the way the current system has nurtured students with talent for these. Besides, art as it is taught at GCSE is intellectual, looking at conceptual ideas, art history as well as technique.

I went through the O level system and was not allowed to take the creative subjects as I was thought to be too academic for them. This is something I regret to this day.

purits Fri 14-Dec-12 17:20:07

I would like a 5 year cross party moratorium for any more fiddling with the exam system.

My job changes every year when the Government brings out new legislation. It's a pain but you accept it as normal. Sometimes there is tinkering round the edges, sometimes there are major reforms - either way, you cope because you have to.
Teachers seem to resist change; they should accept that it is a factor in working life in the 21st century. They need to embrace Change Management, like the rest of us do, and be teaching it to the next generation.

Welovecouscous Fri 14-Dec-12 17:20:26

I was in the first few years of gcse and remember the teachers not being very sure what we were supposed to be doing sad

TimeChild Fri 14-Dec-12 17:21:56

... and fully support the NUT view that there should be more consultation.

Welovecouscous Fri 14-Dec-12 17:22:11

Purits because it:

Costs money
Wastes teachers' time getting to grips with new content and marking systems
Implicitly undermines the previous qualifications
Is unsettling for pupils and teachers

ravenAK Fri 14-Dec-12 17:30:11

We really should let the recent changes 'bed in', & then consult with people who actually know about education as to what needs changing. It's fair to say that Gove can't claim to be one of them.

The main problem with GCSE was always coursework. Controlled Assessment has sorted that problem.

The exclusion of creative subjects from the Ebacc is a scandal.

There's only one reason not to actually take the time to get this right - & that's Michael Gove's plotting his leadership coup.

(Just chuck him & BoJo into a vat of shit & see which of them drowns the other...the Tories will presumably be quite happy with the survivor)

cricketballs Fri 14-Dec-12 18:00:52

Phineyj stated that there was no problem when she tool GCSEs in the 2nd year of conception - she should have taken them in the 1st year as I did.....specifications didn't come through until year 11 for some courses to the extent that we undertook the O level spec learning in computer studies and when the GCSE spec finally came through we had spent a year learning about things that were not on the spec and all our grades were increased as a result.

As a teacher I have major concerns on the following areas...

1) how does this qualification serve the entire student population? Through the dispiriting comments and discussions regarding vocational qualifications these no longer seem to be worthy and therefore those students who can not access these academic courses are going to be ignored and left without a qualification. These are the students who we should be looking to ensure that they can access education and therefore raise their expectations and push into worthwhile careers.

2) the subjects that have been included (and excluded) - times have changed and there needs to be a fully rounded eduction on offer which includes arts, technology, 21st century subjects rather than just relying on the traditional.

3) the speed in which these changes are happening - we are having to teach to a new spec/assessment basis for the current year 10s and these changes have not yet been evaluated but we are expected to change again.

4) not all children learn in the same way - this method of final exam only does not suit all students so those who 'freeze' in an exam, those who work best through completing research rather than a memory test are going to be disadvantaged - exams are not how the working world works

lljkk Fri 14-Dec-12 18:13:01

It seems like the new EB is being rushed in, and the rush itself will cause havoc.

It's very fashionable to proclaim that education standards & results are falling. Which is supposed to be the impetus behind the "new" English Baccaulaurate.

I'm not saying results aren't falling, but truth is I don't KNOW if they are. Just because there's a perception that they're in decline doesn't make it remotely true. I'd like to see objective evidence using a variety of indicators.

And then I'd like to see evidence that the proposed new EB was the right way to redress the deficiencies.

I know that evidence is used to set policy with regards to reducing carbon emissions, or deciding which medical treatments are cost effective. Please link to the evidence that the new EB is the right way to raise education standards.

And then I'll have a clue what I think.

ravenAK Fri 14-Dec-12 18:21:12

That too, lljkk.

Give me an actual draft spec for my subject & I may well find myself looking at it & thinking: 'well, that's actually do-able...'. & as a Dept. we can start divvying up the work required to get new Schemes of Learning & resources in place.

'We're gonna throw everything out & replace it with something brilliant, honestly, it'll be rigorous & awesome, promise, but it currently only exists on the back of an envelope somewhere in the Goviot's study' doesn't fill me with confidence, tbh.

Solopower1 Fri 14-Dec-12 18:23:41

I would like a system in which each year had end of year exams (tests/coursework as deemed appropriate) set by each school.
At the end of your school career you'd get a School Leaving Certificate, which had your six end of year results on it, (plus maybe a character reference from a teacher, and possibly a short statement of your out of school activities etc), but otherwise just certified that you had attended high school for six years.

Now here's what I'd really like to see: Universities, colleges and big companies would set their own entrance exams - as they do in some other countries. It would be so much simpler! You'd apply to a uni, take their exam (or jump through whatever hoops they put in front of you). No UCAS, no clearing, no first choice, second choice, no statements ... No more league tables !!! Bliss.

So there would be no way of comparing the academic standards of two young people who went to different schools - because actually, we don't need to do that. All businesses and unis need to know is whether a prospective candidate is up to doing what the uni/company wants them to do. Smaller companies could also set some test or other - and these could be standardised within sectors.

The system we have now perpetuates social inequality, and I think the one I have described above would be much fairer (without penalising high-fliers in any way) and give a 6-year perspective on a child's work, not just a snap shot at ages 16/18.

Solopower1 Fri 14-Dec-12 18:24:59

Sorry - I know we're supposing to be discussing the government's proposals, but couldn't resist airing my plan to change the world.

As you were.

louloutheshamed Fri 14-Dec-12 18:25:35

Raven I strongly disagree that controlled assessment has sorted the problem
of coursework! Controlled assessments are ime a horrible halfway house between Cw and exam, and are vulnerable to abuse and cheating. They remove the opportunity to use afl techniques and for students to reflect upon feedback and improve their work. I think for some courses 100% is the only fair method of assessment.

ravenAK Fri 14-Dec-12 18:32:28

They work for us loulou - we teach the analytical skills they need, teach the content as you would for an exam, & let them loose.

They get no shortage of afl in the lead-up; we do no end of practice mini-CAs, in class & for H/W, so the only difference in the actual CA is the exam conditions, really, & the length of piece expected.

We also give them detailed feedback on each CA, both summative & formative, which obviously informs their next CA.

I suppose it depends to an extent on the subject - good for Eng/Lit, not so great for Classics, in my teaching experience... - so yes there may well be courses in which 100% terminal assessment is better.

Just not all of them, & definitely not mine!

EvilTwins Fri 14-Dec-12 19:13:35

I teach Performing Arts, and am outraged that Gove thinks neither Drama nor Music are worthy of a spot in his new curriculum.

I agree with Cricket and Raven. IMO, the pace of change is ridiculous - we need to be able to deal with current changes and evaluate whether or not they are effective before throwing it all out and changing again.

We are in danger of creating a generation of kids who will leave school with qualifications that employers are baffled by - how does that help?

titchy Fri 14-Dec-12 20:22:34

I'm not convinced you need the EBC at all. I think most employers and colleges are perfectly capable of reading an application form and working out whether the applicant has the required number of GCSEs or not!

I actually quite like GCSEs. There is no deciding in year 9 which level a child should study at like there was with O levels and CSEs - that decision (which in reality is what higher and foundation equates to) can be left till the day of the exam I believe.

The only reason EBC and EBac have been conjured up is to stop schools making kids do 'equivalent' quals. it's merely been introduced to enable schools to be quantitatively compared to each other ,not because its particularly meaningful as a qualification/group of qualifications.

Remove the alternative quals and the problem of dumbing down is removed . Except of course that's not how the free market in exams works....

I'd also like GCSES to be marked the way O levels were bit I guess that's a bit too controversial even for Gove!

EvilTwins Fri 14-Dec-12 20:27:58

Titchy, whilst I agree with a lot of what you say, I do despise the view that "equivalents" = dumbing down. I teach BTEC and GCSE performing arts. I teach both the old and the new BTEC spec- the new is supposed to be more rigorous than the old. The thing is, the old BTEC involves at least 4x as much work as the GCSE I teach. Also, everything the kids do counts- much more like real life.

KelleStarOfWonder Fri 14-Dec-12 20:45:23

like cricketballs and phiney say, I just can't see it being the one qualification that works for all. It is great for those of an academic mindset, it's challenging enough and provides a good grounding. But what about those that are less academic, or are more into the creative arts? They seem to loose out entirely.

I feel that the eBacc is about making students more academically prepared for University, but we've got to remember that University isn't for all.

I think there should be a range of qualifications available to students, that covers all students and their future choices.

like lljkk says it feels rushed. They've known for a long time that GCSE's need to be replaced/revamped, it seemed that they were pouring their efforts into the Diploma's [which seem to have slipped by the way as such] but have since tried to put their efforts into the eBacc now. It just seems like they are trying too hard to make the shoe fit on the ugly sisters.

I am looking at this from my previous job as a University Admissions Officer.

SuffolkNWhat Fri 14-Dec-12 21:08:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chloe74 Fri 14-Dec-12 21:23:11

I agree with purits that schools need to get used to change and similarly don't understand why teachers are so immutable. Consultation is NUT code for shouting down this reform and setting it up to fail. Blair acknowledged he should have gone 'faster and further' on school reform and this government should not end with the same regret.

Its very obvious that a lot of posts here are politically motivated and left wing bias. Please stop, we need to reform the system to get a better education for our children. The answer is simple, let all schools teach what they want and we will see what parents really think is important and what is best for future employment.

As Phineyj suggests one exam for all abilities is ridiculous, the government do actually know this but until we get politics out of education we will never get a system where different abilities are stretched appropriately. And that cant happen until parents accept that not all children can win first prize.

Get on with reform and stop this nonsense talking shop aka consultation.

SuffolkNWhat Fri 14-Dec-12 21:52:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chloe74 Fri 14-Dec-12 21:59:23

Still don't get why arts feel excluded, this is about academic subjects not artistic ones. Maybe an EBaccArt, would make everyone feel included? but then when do you stop. EBacchairextensions?

EvilTwins Fri 14-Dec-12 22:15:07

Chloe, what a ridiculously condescending post.

chloe74 Fri 14-Dec-12 22:24:32

EvilTwins, you have a very bias opinion, and for a teacher your very offensive.

Tinuviel Fri 14-Dec-12 22:27:21

I think we need to revamp the whole 14-18 system to be honest. As education (in some form or another) is going to be compulsory to 18, why not let young people choose their route at 14. They could opt for 4 years academic subjects with a view to going to university; 4/5 years of some academic learning with a skills-based education as well, which would enable them to enter a specific career or go onto university; or do a 1 year course of English/maths/ICT and lifeskills, followed by a 3 year apprenticeship which would enable them to go into a specific career.

This is how I remember it working when I was in Austria - so for example they had a fashion college where at 19 they came out with a 'Matura' which enabled uni entry and a ladies/men's tailoring qualification. I seem to remember there was a business school/engineering/ICT/nursery teacher amongst other things. So if you weren't sure whether uni was for you, you could learn a specific 'trade' but keep your options open.

NewFerry Fri 14-Dec-12 22:28:07

I have a son at RG uni, and I work in an IT environment where colleagues are taking professional exams, plus I work in the finance department and am taking accountancy exams. In each case, a student does a module of work, and is then tested on it. The is how it works in the real world. Ths is how universities test and accredit students.
In my opinion, a return to a final exam, at the end of two years, is a retrograde step. In practice I guess it will mean some topics will not be tested at all.
In an office or project setting, an individual will be given a task and will access appropriate resources, inc colleagues expertise, and written and IT resources, to produce a piece of work. Yet we are now saying that controlled assessments are somehow not quite up to standard!

My final point will be to say that unless you work in teaching, or have had a son/daughter actually go through the GCSE and A level process, then you really have no idea how hard students work to get good results.

EvilTwins Fri 14-Dec-12 22:32:20

Chloe "For a teacher your very offensive" Really? What's offensive about pointing out that your post was condescending? It was. And perhaps I am bias*ed*, but I have spent the last 15 years seeing how much The Arts can enrich the life if young people. Why would I support those subjects being sidelined?

chloe74 Fri 14-Dec-12 22:46:54

Tinuviel - completely agree

NewFerry - Your right but you don't address the issue which plagues the education system. Modular courses, course work, endless resits etc etc over the years have been been plagued with schools finding ways to 'cheat' the system. It is advantageous for teachers to help children to beat the current system,which is the opposite of the real world in work.

I don't doubt children work very hard at GCSE's, no one is questioning that. But that has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the GCSE's.

Evil - you have been rude to me on many posts, but I wont get into that here. My post was not intended to be condescending, I was trying to make a point. I apologize if you were offended. Yes you are bias and you never minimize that in your comments. No-one is suggesting Art is being minimized, that is just political fiction. I have seen Carpentry, Maths, Language ... and many subjects transform peoples lives, what is your point about Art other than a bias?

EvilTwins Fri 14-Dec-12 22:51:50

Chloe- Arts subjects have simply not been mentioned by Gove as part of his new plans, which leads me to worry that they will be sidelined. Naturally I am concerned, because that's what my job is. I do, however, think it would be a sad day if arts subjects left the secondary curriculum.

SuffolkNWhat Fri 14-Dec-12 22:54:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NewFerry Fri 14-Dec-12 23:00:27

For a great many students if you do not try arts at school, you will never get to try them.
If you don't try them, you can't properly appreciate them.
If you can't appreciate art, drama and music then you will struggle to make sense of life's important questions, and will have a reduced life experience sad

purits Fri 14-Dec-12 23:21:39

Schools will not spend money on resourcing subjects that play no part in league tables. Sad but true.

This is half the problem. When languages were not 'measured' a lot of schools dopped them; now they are part of the EBacc schools are desperately trying to recruit MFL teachers.
If schools concentrated on giving a good, rounded education instead of massaging performance figures then Gove's EBacc would never have been needed. The teaching profession brought it on themselves.

chloe74 Fri 14-Dec-12 23:32:50

EvilTwin - I agree Arts subjects have not been mentioned, why do you conclude that they will be sidelined? I would completely support a campaign to keep the arts if I believed they weren't going to be available to my children but this debate is about academic subjects not art subjects.

This is not meant to be a factious comment but if I complained that Gove wasn't forcing MTV to show more Science programs would I sound silly? I send my son to a private 'arts' class and because his school is useless at this, but its a completely separate point to academic provision. Your reasoning does not lead to your conclusion.

SuffolkNWhat - It does not follow that any subject not included in the EBacc will be excluded from the curriculum. We need an intelligent debate!!!

Newferry - Most kids try arts at primary, it seems to be what they spend most of their time doing, so its hardly neglected. It would be nice if all children could try all subjects but you have to be realistic, but not everyone will make a living banging an African drum. There are many things children are taught that mess up their chances of making sense of life's important questions but we feel obliged to force personal views on them... I wish it were otherwise.

NonnoMum Sat 15-Dec-12 00:01:17

Be careful about the erosion of the arts; drama, art, dance, music etc in the curriculum. The state schools will be left with the prescriptive curriculum, whilst all the privileged children in the private schools will be flying in the cultural experiences of putting on plays, playing music to an audience developing their confidence, thriving and celebrating life-enhancing experiences whilst our kids will be league-table chasing and drilled to become call centre fodder.
I shit you not.

chloe74 Sat 15-Dec-12 01:34:09

hmmm ... of all the possibilities, I doubt that state school will be the last bastion of Science and all the private schools will migrate to liberal arts. I doubt that VERY much.

noblegiraffe Sat 15-Dec-12 02:02:08

I am utterly appalled that Gove plans to introduce a raft of new qualifications without any pilot study beforehand to see if they are fit for purpose or not. In maths I can think of a few qualifications that have been piloted and found wanting (e.g. compulsory stand alone functional maths, linked pair) so not rolled out across the board, so it's not simply a fact that you can get these things right first go. And the changes that he wants to make (80% of students all sitting the same exam) sound like a potential for disaster.

VioletStar Sat 15-Dec-12 05:51:54

What I don't get is the old 'teachers should live in the real world' bit. What world do you think teachers inhabit? They don't live at school. They have lives, families, friends and, guess what? They have children too that will be affected.

Secondly, if you think teachers don't deal with change then clearly you haven't been paying attention every time a new Sec of State is appointed. They all have made changes and teachers have to deal with that. Allied to that is the fact that teachers, like me, are constantly making changes because I want to make my lessons better, accessible, relevant and current. I want to prepare my students to love my subject but also to see that they have transferable skills to the workplace.

Finally, what is the problem with consultation? We are there day in, day out and presumably that gives us a bit more insight into what is workable. Not do as we say, but ask us for input. No other profession has such wholesale changes imposed on such a regular basis with no consultation (maybe NHS?).

The majority of teachers I have worked with in the past 20 years are there, and stay there, because we love working with kids and bringing out the best in them. (Yes, there are a few who are there as they see it as an easy gig, but they don't last). We care about the kids we teach and we care about education. Can you say that about some of the people who are making and imposing the changes without prior investigation, consultation and trialling?

Amblin Sat 15-Dec-12 07:03:59

I think my sons doing it already. In not sure. That's shit, isn't it

gazzalw Sat 15-Dec-12 07:14:53

A secondary school education should embrace all subjects including music, art and RE and I say that as someone who didn't relish lessons in art or music. I think RE is actually quite a rigorous subject, if taught properly, and is the closest to philosophical thought that most school children will get at school.

I am not sure that I feel fully briefed on the proposed EB but my DS will be in the first cohort to do those exams. But from what I know if it (it's more exam based isn't it?) I think it will suit my DS more than GCSEs with their emphasis on course work. DS is clever and likes exams but he's not the diligent pupil who will ever spend hours fine-honing a piece of work. It may be that it suits boys more than girls (who do tend to be more diligent and perfectionists) and there may well be a turnaround in girls' outstripping boys in their exam results.

If I understand correctly the EB also includes a core of subjects. Well when we went to grammar school it was a given that we had to study a science, history and/or geography, maths, English Language and Literature and a modern language. That is a robust spread of subjects. I have no problem with that system at all.

I do admit though that I'm only thinking about this for my own relatively bright children and if I had non-academic ones I am sure I might have a totally different view of the proposed EB.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Sat 15-Dec-12 08:26:37

My DD is is year 9 and a lot of parents I know are totally confused and not aware that year 9s are doing GCSE's that are different to the ones year 11's are doing . When you say about the changes most assume it's the Gove Level, look lightly puzzled and mutter about 2015. Mention linear GCSE's and there's a puzzled look and 'I can't keep up with all of this'. I was also under the impression they would be only able to do their exams at the end of year 11 but that's not right is it ?

Whilst I agree changes need to be made, what is the point of changing the existing GCSE's for two years then not evaluating the effects of the changes and bringing in something different? It paints a picture of Gove as highly ineffectual, not concerned with the effects of changes he is making and rushing through as much as he can whilst he can, destroying any credibility he might have had.

Also agree about the arts inevitably being shouldered out as state schools only concentrate on those subjects that will be assessed and therefore affect their ratings. DD has been covering philosophy in RE and is looking forward to Ethics. She isn't hugely academic but really enjoying RE at the moment, has been asked to consider taking Art for GCSE and really working hard at the moment. DS is 5 years behind her and very good at Maths and science so changes are the right way round for my family but that's not the point.

FWIW I did O Levels at a Grammar and came out with decent grades but worked nowhere near as hard as my friend's Year 11 DD is currently doing, it's been a real eye opener.

sashh Sat 15-Dec-12 08:31:10

Remove the alternative quals and the problem of dumbing down is removed

What makes you think the alternatives are dumbing down? I think the Royal College of Music is quite capable of creating an exam.

I teach (well not working so I supose taught) health and social care BTEC L1, L2, L3.

IMHO BTEC is a far better prep for something like nursing than A Levels. The units include things like being able to wash your hands properly to research using Harvard referencing, equality and diversity. In most FE colleges it also includes a work placement.

So who is better prepared to start nursing degree from these two?

A Level Biology, Sociology, Art

BTEC National HSC
2 years work experience
practical skills
reseach skills

And these qualifications are not new, BTEC National used to be ONC, HNC/HNDs are not new, my grandfather studied and achieved HND in the 1950s.

Muminwestlondon Sat 15-Dec-12 08:40:03

To answer the opening post..

I am a parent with two teenage girls. One at a superselective, one at a leading comprehensive school. I do think the changes are being rushed through but I really don't think that a petition is going to make a jot of difference. Industrial action by teachers might, but that will probably only delay matters and wrest minor concessions.

I think the EB stinks. If schools want to teach the IB, fine it is up to them. I think schools should have a choice.

I think the make up of subjects is ridiculous. E.g. Are you really going to force a severely dyslexic child to spend a few miserable years attempting to learn a foreign language and failing badly? Though I personally am an atheist, I think RE is a robust enough subject to qualify as an humanity. I think music should also qualify quite frankly.

I think that children do too many subjects and GCSEs should be restricted to 8 or 9. If that leads to a child dropping humanities or two sciences at 14 to specialise in say art or music, it should be up to them. That happened in my day.

I do not want to return to the nasty divisive pre GCSE system we had of O' levels and CSEs. I went to grammar school and did O' levels. You are kidding yourself if you think they are superior to GCSE. Having a daughter who did 11 GCSEs last summer gaining A*/A in all, I think GCSEs are more rigourous. The reason children get top grades is because they are extremely well taught. Don't bleat on about dumbing down and teaching to the exam. What is wrong with teaching to the exam, it is designed to test the knowledge accrued over the course after all. In DD's school which is a super-selective they go above and beyond the National Curriculum. I also have a child at a comprehensive, children there can also achieve top grades if they are able enough, the teaching is superb.

My personal preference is for terminal exams in subjects, however I can see why some people prefer modular exams and controlled assessments and I think schools should be free to decide what is best for them based on their intake.

I think all public exams should be sat in year 11, though there is nothing wrong with able children sitting one or two (i.e. maths or English language) in year 10.

I can say with absolute certainty that there is no cheating in controlled assessments at DD's school based on what she has told me. Now she is doing A' levels the teachers have made it blatantly clear, they are not going to be spoon fed or given much help with course work and they have to work it out for themselves. It is a fucking insult to the majority of teachers to call them cheats.

lougle Sat 15-Dec-12 08:58:10

sashh, all nursing students need to be able to wash their hands, but they also need a good grasp of maths (for drug calculations, drip rates, etc.) and not just whole numbers, but decimals. That sounds silly, but a misplaced decimal can have tragic consequences. Don't forget, also, that we aren't talking about exam conditions, but a busy ward with buzzers going off, patients calling out, telephones ringing, possibly in the early hours of the morning after 8 hours on duty.

Nurses need a grasp of biological concepts, so that they can assess their patient's condition. They need to understand, for example, how hydration will affect blood pressure, which will in turn impact on heart rate.

Nurses need a good grasp of English and must be able to record notes succinctly and clearly, in such a way that they may be referred to in court up to 21 years later (the clock for medical negligence starts ticking at 18 years old for children).

Knowing how to wash your hands is not going to get you far, and most prospective nursing students will (should) have got some experience before applying.

cricketballs Sat 15-Dec-12 09:14:19

in relation to the GCSE v BTEC argument I teach both so feel that I can give an opinion based on fact surrounding this.

The reason that BTECs are thought to be easier is that they are based 100% on coursework which can be continuously improved until it reaches the required standard which allows for students who 'don't get it' the first time to work and work with feedback on their every step until they do 'get it'. This does not mean it is easier just different from a memory test.

For example, BTEC Level 2 Business requires students to create a profit and loss account, cash flow forecast, break even chart and balance sheet to gain a pass in one unit. In order to achieve a merit criterion they then have to analyse the importance of these financial tools for a manager. The Distinction then pushes them to evaluate fully (with references and using 'real accounts') these. This means that if the accounts are incorrect, they can then go back and correct them. If they have missed an area in their analysis I can feedback that this is the case and they can then re-write this. This is not easier infact it is harder then the GCSE; just different.

The GCSE only requires them to be able to complete a very simple profit/loss account if they are tested on it at the end of year 11.

Which skills are going to be used within the workplace - a memory test or the ability to go back and improve, the ability to research, the ability to analyse using tools and guidance

SantasBitch Sat 15-Dec-12 09:28:56

Oh enough already with all these exams - GCSE at 16, AS level at 17 and A level at 18. Which other country does this? Embrace the IB (or a version of) and put an end to all of this exam madness. If the school leaving age is 18, surely this makes GCSE and AS level redundant - or would do, if children followed a broader curriculum until age 18. My two are in the IB system and will stay there - no "grade inflation", a qualification that is recognised world wide, no nonsense of specialising in 3 or 4 subjects at 16. My A level choices were just plain wrong - hindsight is a marvellous thing to have, but who knows, really, what they want to do at age 16?

AViewfromtheFridge Sat 15-Dec-12 09:38:47

I'm an English teacher. This is my fifth year, and in that time I've had to learn and teach six different specifications (Lang and Lit, so three lots of changes). Absolutely agree that it devalues what has gone before.

Also, when change is pushed through too quickly, there are so many things that suffer. When the new spec came out in 2010, we were floundering in the dark. Text books were full of errors, people and reports from the exam board contradicted each other at every turn, and no one had any idea what each grade looked like, particularly at the top end. And we were a pilot school, so had a couple of years on everyone else. Results this summer were crazy - I had sett 3 of 8, target grades mainly B with a few As. About half of them got A*s in Lit, many with full marks on one paper. Now, this sounds great for them (and looks great for me), but never in a month of Sundays were some of them A* kids.

You may use this as "proof" that the system needs changing, but the same thing will happen again if reform is poorly consulted and implemented too quickly.

The vast majority of the children I teach work so hard and care so much about their future; any reform that is implemented for the political gain of an individual is doing them a disservice. The thing that makes me rage the most is that Gove's rhetoric about falling standards has at its centre a study that has been discredited - here.

I love my job. I love being in the classroom, I love it when children finally "get" stuff, I love it when we argue about what a poem means or why characters behave in a certain way, I love it when a lesson about a persuasive leaflet becomes a whole-class debate about smoking or animal cruelty or derogatory terms that are peculiarly feminine.

What I do not love is changing goalposts. As someone has already said, how children will be terminally assessed completely changes the way in which we teach them, from Year 7 onwards. This is not dumbing down, or teaching to the test, but it would be nice to be confident about how my lovely, hard-working Year 7s will ultimately be assessed.

With regard to the arts, of course they're rigorous. I have no idea why Gove appears to be so opposed to them. A comparison to hair extensions is puerile and ignorant, in the truest sense. We often compare our results to those of RE, as many of the skills are the same. If we were to lose these subjects, we would be cheating our children of an appreciation of culture - you only need to look at the opening ceremony of the Olympics to see how much talent there is in this country. And of course state schools would be the ones to suffer the most, as the cultural subjects will lose time in order to concentrate on the ones which "count", league table wise.

Finally, chloe74, clearly you and I are ideologically opposed in our views on education. That is fine. However, if you want to be taken seriously, I suggest you learn the difference between your and you're. This might help!

Solopower1 Sat 15-Dec-12 10:03:37

Great posts, Violetstar, Newferry and AView - but your last sentence was unnecessary imo.

I disagree with Chloe too, but would rather challenge her views than her grammar.

lljkk Sat 15-Dec-12 10:05:10

but we have to have constantly changing goalposts to "raise standards"; it's a mantra for our age. (sigh).

the BTEC approach sounds great to me, for teaching many things.

LadyLetch Sat 15-Dec-12 10:45:49

I am happy for there to be changes, but am deeply unhappy with the nature that Gove is rushing them through without proper thought.

I find it interesting that OFQUAL oppose the speed of changes and have grave concerns, the exam board I work for express concerns, I see the voice for businesses in this country have expressed their concerns. I've recently read a letter from 22 university lecturers (in education) expressing their concerns, my teaching union have concerns as do most teachers I know.

To press ahead in the face of these concerns (and to refuse to share these concerns in parliamentary select committee) and then to say that he will overrule OFQUAL's concerns is pure madness. I cannot see how anyone can defend this.

gelo Sat 15-Dec-12 11:11:46

I think it all seems rather rushed and ill thought through and I feel that tightening up the existing system would probably be a better way to go.

I've had two dc go through GCSE reasonably recently and haven't thought there that bad - certainly not bad enough to need scrapping. The current model of either 0%, 25% or 60% controlled assessment seems OK at least for the 0% and 25% subjects - some subjects (geography, science) really do need a bit of assessed practical work for which CAs work well, but maybe some tightening up of how they are managed would be good. The subjects that have 60% CA (languages, english language) are the ones where it doesn't seem to work so well - perhaps the way forward is to reduce these to 25% (spoken language would seem to need school involvement at least, but doing the written test as a CA hasn't worked at all well imo). Having higher and foundation level differentiated on many exams seems wise too.

Rather than scrap GCSEs they should be revised a little where needed. Remove some CAs, but keep them where useful. Reduce substantially the number of specifications/boards per subject (this seems much better for levelling, though there are issues of expertise that Ofqual has raised, so maybe a single board per subject is too few). Keep the current foundation/higher tier in most exams - I share Ofqual's concerns that a single paper to test the whole ability range will be insufficient, especially in some subjects. With the move away from modular already happening it should be possible to reduce the number of exams in some subjects too.

AViewfromtheFridge Sat 15-Dec-12 11:35:40

Good point Gelo. Or perhaps controlled assessments could be marked externally, if they're so worried about teachers "cheating".

Solopower, I know - totally lost the moral high ground. Especially as my phone auto corrected set to sett!

Phineyj Sat 15-Dec-12 12:12:55

I don't object to the philosophical aspects of RS/RE at all - as other posters have pointed out, they are good for the intellect, transferable, teach about culture etc. They are also excellent for vocabulary, spelling and debating skills.

What I object to is the 'Christians believe this, Muslims believe that' aspect of the RS course where it's not permitted (let's be honest), to discuss the down side of religious belief - the sexism, the patriarchy, the justification for customs and practices that have no place in C21st Britain - and that the course is compulsory.

Also just wanted to say that all these 'Bacc' terms currently being floated around by the coalition are not the same as the International Baccalaureate (IB) which is a rigorous sixth form level qualification that has been available in the UK since the 70s as an alternative to A level. It includes a compulsory Philosophy option, Theory of Knowledge, in which religious beliefs can be discussed (but do not have to be).

Leafmould Sat 15-Dec-12 15:40:36

Going back to what titchy said:

Schools do not decide the day before the exam what level of gcse a child will sit. This is decided by streaming from year 7. Many children are only taught the syllabus for the basic papers which will get them the maximum of a d result.

So I agree with the previous poster that gcse's have got their problems, and the system of streaming, examinations and gcse's does not promote mobility for the late developer.

There are so many ways to teach. I am not convinced that ebacc will change anything for lower achieving pupils who do not concentrate easily, and struggle with basic skills and learning skills. While I do believe it is important to have a system which gives opportunities to high achieving kids, surely any major changes need to improve education for the kids who get very little out of it currently.

Leafmould Sat 15-Dec-12 15:41:12

And while their are grammar pedants online, is it gcse's or gcses?

noblegiraffe Sat 15-Dec-12 15:50:35

Leafmould, I don't think there are any GCSE papers that restrict pupils to a maximum of a D grade any more, the one in maths was scrapped 5 or 6 years ago, and certainly which paper will be sat isn't decided in Y7. Kids may be set in Y7 but they can usually move up and down sets throughout school, depending on how they're getting on. Borderline pupils who look like they have a shot at a higher grade can still change tier of entry very close to the exam. It is fairly common to have classes where some pupils will sit the higher paper and some the foundation paper depending on which will best suit the pupil.

Solopower1 Sat 15-Dec-12 16:13:38


MayaAngelCool Sat 15-Dec-12 16:38:02

Chloe, you write like someone who understands very little about the arts and rarely, if ever, engages with them. I say this as an observation, not a criticism. I strongly suspect that Gove et al are coming from the same perspective.

Art (in all its forms) serves to enrich, reflect on, critique, challenge, inspire, humour and entertain society. It can and at times it does level harsh, direct criticism at politicians and those in power in a way that factual presentation cannot - it's the difference between South Park criticising Scientology and a public speaker doing the same. Which would you rather watch? Which would you most likely subsequently remember? Can you imagine the paucity of a life without the functions I listed at the start of this paragraph - enrichment, reflection, etc? Socrates himself said that the unexamined life is a life not worth living.

Why do we think totalitarian regimes typically lock up artists of all genres? Not because they dislike their painting style or vocal timbre, but because their work has the power to level direct challenges at the status quo. Fela Kuti was repeatedly beaten and his mother killed by the Nigerian government of the time because he threw continual challenges against the evil of corruption in his homeland. Incidentally he was sent to London as a medical student, then skipped over to Trinity College of Music because he knew he was 'meant' to be not a doctor, but an artist. Some people are meant to be city traders, some scientists, some artists. We cannot force square pegs into round holes, and should not force them out of square holes.

Remember the protest songs of the 1970s? The way that songwriting and community singing become an automatic and essential mode of creating social glue during civil rights demonstrations across the world? I am listing just a few examples of the way that art has the power to act as a catalyst for societal and individual transformation.

As well as that, the arts are playful, and it is this ability to play, reflect and seek inspiration which gives humans the ability to advance society and technology. Without the lengthy playful childhoods we enjoy, we would struggle to develop computers, brick-laying techniques and new methods of weaving cloth. Let alone all the other things humans have invented.

It is naive and ignorant to claim that the arts have less value than other subjects or career options. Society is like a human body - we may dislike our toes or regard our earlobes as less important than our fingers. But the whole body works at its best and is its most healthy and balanced when we care for it all.

By sidelining the arts, our beloved Coalition is once again, as in so many other aspects of policy, betraying its naivety and ignorance. Rash decisions frequently lead to impoverished decision-making - is that what we want for our children's future? I seriously, seriously doubt this government's competence to improve life in this country.

nickymanchester Sat 15-Dec-12 17:50:24

I think that both Muminwestlondon in her post at 08:40 and gelo in her post at 11:11 sum up a lot of my feelings on the subject so I won't repeat it here.

However, one point that doesn't really get spoken about much - or maybe I've just missed it - is what are these exams actually for?

I think, basically, you want two very different things from these exams:-

1 - To show what ''objective'' standard or criteria have been reached

2 - To differentiate between students when they are applying for higher or further education.

One, above, is essentially a school leaving certificate. I am rather ambivalent about a leaving certificate, however, as I would undoubtedly never have got one - I was rubbish at French at school. As others have said, I really don't see the benefit of it; employers are quite capable of looking at individual GCSE results.

Number two, above, is where I feel the current system has problems, especially with a grading system that has to cover the entire range of performance at 16, not just grade those that are looking to go into further or higher education.

I presume that this may well annoy a lot people, but I would suggest that an exam that is designed to cover the entire range of abilities at 16 does not, currently, do a good job of discriminating solely amongst the group of children that are considering further or higher education.

As long as further and higher education is not universal then there is always going to be selection and differentiation required. This is where I believe that a normative assessment dimension is required as well as the ''objective'' criteria.

Whether this is done by giving the percentile achieved, or some other means, I certainly don't have the perfect answer. However, this would give the finer levels of discrimination required for FE and HE entry without having the problem of having two different levels of exam or relegating those with lower levels of achievement to being ''failures'' if they still manage to meet the set criteria.

To the people that say that normative assessment cannot be used as you cannot compare one year to another, I would suggest that this is ludicrous.

You are attempting to say that there are statistically significant differences in the intelligence and amount of work done in their school career between children currently in Year 11 and those that were in Year 11 say two years ago. While this may possibly be true in individual schools, to try and say it is true across the whole country is clearly ridiculous.

Finally, to the person who said they had an easy time at university and then just crammed in the last month and still got a 2.1, well, I'm happy for you. But, I had to work damn hard for my degree.

Personally, I feel that people like this are as bad as those that say that GCSEs are dumbed down now compared to O levels. To imply that we were all like this is as much a disservice to any debate as talking of dumbed down GCSEs

Rowlers Sat 15-Dec-12 19:12:39

Consultation HAS to happen, surely.
Bringing in a new system without discussing it with the people doing the job day in, day out is lunacy.
Teachers WANT their students to do well, to become well-rounded, balanced, open-minded, inquisitive people equipped to enter the world of work and adapt to whatever it throws at them. Everything schools do is to this end.
Why Gove thinks he knows better is completely beyond me but then I find the man loathesome and not just regarding his views on education.
With regard to a replacement for GCSEs - any new qualification needs to reflect the talents of each student. It should allow students to show what they can do, reflecting both their inate ability and the sheer hard work they have put in to their studies. How best to do this I'm not sure about, but I'm puzzled why Gove thinks that excluding certain subjects is a positive move forward. Surely the ECM policy should also apply to qualifications? The Ebacc seems to suggest that some students are more worthy than others. And clearly that's worrying.

BadMissM Sat 15-Dec-12 19:30:03

My daughter's school is piloting the EBacc. We've had so little information about it, and it limits the number of subjects she can take. So far, it appears to offer even less options than I had at school...

noblegiraffe Sat 15-Dec-12 19:46:48

badmiss I think you must be getting confused between the EBCs (also confusingly referred to as Ebacc) which are to be the new qualification which will replace GCSEs and be Ebacc which is a name given to a certain selection of academic GCSEs. The new qualification couldn't possibly be piloted yet because they don't even know what it will be yet. The current Ebacc is simply a measure for the league tables which Gove hopes will force more students to take his favoured subjects at GCSE.

mam29 Sat 15-Dec-12 22:12:00

intrigued why if ib exists as purpose built system why we just dont adopt that.

my local academy does ib but 6th form not at gcse level..

hats diffrence between gcses and i gcses?

does every european country have its own exam qualification or do many do the same . how does system work in france?

I thourght ebac as going to be balanced beteen humanities, arts and languages.

Dont scotland have different system to us and works well.

I belive the welsh have a welsh bac.

mam29 Sat 15-Dec-12 22:17:05

interesting as outlines what welsh bac is outcomes and and reveiws on its success are mixed with some unis not accepting it.wonder if the ebac be very similar

mam29 Sat 15-Dec-12 22:28:20

after reading this article think ould like my kids to do middle years ib.
no fiddling from either political party
no grade inflation
highly respected accross the world and by unis.

just shame only private sectors able to take advantage of it.

the i includes arts where as ebac does not

MayaAngelCool Sat 15-Dec-12 22:50:35

Mam, I suspect the reason why the ibac is not being proposed (which would save a hell of a lot of money rather than creating a new system from scratch - might be useful in times of recession, eh, GoveyBoy?) is that Michael Gove is hoping for personal glory.

mam29 Sun 16-Dec-12 07:50:21

yes possibly just seems daft

reason we calling it the bacc-cynical me reckons its rigeour through association people may be confuse it with the i bac which is world recognised, respected be so much easier for pupils.

but reading about welsh bac dident enthuse me.

I do think we need a change from gcses.

i think an independant body of paremts, unis, employers, teachers to consult be best i wouldent want the nut a left wing political organisation dictating every detail of new qualification as i im not mistaking genuine concern with self interest.

did they already consult? what was outcome,

its also possibly my understanding that kids could take on additional subjects arts maybe.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sun 16-Dec-12 10:45:56

I want to know what will happen to DC's with SN's when these new qualifications come in. SA and SA+ will have disappeared by then, but those DC's SN's won't have disappeared.

Where are the vocational qualifications for them?

My DD is in Y10, and is doing Catering GCSE. She is doing very well in that subject, and the college that does the NVQ qualifications accepts that qualification as the equivalent to an NVQ level 2.

If there are no longer vocational qualifications, what do children like my DD do?

There is a place for a more rigorous qualification, for those DC's that manage it, but there should also be an alternative for those that can't.

It's not right to leave some children in a position where they are literally being made to turn up, sit in a classroom, not understanding what is being taught, knowing full well that they will be leaving without any qualifications at all.

How do these reforms benefit those DC's? How do they help them gain future employment?

Not everyone will be able to pass these new exams - my DD is working her socks off to bring her Maths GCSE grade up to a 'G'. She has dyscalculia, and it has been a long, hard slog for her to even understand the basics. And that is despite tons of extra input from LSA's. NOT everyone is academic.

The cynic in me believes this ties in with the Welfare reforms, trying to create a ready made pool of slave labour, who have no choice but to work in what are currently low-paid jobs for even less money, on Workfare.

If they have no qualifications, then they have no alternative but to claim benefits and be put on Workfare.

But I'm a cynic.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sun 16-Dec-12 11:07:46

Muminwestlondon - I agree wholeheartedly with you. My DD dropped MFL at the end of Y7, and used those timetables lessons to have Learning Support for her Maths and English.

When she started Y8, she was working on NC level 1 in Maths. She is now at a stage in Y10 where she is revising hard to try to get a 'G'. It may not sound like much, but for a severely dyslexic DC, it's amazing.

She can do fractions, decimals, simple algebra. She can weigh and measure and understand temperatures (which, ultimately, will be the most relevant parts of the Maths GCSE for her intended career.) She can use percentages, though not in her head.

I would far rather she had spent extra time doing what she has done, and become functional at a basic level in Maths, rather than learning a foreign language.

However, I would not be happy with the removal of vocational qualifications and the Arts from any future qualification, as it narrows the breadth of their knowledge.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Sun 16-Dec-12 11:24:17

The changes are actually the right way round for my first two DC's, my DD with SN's who suits the Current GCSE's with the ability to choose vocational qualifications, as well as a core of more academic subjects suits the current system, and my very Academic DS1 suits a more academic based set of qualifications.

What won't be much help is the fact that my DS2 also has SN's, and is just two years behind DS1.

DS1 goes into Y7 next year, he's currently in Y6, and will do brilliantly whatever the qualification is.

DS2, not so much! He is likely to want to sit more vocational qualifications, which more than likely will not be there by the time he gets to Y10 in September 2019.

Which means I can see both sides of the system.

Having DD and DS2, I can see that the need exists for some sort of vocational qualifications. They don't need to be 'equivalent' to GCSE's, and tbh nobody takes that seriously anyway.

All the 'vocational' qualifications I have had experience of are well designed, rigorous tests of knowledge required in that subject, and are often put together with the help of people working in those industries where they would be looking for that qualification too. They are as rigorous as GCSE's, and more so in many cases.

My DD does far more research, works far harder, and produces far more in depth work in subjects like Health and Social Care BTEC than I ever had to for GCSE's, and I was in the top sets for everything.

So I feel that there is still a place in the curriculum for vocational qualifications.

However, I would ALSO like a more rigorous exam than GCSE for the top sets, as that would benefit my DS1.

I just want BOTH, rather than all academic. Which is the system we have already, barring a more rigorous exam for the highest achievers academically.

chloe74 Sun 16-Dec-12 12:30:23

If consultation was anything like this discussion thread it would achieve nothing but waste lots of time, further disrupting children's education.

Consultation has taken place already, this is about more consultation.
Consultation advice does not have to be adopted. It would be crazy to implement everything everybody 'advised', this isn't the same as not listening.
It is ignorant to suggest the EBacc is developed on the back of an envelope.
Teachers admit they are used to change.
Teachers do mostly have the best interests of children at heart but lets not be naive and pretend they don't also have their own interests in mind as well.
Many improvements suggested to make the GCSE better could easily be included in the EBacc, the Exam/Curriculum is not starting from a blank slate, again to suggest otherwise is just ignorant ideology.
Whilst from a teachers point of view, thinking of an individual child, the GCSE might be worth saving. The government has to make decisions based on the whole system for the whole of the country considering national, international and business interests. What use is a GCSE if the country goes dogs and there are no jobs/investment or future for the next 100 years.
The EBacc will not be burdened with all the negative baggage the GCSE has.

For well over a decade as our education system was being devalued teaching Unions never once called for a strike to stop the Government changes. It would be hypocritical if they now do so, we live in a democracy and in the end it is teachers job to make it work even if they don't like it.

I have heard a lot of hysterical comments about Arts, Music etc being dropped from schools, I have not heard a single factual news story suggesting this is even being considered. What is wrong with giving parents choice, if they want their children to learn art at school they will be able to. Isn't that the situation as it is now.

I remember the EBacc was being considered along side another exam for less able children. Unfortunately it was the left wing liberals that stopped that and so the proposal was a compromise to accommodate more opinions. I would suggest if people don't like something they can vote differently at the next elections.

From my point of view a lot of posters here are what you would consider 'middle class'. So perhaps when you consider the thousands of youth and long term unemployed. More time spent on Maths, English, Science, and Language would improve their chances of getting work. Being able to play the recorder, watch South Park, or admire a picture are not critical skills. Of course selfish middle class parents want their children to learn the finer skills in life but its unfair to lie to working class families that it will help many of them get a job. What will help them is a core of Maths, English and Science so they can get employment.

Its debatable whether learning the history of the country you live in is necessary and as several posters have suggested RE provides good philosophical/ethical aspects. A better option would be to ditch the harmful decisive nature of religious education and make it a useful philosophy class, which would have more benefit to children's future.

And finally those posters use lack of punctuation or rude insults instead of reasoned arguments show just how ignorant they are. If you haven't anything intelligent to say, say nothing at all. Most of us here are adults who have made their choices and decided which direction their career is going. I learnt English to a very high standard when I was at school, I am not at school anymore, in a literary role or ever will be, therefore I have made the informed decision that many comma's/apostrophes are a waste of time and those who like to point that out are usually snob's.

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 13:40:11

chloe74 Don't you think it's a tad inconsistent to hold forth on the necessity of 'core skills' for employability when you then don't use them, though?

Anyway, that aside, you demonstrate with every post that you have very little understanding of how arts subjects work. Indeed, none of your arguments are substantiated by much beyond prejudice as far as I can see.

But perhaps I'm wrong & you are actually better informed than the teaching profession as to precisely what consultation has taken place re: reform to KS4 curriculum - reform which is not, in fact, opposed by any of the unions & which has been constantly in place, qv. the new specification GCSEs brought in in 2010.

Perhaps you'd like to share your knowledge: who has been consulted? How? When?

Solopower1 Sun 16-Dec-12 13:58:05

Why do you think teachers are so often disliked? Could it be that we are forever putting other people down? Why do we do it? Why oh why oh why ...

<Note to self: whenever I feel a put down coming on, stab self in eye with pencil.>

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 14:29:26

I've only got two eyes. They'd have to regenerate hourly if I spent much time on this thread. grin.

But yeah - I was probably quite sarky in tone to chloe74, for which I apologise if she's offended, but I do think she's spouting unmitigated piffle & needs to substantiate her assertions.

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Dec-12 14:49:20

Why is chloe banging on as if it is only teachers who are concerned about these changes, and that their concerns are merely cosmetic piffle designed simply to make their lives easier?

Many, many people, from many professional organisations and walks of life have expressed deep concerns about the proposals, including members of Gove's own party.

As for the assertion that it has not been simply drawn up on the back of an envelope - then where are the details? Why does no one seem to know what will happen to vocational subjects and the arts? Why does no one seem to know how an exam can be designed that will be both rigorous and accessible to 80% of the population? Why was the first that anyone, including many in the government heard about these proposals through a leak to the tabloids?

How can anyone be expected to have confidence in a massive change to the education system that is being so blatantly rushed through, presumably to meet a general election deadline?

chloe74 Sun 16-Dec-12 15:00:26

ravenAK - The core skills for a schoolchild is very different to those who have been employed for 30 years. “Learn the rules before you break them”, otherwise you will get stuck in the past.

I admit I am not an art teacher, but I am not prejudiced against it. Just because I do not understand the inner workings of an art curriculum does not mean I am not well informed on what is 'core' to business wanting to employ a sixteen year old. Business wants children who can read, write, count, think and learn, for the vast majority of employers it is not even on the radar how artistic a child is. Obviously teachers in specific subjects have rose-tinted spectacles, what this country is not short of is artists.

Perhaps it would help our country if teachers were required to work in the private sector for a few years before becoming teachers. This would give them a perspective on how hard it really is to get a real job, what skills/qualifications are actually needed to be employable and how badly our education system has let us down.

When talking about consultation I was referring to the OP, which states it wants more consultation on top of what has already taken place. Perhaps someone here works in the Education dept and can actually confirm that no consultation has/is taking place. If not then teachers here can only claim that they have not personally be consulted. Which isn't that surprising.

noblegiraffe - Just because we do not know all the detail does not mean they do not exist. More power to Gove that he doesn't have the verbal diarrhea of other politicians. I imagine we will get more details when we get them and then we can have a factual argument instead of this constant diatribe by people dismissing the concept for fictional reasons.

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 15:13:21

Chloe74 - Your first paragraph is actually quite accurate. The core of a GCSE level education is far in excess of that accessed by most of those who left education 30 years ago.

Prior to teaching, I worked in the private sector for over a decade, firstly in music promotion & then owning & running a pub/restaurant. I'm quite au fait with the skills needed to be employable, honestly.

'I imagine we will get more details' - but what you 'imagine' isn't really relevant to the solid, detailed information professionals working in education actually need. Give me a draft spec, as was done well in advance with the 2010 overhaul, & I can get cracking on the huge amount of work required to make our teaching resources 'fit for purpose'.

& I think we've established that what you know about the consultation which has already taken place could be written on the back of a postage stamp, never mind an envelope. Which is fine - why would you be any better informed, when teachers aren't? - but you'll have to accept that rather a lot of educational professionals, including but certainly not restricted to serving teachers, do not share your blind faith in the slithy Gove.

rockinhippy Sun 16-Dec-12 15:41:34

This worries me greatly, yes I agree changes are needed, but not in haste & not some new fangled rushed idea that will probably last until the next government decides to change again - does no one else remember the fiasco with 16+ in the 70s ?? - I do, because its exactly what happened back then - Conservative government too if I remember rightly hmm

I have 16+ passes equivalent to high grade GCEs, but would anyone bar a small few my age have a clue what they mean - no - thankfully being self employed early on I didn't need them, but not everyone has that luxury, far more thought and care needs to be taken over this than is planned or we are going to end up with another generation of adults with qualifications no employer understands, because they were binned after a few years!!!

chloe74 Sun 16-Dec-12 15:50:38

raven - I don't doubt many GCSE skills exceed those of 30 years employ. What I was explaining was that they are not all needed by those who have long ago chosen their life's path. Isn't the idea that children learn skills they might not use because they haven't yet figured out which ones they will need?

You might like to have more detailed info so you can get to work on it, but that is not the same as saying they do not exist.

I don't need to know about the results of the consultation because I am not the one making the decision. How is it that I should respect your ability on the best way to teach yet you refuse to accept Gove's ability to make the right decision for the county. It just seems your opposition to reform is your political ideology.

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 16:00:47

Because I have been demonstrating my ability to teach for the past fourteen years?

Whereas Gove has done nothing to convince me, or the majority of educational experts/professionals - again, not just teachers - that he has the slightest clue about something he has no background or experience in.

It's rather understating the case that I would 'like to have more detailed info so you can get to work on it'. It's of serious concern to me that the first cohort, at least, to be entered for the new quals. (assuming any of this ever happens of course) will be very much disadvantaged because the specification, assessment materials etc. have been hastily & shoddily prepared.

I don't oppose reform. NOR DO THE TEACHING UNIONS as has been repeatedly stated. I wrote 4 new Schemes of Learning for the new spec three years ago, & very much enjoyed doing so, I'm a GCSE examiner & regularly attend feedback sessions with the Exam Board. The very nature of teaching is that you continuously reflect on what you're doing & 'reform' it.

What I am opposed to is half-arsed, ill-informed & rushed tinkering by a career politician to fit his political ideology & personal megalomania.

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Dec-12 16:04:33

If there are more details, why were they held back from the consultation that finished last week? That would make no sense at all.

chloe74 Sun 16-Dec-12 16:07:43

RAVEN - I bow to your skill at teaching children but what skill do you have reforming an entire education system? Gove does not have to be an expert teacher to do his job, he will have others for informing where that is needed. It is your opinion that he has no clue but I find him to be very adept at what he does ie running an education system, as has a majority of the county voters. You just don't like him...

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 16:20:00

Oh, you'd noticed? wink.

He's not given me a great deal of reason to love him, really.

I'm not asking him to be an expert teacher; just to make sure he gets this right. By, for example, listening to those who ARE experts & are pretty much universally sceptical at best.

My opinion is that he is more interested in rushing this through in order to ensure that the public sees as much more of his phizzog as possible before the next GE, when either the Tories will remain in power & he'll look for a rather more exciting Cabinet post, or they'll be kicked out & he can attempt a leadership coup.

Not that I care whether his political career amongst the 'lower than vermin' flourishes - if he could promote his own interests whilst simultaneously presiding over intelligent reform of education, more power to his elbow.

But I'm afraid what I see is the latter being sacrificed to serve the former.

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Dec-12 16:24:21

You find him adept but many, many people who actually know what they're talking about think this scheme is dangerous, Chloe. Why are you not listening to them?

cricketballs Sun 16-Dec-12 18:06:22

Chloe - if you ask teachers you will find that the vast majority of them have 'worked in the real world' before going into teaching (especially secondary) it is unusual to find those who went into it straight from university.

If you actually also listen to the arguments put forward by those who are opposed to the changes that Gove is pushing through you may also learn that the opposition is not change but the manner in which these changes are taking place, i.e.

*do not cater for all abilities
*not workable to have one exam to suit 80% of ability range
*the limited curriculum it will enforce (don't believe the hype that the subjects that don't contribute to the league tables will continue when that is what a school is judged on)
*the speed in which it is being brought in
*the lack of consultation with experts
*the complete contempt to the misgivings that experts have already voiced

can you give your answers to these issues as you seem to be the only person in this country who has the details?

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Dec-12 18:19:01

About the arts -

"The government, and Michael Gove in particular, are under sustained attack from arts luminaries for their policies on arts education, focussing on the proposed English Baccalaureate, the EBacc, from which arts subjects have been excluded. In hopes of the government’s better understanding of what might be at stake, the likes of Nicholas Hytner, Grayson Perry and Sir Nicholas Serota have chosen to speak in economic terms, claiming that the creative economy could even be destroyed “within a generation” as a result.

Richard Eyre, the former National theatre artistic director, described the policy as “incredibly short-sighted”, and David Hare at his most florid has condemned “the most dangerous and far-reaching of the government’s reforms”. Even Tony Hall, the chief executive of the Royal Opera House and an avowed Gove fan, reports that there is already evidence that schools have cut courses in drama and performing arts because they are not in the EBacc."

chloe74 Sun 16-Dec-12 20:34:58

Hmmm - giraffe - I just don't believe the arts industry will be destroyed if children aren't forced to learn art. However right now we do have businesses complaining that children cant read and write well enough.

raven - you get 10 experts in a room and you get 10 different opinions. Its a politicians job to distil that expertise into a policy for the whole country, there will always be people that complain and resist change. Its easy to get experts to defame something new but you rarely hear them all coalescing on what is the right course of action. What we can say is that the GCSE system has been discredited and we need change.

You are also not dealing with the reality that its usually impossible to get the change we want because of the differing interest groups. eg we all agree a single EBacc exam is not suitable for all levels of ability but labour/libdems have made it impossible to have two separate exams. Gove can only work with what is possible.

Its always hard to accept opinion from self proclaimed experts when they are so rude about people they haven't even met.

From what I understand the changes will only come into force in 2017 which leaves time for the next government to stop them, if they really believe they are wrong.

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Dec-12 20:47:57

Chloe, the GCSE is one exam which is suitable for (almost) everybody, tiering the papers (e.g. Foundation and Higher papers) is what makes this workable. It's not impossible at all, it's just not what Gove is proposing. Gove wants everyone who sits the new qualification to sit the exact same paper as each other, which is blatantly ridiculous in subjects like maths and science. What everyone (you mention Labour and the Lib Dems but really the oppostion was much wider than that) was utterly united against was two tiers of education, like O-levels and CSEs, which make it very difficult to switch to a different qualification once your path has been set.

You are also incorrect to say the changes come into force in 2017. That's when the new exams will first be sat, but students will start the course in 2015. When's the next election due?

Have you actually read through the proposals as you don't seem to know much about them, despite apparently being fully in favour of them?

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 20:49:42

'Its a politicians job to distil that expertise into a policy for the whole country' - yes, agreed, & he's doing a quite spectacularly terrible job of it, which is my & other posters' cause for concern.

I don't think you've fully understood the proposals re: single tier entry, & I'd be fascinated to hear your evidence for Labour or the LDs blocking two separate tiers.

You might find this concise & informative; it's a biased source, but will address some of your more obvious factual misapprehensions re: start dates & tiering.

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 20:51:13

x-posted noblegiraffe.

MoreBeta Sun 16-Dec-12 21:02:24

Sorry if I missed this among the thread but what happens to the other subjects outside the Ebac?

My DS1 is very academic and capable of soing more than just the Ebac 5 subjects. I would like him to do 2 languages, history and geography as well as the 3 traditional sciences, art, maths and English. Will students stil take exams in thsoe subjects?

DS will be in taking his GCSE/Ebac in what will be the second year of the implementation?

Is there a website I can read more about the details?

titchy Sun 16-Dec-12 21:03:00

Chloe what do you think the pass rate of the new exam will be? What do you think it should be? 50%? That would make it clearly a rigorous exam - but does Gove want to be remembered as the politician responsible for 50% of 16 year olds finishing year 11 with NO qualifications? Maybe the pass rate should be 80% then? Oh whoops suddenly the EBC isn't worth the paper it's written on as it's so easy to pass! Hmmm maybe Gove wouldn't like that either.... And you TRUST this man! You genuinely think he will act in our children's best interests rather than his own? Very few politicians put their careers second to their principles IMO - very naive to believe Gove is one of these few.

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 21:09:11

We don't know, MoreBeta.

Hence the concern.

I teach in a 'good with outstanding features' state school - we're known locally & with some justification as a proficient exam factory.

I can assert with some confidence that we won't be doing all that much of anything that doesn't show up in a league table somewhere. I don't imagine non-Ebacc subjects would disappear - parents would go nuts! - but they'd be low priority.

My dc are similar & I also worry about narrowing of the curriculum.

chloe74 Sun 16-Dec-12 22:02:41

raven out of interest (and I have no hidden agenda in asking this) but if you teach in a good school, what in your opinion would make it an outstanding school or is it Ofsted that is a bad measurement scale.

I have read the website you referenced before, its not really unbiased is it?

Personally I would peg each grades results to the top 10%, 20%, 30% etc in that year which would stop grade inflation but I am willing to accept a system that people more experienced than me think is better.

giraffe - I disagree that GCSE's are able to provide the necessary, business/universities etc are unable to differentiate between the bright students because they are all lumped together. At the other end they are disregarded because kids are told they have qualifications who cant even read or write properly.

FYI I am not fully in favour of the proposals, I am fully in favour of waiting to see what the proposals are before I dis them.

titchy Sun 16-Dec-12 22:10:28

What on earth do you mean businesses and universities can't tell the outstanding candidates cos they're all lumped in together? Yeah right cos everyone gets 10 A*s don't they? hmm

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Dec-12 22:10:47

But you're too late, Chloe, the consultation has finished. Anything that you say from now on is irrelevant to what will actually happen.

Wouldn't it have been nice to know exactly what the proposals were before the consultation ended? Or maybe re-open the consultation after the proposals have been revised and refined?

By the way, GCSEs are not university entrance exams, as most students go onto further education, then maybe higher education. Businesses that are looking at 'top candidates' will also not be looking at GCSEs. They are mainly a stepping stone. If some universities can't distinguish between top candidates at A-level then perhaps they should set their own entrance exams that tell them exactly what they as individual universities want?

titchy Sun 16-Dec-12 22:16:16

Look why can't we just keep GCSEs, as individual qualifications, so if a kid is genuinely unable to learn an MFL they can still get a decent number of qualifications. Maybe we could call them something else if there's that much sneering over the standard of the GCSE. Maybe we could have a pass rate as Chloe suggests. But please let us NOT have one school leaving certificate type qualification where the subjects are pre-defined. And let's keep the tier system the same, so late starters can get the same qualification and have a chance at a decent grade.

noblegiraffe Sun 16-Dec-12 22:23:14

Thing is, I'm fully in favour of scrapping the current maths GCSE. I'm a maths teacher and think that it's not fit for purpose. But what Gove is suggesting it is replaced with is horrifying. He also doesn't appear to have paid attention to the extensive review of maths education that was commissioned by the Tories not that long ago, led by Carol Vorderman, which was surprisingly thorough and generally well received by the maths education community.

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 22:29:09

chloe74 - we got nobbled for Community Cohesion, which was then a limiting factor (ie. you couldn't get above 'good' overall with a 'satisfactory' for ComCo.). Our ComCo person had just left - under a cloud - & the new one had been in the job for less than a fortnight.

We were 'Outstanding' for Teaching & Learning, & we've since been graded 'Outstanding' by HMI in subject inspection.

My own opinion is that we can't be genuinely outstanding, in terms of quality provision for the children we teach, if we're left in the dark as to what we're supposed to be teaching & it's not been properly worked out. I can write Schemes of Learning for terminal exams only if that's where we're going, but we need a properly worked out spec in order to do our jobs properly.

'FYI I am not fully in favour of the proposals, I am fully in favour of waiting to see what the proposals are before I dis them.'

This is the problem you see. Those of us with a genuine interest in education would quite like to have seen them too. What we are 'dissing' is not the proposals but the process.

cricketballs Sun 16-Dec-12 23:02:40

Chloe I find it very interesting that you haven't responded to my worries about the changes so I will state again...

*do not cater for all abilities
*not workable to have one exam to suit 80% of ability range
*the limited curriculum it will enforce (don't believe the hype that the subjects that don't contribute to the league tables will continue when that is what a school is judged on)
*the speed in which it is being brought in
*the lack of consultation with experts
*the complete contempt to the misgivings that experts have already voiced

so rather than just sounding like Gove's puppet can you actually articulate a sound argument/reference to the above issues?

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 23:07:54

Doubt it. I blame her English teacher, tbh.

MayaAngelCool Sun 16-Dec-12 23:11:43

Just a quick reply to Chloe - the first news report I heard on the EBacc did say that the arts would be sidelined. That was a few months ago, IIRC.

Secondly, despite my lengthy post about the way that art can change society and individuals, you are still completely missing the point. I won't bother trying to explain it again! Except to say that as a professional choice the arts are more classless than masses of academic/ 'professional' careers such as law, publishing, medicine, architecture - the list is endless. You'd probably see that if you engaged with the arts.

FWIW can we do a straw poll: who did trigonometry at school? And who has used it since leaving school?

My replies: Yes, No.

I suspect that most people would answer in the same way. We all study a whole bunch of subjects which we are unlikely to ever refer back to in later life. Education is generally not tailor-made until we make our own choices as adults. So why do you consider the arts (which we've established you know next to nothing about) to be different, less valuable, and therefore justify a booting out?

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 23:23:34

I'd be a 'yes, no' too, & I'd argue that studying trig was quite good brain gym & gave me an insight into 'real' Maths - I didn't study Maths beyond A-Level, & had no great aptitude for it post O-Level.

It was a glimpse into something that was not for me, but might've been had my talents been different. Hopefully I'm better informed as to the value of Mathematics as a result.

Teaching & learning should be about opening doors in this way - Gove seems quite keen on slamming them in people's faces.

MayaAngelCool Sun 16-Dec-12 23:37:00

My point exactly, ravenAK, very well put.

I spent my childhood surrounded by people who took Gove's dim view (there's a double meaning in that! wink - and that's a Shakespeare quote, ho ho!) of the arts. Because I was academic as well as artistic, it was assumed that that was the direction I should be pushed in.

Decades later this square peg has finally rejected the round hole and I am now developing my own arts career. NEVER before have I been so stimulated, challenged, inspired, blah blah I shan't witter on about myself! grin I have never been so determined to build a career as I am now. And I wish I had had the strength of mind not to listen to the fuckers who lost me many, many years of career success and fulfilment. Nobody has the right to do that to anybody - particularly not those who haven't a fucking idea what they are talking about.

ravenAK Sun 16-Dec-12 23:59:02

But are you doing it in yellow cross-gartered stockings, Maya? grin.

MayaAngelCool Mon 17-Dec-12 00:19:28

Yup. And damn sexy they are, too. 'Specially with my cellulitey thighs poking out above. Foxy lady, that's me!

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 00:29:27

Could someone tell me when it refers to 'science' is that the equivalent of a single GCSE, double science award gcse or 3 separate sciences? Much the same applies for English - will it just be language, literature or a combination?

It may be a silly question - but will there just be one piece of paper awarded for the subjects in question - I suppose a bit like the pre-war matric exam?

I may be an old cynic but I can see that the certificate of achievement for those who don't achieve the ebacc will have zero currency.

mummytime Mon 17-Dec-12 06:08:54

Okay, I have two children who are doing GCSEs, but they vary a lot in syllabus and assessment methods from my eldest (sat them last summer) to my younger (sitting 2015). I also have a youngest who will be in the Ebacc years.

I assume that private schools will choose to sit iGCSEs instead, and I kind of hope that my DCs state school will take those instead of the new untried qualification. You can sit a foundation paper in iGCSEs btw.

I don't believe that Gove listens to anyone, expert or otherwise, he just goes on the fuzzy memories of his (and maybe his friends) schooldays.

lljkk Mon 17-Dec-12 07:48:39

LaVolcan I don't understand the English components, either, but I think with double or triple science GCSE, there are different components when course-worked based,including a sort of general science exam taken early as part of the modular work.

But hey, don't worry about wrapping your mind around it, Gove wants to change the whole structure anyway!

Double science counts as 2 GCSEs & is usually considered the lower ability science qualification. Both interpreted as general science, not specialised.

Triple science is for higher ability kids, counts as 3 GCSEs: one each in bio/physics/chemistry.

gelo Mon 17-Dec-12 08:35:07

triple science isn't necessarily for higher ability kids - double is all you need for A level science and some high ability dc choose to do extra languages or humanities instead of the extra science. It is true though that higher ability children now have an 'entitlement' to do triple science if they want to (in theory at least).

Back in the old days of O levels when 8 subjects was normal, it was quite unusual to do all 3 sciences. Lots of people just did one or two. I personally think doing one or two science GCSEs that cover some of all the sciences is better than doing just one or two specific science O levels and I'd be surprised if Gove tries to move back to that. I'd expect his new ebacc science to be at least the minimum needed for A level which is the equivalent of 2 GCSEs, but he maybe thinking it will be more - No one really seems to know.

seeker Mon 17-Dec-12 09:11:37

Can somebody clarify something for me? I thought the EBacc was just a certificate you got if you got GCSEs in English, maths, a science, a language and either history or geography? People are talking on here as if it's a new exam. Have I missed something?

titchy Mon 17-Dec-12 09:18:44

Seeker they're talking about Goves proposed new qual for current yer 7s which will be one award EBC as long as kid gets maths English science MFL and humanity. If you're crap at languages tough - you don't get the qual even though you may be a math genius.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 09:19:47

I maybe wasn't clear: I wasn't asking about 'science' now. I agree that double science wasn't a bar to a child going on to do A levels in sciences since I had one who did that. In the old days the O level combination was usually Physics and Chemistry, or Biology and Chemistry but very rarely all three and usually gender biased at that. (I am not sure that this has changed much - wasn't there a report out this summer saying how few girls are doing Physics A level?)

But I digress. When you say gelo No one really seems to know, that is what I expected the answer to be. It sounds too as though you won't just get the one certificate for it, so it won't be like now when getting all five components deems you to have got an Ebac. This will be unlike the BTEC, which as implied up thread, is a much misunderstood qualification but where you do have to pass all the components to gain the award, so in that sense is a more rigourous award.

Personally I don't see why an educated person shouldn't be expected to have science and language qualifications, so I don't have a problem with the concept. What does baffle me, which I think has also been said elsewhere, is why have the qualification at 16 when that is no longer the school leaving age? Why not rethink the whole 14-18 exam structure instead of chopping it in two? Again though I think various reports have been made about this, which have been perfectly sensible but have just been binned.

What a mess, especially for those children who will be the guinea pigs.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 09:50:43

Ah, see I thought the kids would sit EBCs in English, maths, science, mfl, humanity and these would be individual qualifications. If they score a full house then they will (like now) get an ebacc certificate to go with it.

titchy Mon 17-Dec-12 09:57:54

There is no EBacc certificate right now noble. The current EBacc is just a way of measuring schools. It's shorthand for 'GCSEs in these 6 specific subjects' which is too long a title for an Excel column.....

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 10:00:26

Do they not? Crikey, all that fuss about it and they don't even get a piece of paper to prove they've got it. Employers will really not give a shit, will they?

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 10:17:54

So it really will be like the old 'Matric' (School Certificate) or the current BTECS?

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 10:35:41

Not sure what the old school certificate was. The new qualifications will be separate qualifications in separate subjects with a grade for each (but 1-6 rather than A*-G). If you pass all of them, it's called an ebacc. If you don't sit them, you get a piece of paper listing the work you did at school when everyone else was studying for their exams. If you pass some but fail others, you'll get your EBC in maths or whatever you passed, but not the ebacc. If you fail all of them, I guess you just get a certificate with 'fail' for each subject.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 10:38:25

Remember, if the exams are to be sat by 80%, that means 1 in 5 students will get no qualifications, just the bit of paper saying what work they covered (but weren't examined on). It'll be worthless.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Dec-12 11:07:04

I am a bit suspicious that we are being drawn into opposing Gove plans by by whipping up fear among parents. Fear of the unknown actually.

I too understood or at least thought I understood the Ebac would just be a certificate that showed you had achieved a certain standard in core traditional subjects but that all the subjects woudl carry on being taught and examined as single subjects just like the old O Levels or GCSE.

I dont believe for a moment that Gove wants to stop children taking arts subjects or taking 3 sciences if they wish.

Yes we need to know the details but as far as I can tell those details have not yet been published.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Dec-12 11:08:09

After all the NUT have a record of opposing everything that Gove proposes whether it be good or bad.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 11:30:30

Here is some info on the old school certificate. which makes interesting reading. I had thought that Gove wanted to take us back to a golden age of the 1950s, but reading this it looks as though he wants to take us back a century.

MoreBeta: I don't think that it's a question of opposing everything that Gove does, it's just that in this case it's all being rushed in, without the details being known and despite misgivings from many bodies besides teachers. I am sure that most of us posting here would consider ourselves to be well informed and educated but we are not at all clear about what is being proposed. Is that because we are deluding ourselves and we are really all a bit thick, or is it that Gove really hasn't bothered to think it through?

Unfortunately I am an old cynic and ultimately I think Gove's main aim is to do what will further his own career. I hope this one backfires on him spectacularly, but I have a suspicion that he will have moved on by then and someone else will be picking up the mess he has left.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 12:44:44

Morebeta, I think there is plenty to fear from what is known! And that so much is unknown for brand new qualifications we are supposed to start teaching in under 3 years time is also very worrying. If I had a child in Y7 now I would be very concerned indeed. Even if the details are ironed out, exam formats decided and specifications drawn up in time for Sept 2015, it's going to be such a rush job that the first cohort will really suffer from lack of adequate preparation. Once the changes are bedded down and established, students will be starting to prepare for these new style qualifications from Y7, which will give them a huge advantage. (Will they be allowed to do better than the poorly prepared cohort or will that be deemed to be grade inflation? If grades are artificially reduced to keep them in line with the first cohort, then how can the level of skill of these students be compared?)

gelo Mon 17-Dec-12 13:39:44

The worry is that when Ofqual laid out their concerns Gove said he would talk to them, but "If they still had concerns and I still believe it is right to go ahead then I would do it, and on my head be it" which makes us wonder just how much he is going to listen to the experts.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Dec-12 14:52:06

LaVolcan/noblegiraffe - is it possible that we just carry on with the old exams that dont change much but that certain subjects are compulsory and recognised with an additional certificate.

My DS1 will be in the second year of this so I am concerned. I dont honestly think they will invent an entire new exam and ban children from taking chemistry, physics, biology, history, georgraphy, art and many other subjects as individual exams.

I think Gove just wants to introduce a basic minimum educational attainment and not allow children to come out of school at 16 with say a GCSE in DT and never having taken any kind of maths exam. I honestly think he wants breadth in education and a basic standard in the core subjects - not to throw away the old system entirity. He wants reform and a return to the standards of 20 - 30 years ago not destruction of the entire education system.

I do genuinely want more info and I am worried about a rushed introduction that is botched but I suspect the NUT might also do its best to make that introduction as chaotic and difficult as possible. Worst of all world would be a new Govt that cancels it all at the last moment.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 15:13:48

MoreBeta: are you making the assumption that the standards of 20-30 years ago were better? Alternatively, are you assuming that they were worse and that Gove wants more children to be thrown onto the scrapheap?

i would certainly like to see all children having a balanced education. I agree that a child shouldn't come out of school with only taking DT and not maths, but I suspect you would be hard pressed to find a school which didn't teach all children maths.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 15:55:00

Morebeta, maths is already compulsory! It is almost unheard of for students not to be entered for maths GCSE.

As for keeping the old exams and not inventing new ones - Gove thinks that GCSEs are so discredited that the only option is to scrap them. Fine, tbh, at least that would give a clear line for the changes instead of the successive years of tinkering we've had with GCSEs. But the ideas he has put out for consultation on what form these new exams should take are terrible. As far as I can tell, EBCs are planned for English, maths and (all three) sciences starting 2015, with humanities and MFL starting the next year. GCSEs in those subjects will be no more. Where pretty much everyone sits Maths and English now, one in five won't, at least in Y11. No one knows what will happen to the other subjects because he hasn't mentioned them. Presumably they'll continue as GCSEs (discredited) until someone puts them out of their misery.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Mon 17-Dec-12 16:02:24

All children take Maths GCSE. Even ones that have to fight to achieve a 'G' grade like my DD.

Not all DC's are CAPABLE of passing a Maths or English GCSE with a decent grade. It doesn't make them unemployable. My DD struggles with algebra and shape work, but is fine with weights and measures and temperatures in Maths.

What will she need to use in her chosen trade if Catering - not algebra, that's for sure. So her failing her Maths GCSE won't make her unemployable as long as she can tell the time enough to get into work on time, weigh and measure her ingredients, and time how long things need to be cooked for...

Her Catering GCSE that is equivalent to an NVQ level 2, shaving a year off the time she will spend at college, deals with making HER more employable than a Maths exam she will never pass.

What is going to prepare her for employment better - sitting in a classroom where people around her are doing Maths work she doesn't understand, or learning what causes Coronary Heart disease, it's symptoms and treatments, and how to change your diet and adapt a recipe to prevent Coronary Heart disease?


What good is a qualification that excludes my DD from exams, wastes years of her life, leaves her unemployable because employers won't accept a 'school leaving certificate' that isn't a recognised qualification, and prevents her from attending college.

As it is, DD will make up her 3 'C' grades at GCSE to get onto a Catering NVQ 3 at College in Biology, Catering and Textiles. All far more relevant to her future life and employment!

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 16:15:38

Well said Couthy.

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 18:48:13

I work on a foundation learning programme. This is for kids with no gcse's. None of then have a maths gcse, and very few were entered for it.

Perhaps it may be unheard of to you noble giraffe, but not to me. It's the norm.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 19:22:44

MoreBeta – Pretty much the same as me.

outhyMowEatingBraiiiiinz – I don't follow your reasoning. I understand you feel your DC would be unable to complete all of an EBacc, but she wont be forced to and how does it follow that other children who can achieve this shouldn't be allowed to? How would your DC’s chances of going to college for catering be any different than they are now?

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 19:35:10

I said almost unheard of, Leafmould, not totally unheard of. Clearly there are going to be students for whom even a GCSE is inappropriate, but compare that rare situation to the proposed new qualification which will be designed to be inaccessible to one in five students!

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 19:44:06

@chloe74 because at present the plan is that only the top 80% will be entered for the exam. At the moment Couthy's daughter has the chance to gain a qualification - in the future there seems to be no plan put in place for her to get anything, except a vague statement of achievement which will probably be worthless.

I suspect what might happen in that case would be that colleges began to formulate their own tests to assess whether the students can cope with the course. But who knows?

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 19:46:26

Sorry if that came across as antagonistic, I'm not arguing with you, noble giraffe, just trying to show people in general that although as individuals we may never come across y11s who are not entered for gcses, there are a significant number of them, and gcses are not the wonderfully inclusive qualification some people seem to think they are.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 19:47:11

I agree a separate exam for less able students would probably be better but left wing propaganda has made this impossible.

Given that the consultation has just ended and we haven't heard the governments response I think it is only fair to wait a few more weeks before jumping to conclusions.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 20:00:41

LaVolcan - What qualification does a G grade in maths give you now? Probably less than a statement of achievement. Better to spend the time learning than wasting it on exam you can't pass.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 20:09:11

You need to ask Couthy - but from what she said, she seemed to find it worthwhile for her daughter.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 20:18:19

I got the impression from previous post that is was the studying maths that was worthwhile.

However I was making the point more generally that in terms of employment/college/business/wider community etc that anything below a grade 'D' in GCSE was considered a fail. At that level it would be better concentrating on what a child can learn that is useful to them rather than wasting time on an exam.

Jux Mon 17-Dec-12 20:29:11

Dd is massively academic. She is also a talented musician and her art teacher loves and has said that she'll be incredibly disappointed if dd doesn't do art.

There isn't room for dd to do the non academic subjects she wants to do and I am concerned that only doing the academic subjects will have a bad effect on her emotionally.

She's in Y9 and is choosing subjects now, but there seem to be some set subjects which she simply has to do, at the expense of all-roundedness. We have a meeting early next term so am hoping things will have changed sufficiently so dd can have a more balanced education.

Music and art are vital parts of creating well rounded individuals and I'm shocked that Gove seems to have missed something so fundamental.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 20:32:54

Jux - you don't explain why she doesn't choose Art or Music. If she is academic wouldn't she be able to cope with 9/10 subjects?

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 20:34:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 20:36:46

chloe74 - reading Couthy's post again I have may have understood what she said about maths. However I think this statement of hers is worth repeating:

What good is a qualification that excludes my DD from exams, wastes years of her life, leaves her unemployable because employers won't accept a 'school leaving certificate' that isn't a recognised qualification, and prevents her from attending college.

I am personally not against the ebacc itself. I am against it being rushed in without proper thought, I am against a qualification which ignores the arts & music and I am against a system which tells 20% of children 'We have nothing for you'.

Past form suggests that a statement of achievement will probably be worthless.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 20:41:38

She's in Y9 and is choosing subjects now, but there seem to be some set subjects which she simply has to do, at the expense of all-roundedness. Jux - exactly the same happened to my DD, who couldn't do Art. If one is to ask, why can't additional subjects be taken, there are such things as timetabling constraints.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 20:46:23

LaVolcan - not all children are able to do exams in all subjects. However their is still plenty of value in learning the subject (to the best of your ability), its certainly not a waste of time. So I don't understand how that makes a child unemployable or not allowed to attend college?

I see no evidence yet that the EBacc is being rushed in without proper thought, its still three years before children have to start studying it. Also can't see how studying Maths and science etc stops anyone from studying art & music to a high level. And I also cant see how designing an exam that is aimed at 80% of children means there is nothing for the rest. The consultation only just ended!

I don't imagine a statement of achievement is of much use to most children, however it would only be for those at the lowest level of expectations and it might very well be relevant to them. Surely a lot more relevant than a pile of grade G's.

JingleBel Mon 17-Dec-12 20:52:13

If these reforms go ahead then state school children are going to have a very narrow experience and miss out on so many opportunities.

I hope Gove listens to those telling him its a terrible idea.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 20:53:13

LaVolcan/Jux - Maths, Science *2/3, Eng lan/lit, Geog, MFL, Art, Music
maybe I am missing something but what other subjects are compulsory and stops you doing Art/Music? This doesn't seem to be an abnormal combination in my area, do other schools make it impossible to do this combination? I understand timetabling problems but usually they are in the less common subjects. I must be missing something.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 21:00:47

And I also cant see how designing an exam that is aimed at 80% of children means there is nothing for the rest.

Because that was in the proposal. For the students who don't sit the new EBC they will simply get a piece of paper listing what they've been up to in that subject.

You really should read the proposal, btw.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 21:05:19

A desire to do two foreign languages or a desire to do geography, history and RE would end up knocking something else out, for example. Which is in part how my daughter ended up not being able to take Art.

Leafmould Mon 17-Dec-12 21:09:13

A g grade in maths is a level 1. This allows you to apply for level 2 college courses and apprenticeships.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 21:10:05

Sorry noble that is just spin. Just because the few aren't able to get a grade in that subject does not mean that they get nothing. They get the best education in that area that was possible and 'a piece of paper listing what they've been up to in that subject'. You cant lie to people and tell them they have passed a subject when they haven't just to make everyone feel special. That's whats wrong with the system currently. Children will do better in life if you are honest with them about their abilities and expectations.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 21:14:31

LaVolcan - do you think a pupil should be taking 13+ subjects and just spending less time on each one then. Surely its not possible to fit so many in and teach them all to a decent level.

Doesn't that mean its an 'issue' within the GCSE system and not just a complaint about the EBC system.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 21:16:26

One in five is hardly a few students!

You do understand that a grade G in maths means something? And an F, and an E. You can distinguish between students' maths ability on the basis of their GCSE maths grade. Under the proposals, they would not even be allowed to sit the exam to demonstrate their knowledge.

Jux Mon 17-Dec-12 21:19:25

Chloe, because the school have chosen 8 for them already, and then she has a choice of history or geography (she's a natural historian, so that's one) and so she's only got one left which will then be 10 subjects. There are others she wants to do, but even I can see that more than 10 is likely to be a bit much!

Anyway, there's one slot left and 3 subjects to fit into it. If she could drop to double science that'd let her do art and music, but so far it's not a possibility.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 21:24:57

@chloe74 - do I think pupils should be taking 13+ subjects? Er no, why do you think I said that? I just pointed out that there were timetabling constraints which stopped you taking some subjects. I believe that it is subjects like Art and Music which get pushed out of the timetable because they are perceived as soft subjects.The fact that Gove hasn't even considered them is not likely to enhance their status. Anyone who does do music or art knows how much work is needed for them, so the perception is erroneous.

I do despair because the Arts are one area in which this country has excelled.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 21:27:57

Jux - surely you were aware the school had 8 compulsory subjects before she started there or did they just become mandatory last year? Would you prefer her to drop down to double science? Can she not do extra music just not as a GCSE. Is art not something she can study else where or at another time?

Seems the issue of fitting everything in exists already.

AViewfromtheFridge Mon 17-Dec-12 22:04:28

This has probably been linked to already but it can't hurt. If you agree that the proposals need a longer consultation time, sign the petition here.

cricketballs Mon 17-Dec-12 22:09:18

once again Chloe you have chosen to ignore my points that I asked you to raise an articulate argument to but why should I be surprised when these are the issues that all in education are putting forward to which Gove just states he will ignore

In terms of the 20% (though it will be more as not all 80% of students will achieve a grade in this one exam fits all proposal) a sheet of paper saying they studied maths is not good enough! It is difficult to keep a 16 year old enthused about learning something that they will not gain a qualification in (been there and done that) when even the lowest of lowest ability are aware of the importance that qualifications have to their future, no matter what the grade - why study something that is not going to give them a future? A grade G is better than nothing

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 22:19:11

I don't know whether you have children at school or have had Chloe, but one of the problems which has bedevilled education has been the constantly shifting goalposts. It's almost impossible to say in year 7 what the situation will be in year 10.

Fridge - signed. As I said I am not wholly against the proposals, I just don't want them rushed in in a half-cock manner.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 23:01:28

cricketballs – I think I have addressed all your points already, so forgive me if I am repeating myself.
Many posters have said they did not know the full extent of the changes, so you just cant say yet if they will cater for all abilities and in one exam. The ‘limited curriculum’? I am not sure what you mean, a core of academic subjects that all children could learn still allows for several other options to be taken. Isn’t that almost identical to what we have now? The speed of implementation, well the longer you drag out this the more disruption it will bring and for exams that will be taken in 5 years it is hardly breakneck speed. The private sector wouldn’t have a problem with that time scale, the public sector always needs three times longer, which is part of the problem. Consultation with experts is always tricky, how many, which ones, are you sure you don't mean keeping everyone happy? You just cant do that all the time. I am confident the Education department has plenty of experts working on this. Contempt to expert misgivings? again when you don't agree with an ‘expert’ it is not contempt.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 23:16:55

LaVolcan - Although I don't like getting personal I have said it before on other posts. I have a child in Y6, so in the second wave for math/english EBC and the first wave for the MFL/humanities etc and I am so pleased the system is being reformed to something better. I would have put him in for the iGCSE or waited until 18 for the IBacc rather than waste his time on the GCSE.

I don't have a problem with constantly goalposts. That's life. If you get a good education then you wont have a problem (in life) no matter what the exact exam specifications are. And for me its the good education that is most important not the grades at the end.

The teachers at the school I am hoping he will go to don't seem to have a problem with the new changes. Also I have spoken to teachers on both sides of the debate and it seems to affect exam orientated schools significantly more than those that just focus on an outstanding education. I know many teachers on here will disagree with me on that point but there you go, that's my 2 cents.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 23:29:54

OK - I had missed the info about your DC.

I haven't heard that there are any proposals for iGCSE or IBacc but to my mind it would be worth putting those options on the table. It seems odd, to say the least, to be putting so much effort into a qualification at age 16 when you know that those who will take it will be going on to two more years education. If most people still left school at 16 I could understand it, but not now. It seems a good opportunity missed to really have a good look (again I may add) at 14-18 education.

I suspect you are right re the exam orientated schools. I can't share your faith in Gove, but time will tell.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Dec-12 23:30:21

They're not just changing the exams, they are changing the syllabus and the entire approach. The suggestion is that maths might be two qualifications, one pure and applied and one additional maths. Wtf does that mean? What will go on each paper? What content will be added? Who will sit each exam? What is the purpose of the two exams? They don't even know which exam board will be writing the bloody thing.

If you knew the utter chaos that has whirled around in maths education these past few years over the simple words 'functional maths' you wouldn't have the slightest bit of confidence that the 'experts' could come up with something in 3 years that will actually work, let alone be 'better' than what we've currently got.

chloe74 Mon 17-Dec-12 23:44:19

I am not a particularly big supporter of Gove but I do believe on giving him a chance, there are some genuine people in the world. And if you gave so called 'experts' his role I don't believe for a second they would do any better.

Obviously its of concern to teachers whether its pure/applied/additional. All I care about is its well taught to a high level, then it doesn't really matter how many papers the exam comes in. I am also a supporter of 'functional maths' or a version of. noble, I agree the 'experts' couldn't come up with something in 3 years, or even 6 years if you asked them. That's why it takes a strong leader to push it through.

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 23:58:01

Presumably the additional maths would be aimed at those who are planned to do Maths A level to bridge the gap between GCSE and A level, which seems to be a particular problem? In itself, I don't suppose it's a wholly bad idea, but it needs thinking through.

Was it you who said that you didn't think the current Maths GCSE was fit for purpose? If it was, in what way did you think so?

Someone said that the Scottish system used to have an Arithmetic standard grade separate to Maths. That doesn't seem a bad idea to me either although I believe that exam was abolished. (I grieves me to go into a shop and find an assistant who hasn't been shown or worked out a better way to add up say £3.99 and £5.99 without writing it down and laboriously adding up the columns.)

LaVolcan Mon 17-Dec-12 23:58:45

That was addressed to noble BTW.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 00:06:24

Everyone supports functional maths, Chloe. The problem was actually agreeing what it meant and how it should be tested. Years ago (2006?) when it was decided that maths coursework would be scrapped, it was also decided that the exam would contain longer tasks to replace it. Perhaps some sort of functional maths that employers were keen on. Different exam boards came up with very different ideas of the sorts of questions that represented 'functional maths'. There was supposed to be a separate functional maths exam paper that everyone had to sit and if they failed the functional maths paper, they weren't to be awarded a C or above at maths GCSE no matter what they scored on their GCSE exam. The qualification was piloted, it was all set to go, and then the September (2009?) it was supposed to be first taught, it was just completely scrapped. It was then decided that functional maths (now redesigned to be questions the kids had a chance of answering) was to be incorporated into the Maths GCSE exam - if the kids failed those questions they could still get a C by pulling extra marks on the other questions.

And functional maths represents a small proportion of the maths GCSE content. It has taken years and years to sort out. And they want to introduce a whole new exam system, two exams, a different grading system and a new syllabus, with no tiering in 3 years? They're having a laugh. Strong leader or not, it's going to be chaos, especially seeing as the first year is probably going to be spent deciding who's in charge of what.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 00:23:13

No, I don't think the current GCSE is fit for purpose, LV. It has been the opinion of many in the maths community for many years (and highly recommended in the Tory commissioned Vorderman maths report of 2011) that maths become a double award. The problem with maths GCSE is that it doesn't serve the top end or the bottom end well, and employers want something completely different from it to what it actually provides.

Employers want students who can apply what they have learned in maths to everyday problems. However, a C grade in maths requires stuff like plotting quadratic graphs, Pythagoras and algebra that they're probably never going to use in real life. The Scottish model which separated arithmetic and pure maths seems reasonable, and there have been twin GCSEs piloted along the lines of Methods in maths and more solid algebra and esoteric geometry. The suggestion for EBCs doesn't seem to fit this.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 07:53:03

Actually, I think that's what annoys me most. People have spent ages reviewing GCSE maths, consulting with experts and putting together proposals on how to make it a decent maths qualification for all students and Gove (who signed off the review) just completely ignores the lot to say 'I want a single tier exam that will exclude one in five students and badly serve the 80% who actually sit it'.

Even if he now turns around and says 'I've listened to the consultation and decided that maths should have tiers of entry (which he surely must) and we need to carefully consider the content split between qualifications and decide how we will best serve the less able', what a complete and utter waste of everybody's time.

LaVolcan Tue 18-Dec-12 08:04:54

@noble - that's the thing which is worrying. It sounds as though you had got to a workable system which would be good for pupils, teachers and employers and whoosh - Gove doesn't like it, so out the window it goes.

chloe74 Tue 18-Dec-12 09:41:55

I think it is unfair to blame Gove. He seemed to be inclined to have that split between different exams for different levels of ability. But the left wing politicians spun it as a return to O-Levels and CSE style exams and put a stop to that happening.

Perhaps if the NUT came out in support of different exams then it would help Gove.

mummytime Tue 18-Dec-12 09:54:38

I just wish Gove would leave it alone for a couple of years, rather than change the exam system at least by tweaks every year.

I say this as someone who knows the exam system better than most and has children going through it.

Also the one thing politicians haven't done for some time is look at: what is the purpose of education? How is it changing with the modern world? (Especially the on-line courses nowadays.) And what does research tell us about how the brain works and people learn.

Yes there has been some good work. The initial NC wasn't too bad. The EYFS curriculum is quite good. But going back to the 1950s is not what anyone really wants.

marriedandwreathedinholly Tue 18-Dec-12 10:05:15

I have no issue with Gove. I think he is committed to driving up standards. I was appalled but not surprised to read in the papers last week that one in four primary children does not make the expected progress predicted at age 7.

The GCSE appears to me to be a very weak qualification and the NVQs and BTECs appea to have reintroduction a two tier system via the back door. DS took largely IGCE's and they were far more rigorous than what his contemporaries appeared to be doing. He is also in his second year of IB and we are pleased with that choice.

As an employer I despair that young people with C grades for English and maths GCSEs, having subsequently obtained a masters degree or three, are generally incapable of constructing grammatically correct sentences or producing accurate simple arithmetic calculations. To get an acceptable standard of competency I have to look at those with 9 A/B at GCSE, A/B at A'Level and degrees from traditional universities. The kids from the comp who have pushed themselves into a former poly are not coming out of the other end of the system with skills fit for the workplace and have an unrealistic view of what they are likely to achieve.

What we need is more choice, an acceptance that one size doesn't fit all, that not everyone is university material and much more emphasis on foundation skills required for life. How we get that I don't really mind but I think the NUT and co would command a little more respect if they were to express a little more concern about the entitlement of every child to a good basic functional education and focus in what our children need rather than continuing to use their education as a socialist stick with which to beat those who want the best for them.

gelo Tue 18-Dec-12 10:24:09

iGCSEs aren't very different to GCSE in many cases. Arguably some are easier, but they have been hyped quite well.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 10:37:20

LV when people bang on about how teachers don't want this because it's Gove, because it's the Tories, because they're resistant to change its really annoying. The recent review of maths education was commissioned by the Tories, led by Carol Vorderman (you can imagine that was popular) and signed off by Gove. Yet it was welcomed by the maths community as a pretty solid report with some good recommendations about what should be done to improve maths education. And it appears to have all just been binned.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 10:40:06

Chloe, you appear to be getting confused with tiers of entry to a single qualification (which is fine but Gove doesn't want) and a return to two tier education like O-levels and CSEs which would be pretty broadly condemned.

chloe74 Tue 18-Dec-12 10:55:38

noble - its like dancing on the head of a pin. Whether you call it a different tier or not it would still be a different exam paper aimed at different levels of ability. And how do you know Carol's review has been binned, the information in it will be informing the new reforms, and the details of them are still to be disclosed. I do know you can't always implement every single word of every expert that utters it, their are always competing priorities that have to be balanced.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 11:57:53

Chloe, what Gove is proposing is radically different to what was contained in the report (which, by the way, was called 'A World Class Mathematics Education For All Our Young People' not 'Screw the Bottom 20% Out of Any Maths Qualifications')

Different tiers of entry are also a completely different kettle of fish to a two tier education system. It really isn't simply semantics. A C grade GCSE gained on the Foundation paper counts exactly the same on your CV as one gained on the Higher paper. No one can tell the difference. However much people tried to claim that a top grade CSE was equivalent to an O-level, no one actually bought it. You had CSEs, people knew that you weren't considered O-level material and could discriminate.

Incidentally, do you know why Gove wants to scrap Foundation and Higher papers and have everyone in the 80% sit the same exam? Because he thinks it's a cap on aspirations. If you are entered for Foundation, you can't get a B, and this is limiting. What the bloody hell he thinks an exam that one in five won't even be able to sit so they won't sit anything does for people's aspirations is beyond me.

chloe74 Tue 18-Dec-12 13:09:40

No one is suggesting a return to the O-Level system.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 13:20:26

Do you not remember the headlines when this was first leaked? Gove to bring back O-levels? Gove-levels?
You do know when you bang on about Labour and Lib Dems blocking a move to a two tier system this was exactly what they were talking about?
So if you don't want a return to the old system of different qualifications, then presumably you agree with the Lib Dems and Labour?

chloe74 Tue 18-Dec-12 13:34:11

I fully remember the headlines but its was the media and opponents that labeled it a return to O-Level / CSE's. A modern rigorous exam / curriculum, and a different type of system for those less able does not mean a return to the 1950's. We have all moved on, but that does not mean any ideas that were used at that time are somehow banned from use or indeed useful.

LaVolcan Tue 18-Dec-12 14:50:55

Mind you noble, Gove is not the only one to call for reports and then bin them. Tomlinson's report on 14-19 education had some good ideas which were well received, but the report was ignored by a previous Labour administration.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 15:04:38

No, I know, LV but the changes to maths GCSE were (are) being piloted and everything. They looked like they really might happen! Due for roll out in .... 2015.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 15:05:46

How would a modern rigorous exam for the most able and a different qualification for the less able differ significantly from O-levels and CSEs, Chloe?

chloe74 Tue 18-Dec-12 15:14:10

I could only speculate noble. However it must be possible to use any good parts, whilst leaving the bad behind. I don't believe for a second anyone was seriously suggesting we just use a 60 year old exam or curriculum.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 15:39:58

The bad part was that a two tier exam system was divisive, the lower qualification seen as second best and being selected into a lower qualification at a young age (even at 13-14) tends to run along social lines, perpetuating social inequality, as possession of the lesser qualifications will close doors. Not sure how any two tier system of qualifications could leave those problems behind.

No one is suggesting bringing back an ancient curriculum. However, Gove isn't even proposing to bring back two different qualifications (which is what you seem to want), he is attempting to bring back what happened before CSEs were made available to the lower ability students. A bit of paper basically saying they went to school.

chloe74 Tue 18-Dec-12 16:57:56

I believe it would be possible to make a 'vocational' qualification valuable, but I imagine you are now getting into perceptions.

seeker Tue 18-Dec-12 17:45:08

Tricky. I don't have much experience to contribute, although I know a bit about GCSE and BTec Performing Arts, and in my opinion, the BTec is more challenging, but th GCSE is more highly regarded. I don't know how you would go about changing people's perceptions, and the problem is that while you are trying to change them, kids are having to apply for jobs and college places with the less well regarded qualifications. A very difficult one.

marriedandwreathedinholly Tue 18-Dec-12 17:59:16

Well funnily enough noble my grandparents didn't have a qualification between them; neither did DH's. They could all write beautifully and I mean in the context of both handwriting and as wordsmiths; they all knew their times tables and were able to whizz their way through mental arithmetic. They knew about the land, the world, music, history, art, etc.. They were very well educated - they were not well qualified however. My mother and MIL both matriculated and are similar. FIL and father were scientist/engineer types so had degrees but somewhere society has lost the plot and has become intent on producing well qualified people who are incredibly badly educated. It is the greatest tragedy of our time I think.

BoneyBackJefferson Tue 18-Dec-12 18:35:08


How old are your Grandparents?

I suspect that they were educated in the time of the cane, "special" schools and when being a teacher was a "profession" before the system was undermined by successive governments.

LaVolcan Tue 18-Dec-12 18:46:56

Some vocational qualifications, as may have already been said on the thread, actually go back a long way. Scratch the surface of the BTec in Business Studies and you find the old OND lurking underneath. Many moons ago I did A level economics at an FE college alongside the OND economics students. It was no less rigourous obviously, because we were in the same class, but they had to pass the whole lot - another 4 or 5 subjects before they got a qualification. Local employers did seem to understand the qualification's worth and rate it highly.

Apprenticeships too used to last 5 years and be well thought of. Locally where I am now, in Oxfordshire, someone who had been a Harwell apprentice was thought of as being someone well qualified and treated with respect.

My impression is that over the last 20 years or so though we seem to have lost our way with vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. Who knows what might happen in the future though? With universities charging fees of £9K per annum, perhaps the demand will reawaken? Especially in practical subjects like engineering?

seeker Tue 18-Dec-12 19:16:47

You only have to be on mumsnet for a while to see how middle class people regard BTecs!

ravenAK Tue 18-Dec-12 19:25:05

The thing with this, Chloe74: 'Whether you call it a different tier or not it would still be a different exam paper aimed at different levels of ability.' is that this works rather well.

I have, for example, a student who is on course for a solid grade C - her target grade - in Eng Lit. Looking at her Mock paper, I'm tempted to enter her for Higher Tier, which covers grades A*-D, rather than Foundation (grades C-G), because I think she's got a good chance of a B.

Gove's initial proposal of moving to O-Levels, plus something he hadn't bothered to think about for weaker students, takes that possibility away.

Within one qualification/two tiers you can have the whole cohort studying the same material & same skills, & make a judgment towards the end of Y11 re: which tier they are entered for, depending on the progress they've made since the start of Y10.

It is a continuous grading of attainment from G (limited, but certainly measurable & useful) to A* (pretty damn impressive).

The reason Gove had to quietly wipe the egg off his face & bin his Gove levels was that the Lib Dems justified their existence for once & kicked up an almighty stink at the thought of classifying students into sheep & goats at 13.

He seems to be attempting to resolve this problem by essentially pretending that the least academic 20% simply don't exist. That's an awful lot of kids being written off.

marriedandwreathedinholly Tue 18-Dec-12 20:35:22

*Boneyback*. I guess that's right - they would all be over 100 now. Don't ever remember them talking about disruption in lessons or pupils hitting teachers either wink - they talked about teachers in awe. DH's grandad was very very clever and the teacher came to the house before he was 14 to beg his parents to let him stay at school. He couldn't; he was the eldest of 11 and he had to go down the mine. On his 18th birthday he became a soldier.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 20:59:22

The problem with 'vocational' qualifications, is that people think that it is another term for 'qualifications for the less able'. You have to be pretty on the ball to make a success of some of these courses. I seem to remember hearing that people offering technical apprenticeships were getting annoyed with being sent nothing but the kids who had failed everything else. I've taught kids who have got Bs at GCSE maths, so in the top 25% rather than the bottom 20% who have been very successful on their part time college courses -hairdressing, nannying, car maintenance and so on.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Dec-12 21:05:04

Married, I'm not sure whether you're trying to say it's a good thing or a shame that your obviously clever grandparents were allowed to leave school with no qualifications. I would go with shame.

Back in the days of O-levels or nothing, it would have only been the top, what, 20% who got them, so most people didn't have qualifications and it wouldn't have been too much of a hindrance if you could present yourself properly.
If we go with Gove's proposal, leaving school with no qualifications would mark you out as the bottom 20%, competing against a majority who have qualifications. I suspect they would find it difficult to get a break, however nice their handwriting might be.

seeker Tue 18-Dec-12 21:08:05

It's important to remember that the level of functional illiteracy has been going down steadily all through then20th and 21st century. I think we look at the past through rose coloured spectacles. Before compulsory education many wouldn't have gone to school and even after many still wouldn't have. Children with any sort of special need wouldn't have gone to school at all. Neither would many girls. And the treatment of many who did would shock us today.

marriedandwreathedinholly Tue 18-Dec-12 21:18:56

I'm trying to make the distinction between well educated and well qualified and that too often very well qualified people today, are not nearly as well educated as my grandparents were. Yes of course it's a shame they didn't stay at school but it never held them back or prevented them from being successful because they were intrinsically well educated. They would never have made the sort of mistakes some of my childrens' primary school teachers have done: read allowed beautifully, mixing up the x and y axes, etc.

BoneyBackJefferson Tue 18-Dec-12 22:05:32

Part of the issue that I have with the new exams being pushed through is that (as noble says) it puts vocational subjects in the firmly "less able" bracket.

As it stands at the moment I and other teachers of "practical" subjects face a yearly trek down to inclusion/learning support (or whatever the school wishes to call it) with examples of coursework as the pupils are told "its just woodwork/drawing/art" and these people get quite stroppy when they realise that the vocational subjects often require more work consistantly across the board than academic areas.

chloe74 Tue 18-Dec-12 22:38:50

I certainly agree with Boney and nobel, vocational paths do seem to be used as a depository for the "less able". It comes down to people like raven who want to categorize them as sheep or goats. We need to address perceptions like that and give those vocational skills the credit they deserve. They certainly earn a lot more than many 'academics' in they current climate, perhaps that would be a good way to promote them.

ravenAK Tue 18-Dec-12 22:59:32

No, you've misunderstood. I wouldn't mind, but I didn't even use long words.

I think it's a terrible idea to categorise students & trammel their future educational paths at the end of KS3 - post-16 is quite soon enough.

This is why I disagree with the idiot Gove on principle.

In practice, I disagree with him because he has bodged through for the past two years, having his inadequacies pointed out at every turn by the better informed, & continues to attempt to force through changes that simply will not be fit for purpose within his proposed timescale (whether one agrees with them or not) for selfish reasons of political expediency.

AViewfromtheFridge Wed 19-Dec-12 07:10:03

Raven, "I wouldn't mind, but I didn't even use long words." Brilliant. It really is like banging one's head against a brick wall, isn't it?

chloe74 Wed 19-Dec-12 10:02:10

Is it feinted ignorance or blinkered belief that renders an incapacity to comprehend the transformation of the pigs?

Its that kind of socialist attitude that stops us from having a valued vocational/academic education. Any time we try to construct a better system it gets labeled by pretentious people creating a self-fulfilling prophecy to justify their ideology of keeping us all equal at the bottom. I don't know if its indoctrination, or a malevolent jealousy.

Either way, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man can still hand out pyrite medals to everybody.

noblegiraffe Wed 19-Dec-12 10:18:32

Chloe, when I was talking about how different qualifications for the less able would be seen as second best, it was you who called them vocational! Vocational qualifications should not be seen as qualifications for the less able, because they should be available to the bright kids too.

chloe74 Wed 19-Dec-12 11:19:11

noble I wasn't aiming that at you.

I agree (and have said so before) that, different or vocational qualifications for the non-academics have been seen as second best, but we will never change perceptions if we just give up and say it cant be done. It certainly doesn't help that posters use moronic stereotypes to deliberately perpetrate last century's discrimination's.

Its just as wrong to push a less able child into vocational subjects as it is into academic ones. They should be helped in both areas.

My solution would lie along creating more inspirational schools for more areas. We already have them for sports, football, arts, engineering, science etc. Give pushy parents the choice of excellence in vocational subjects (they don't generally have that at the moment). Although most schools would still have balanced curriculum's, if we show that vocational schools can produce excellence it will help change perceptions of those subjects for the rest of the country and put all subjects on a par.

Perhaps after the academic EBacc is up and running Gove could create an ArtBacc? The professional arts/music groups should be setting up free schools, maybe even a chains of them. Start putting their energy to more productive uses other than just protesting.

ravenAK Wed 19-Dec-12 17:43:46

AViewFromTheFridge - well, I don't agree with Gove that 20% of the population are essentially incapable of being taught anything, but you do get the odd one...

Has anyone posted Ofqual's letter? The one that Gove refused to discuss with the select committee, rather to their astonishment...


Select Committee - questions 11 to 35

LaVolcan Wed 19-Dec-12 18:58:38

Thanks for posting that raven. It does not show Gove in a good light. "What is your understanding of OFQALs concerns?" "Flannel, flannel, flannel... I'm refusing to tell you." The select committee must have felt that they were banging their heads against a brick wall.

It would be tempting to hope that any disaster resulting from a rushed implementation would be laid at Gove's door, but if the disaster were to happen countless students would be the ones who paid the price, and not Gove. Who would want that to happen?

Jux Wed 19-Dec-12 19:10:28

I'm shocked at his refusal to answer and his pretence that he can't talk about the content of the letter as it was 'confidential'. No one refuses to talk to a Select Committee unless they've something serious to hide.

TBH, for this refusal he should be sacked.

ravenAK Wed 19-Dec-12 19:18:45

You'd think, wouldn't you?

It took a FOI request from Stephen Twigg to get the letter released, which perhaps tells us something about the level of embarrassment it caused the idiot Gove.

noblegiraffe Wed 19-Dec-12 20:57:05

Wow, I'm not sure how I missed that letter. Gove comes across as a complete dick in that select committee transcript.

Ofqual's concerns seem completely valid, and they think that Gove is rushing this through too. Interesting that they think an EBC model would be incompatible with using the results to judge schools. The issue with single exam boards meaning that the experts on individual subjects who work for competing exam boards being lost from the system was also interesting.

gelo Wed 19-Dec-12 21:08:56

I'd seen the letter but not the transcript (only the press reporting of it) so thanks raven. Interesting that people think the reputation of GCSEs was fine until Gove trashed it - I tend to agree. Rather think the reasons for a new qualification are more political than anything else.

Oh, and interesting to see from the transcript that Gove doesn't think iGCSEs are tiered - the ones I know about are. He really doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

noblegiraffe Thu 20-Dec-12 11:06:34

I would love to hear chloe's thoughts on the letter and Gove's performance and whether it has damaged her confidence in him at all.

ravenAK Thu 20-Dec-12 13:03:49

I quite like chloe74's intransigence.

It's great sparring practice for that parent at Parents' Evening...

I think it's good, actually, that someone's on this thread forcing teachers to explain exactly (& repeatedly!) why we feel like we're putting out deckchairs on the Titanic.

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 14:00:58

Here is the letter that Glenys Stacey wrote to Michael Gove, which he refuses to answer questions about, because he will not put words into her mouth, etc.

I wonder when the letter was put online for all to read?

lljkk Thu 20-Dec-12 14:01:37

(Oh sorry, I am a dunce, didn't see other link to that letter.)

gelo Thu 20-Dec-12 14:03:35

Ofqual put it up on their site the day after (I think - certainly very soon after) Gove refused to divulge it's contents. It would have become public eventually in any case as there had been a freedom of info request for it.

noblegiraffe Sat 22-Dec-12 11:50:47

I don't think Chloe's coming back to comment. sad

I'm guessing if even she can't defend Gove on this, it must be shit.

AViewfromtheFridge Sat 22-Dec-12 13:55:53

No doubt it'll still somehow be the fault of these left-wing liberals though.

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