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Scrapping GCSEs

(113 Posts)
gelatinous Wed 20-Jun-12 23:46:43

Daily mail article here.

Good idea or not?

danebury Thu 21-Jun-12 06:49:05

I can't decide. I'm a parent, a teacher and a Governor - and I sat O'Levels. (And Maths CSE, but let's not go there). Look at this though:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/20/newsid_2516000/2516847.stm

VivaLeBeaver Thu 21-Jun-12 06:55:43

I feel for the kids who will be some of the first few years to go through this.

Its bound to be badly thought out and poorly prepared. The kids' results will be what suffers.

<only a parent not a teacher>

gelatinous Thu 21-Jun-12 07:29:10

I can't decide either. There are arguments both ways for sure, and the pace of change is definitely alarming.

sicutlilium Thu 21-Jun-12 07:33:34

I wonder whether more schools will switch to the well-established IGCSE until it all settles down?

Zippylovesgeorge Thu 21-Jun-12 07:42:38

I was one of those poor teenagers who got caught in the last change over - I did a mix of o'levels, cses and the new GCSEs - it was a complete shambles and many of us didn't achieve the expected grades due to the confusion.

Many of us ended up resitting the core subjects later on in order to gain decent grades.

If they decide to change again it must be done properly and not muddled as before.

ChickensHaveNoLips Thu 21-Jun-12 07:50:37

It scares the shit out of me. I have a child entering year 7 this year and don't really want him caught up in a fuckaroo.

tectime Thu 21-Jun-12 07:55:52

As a parent, and a worker in the workplace I think the return of O Levels and CSEs is laudible. We have many recruits from teh Far East who are better educated; like it or not we need to benchmark with those countries - as they are our big competitors.

Change is inevitable in this modern world, along with its workplaces. I just hope that teachers are given the necessary resources and time. Equally, I hope that teachers will embrace the change.

gazzalw Thu 21-Jun-12 07:57:12

What it will probably mean though is that the GCSE cohort who have over-achieved (and some of whom might not have done so well with more rigorous exams) will look down on those following on who have achieved more realistic grades in line with their true abilities....

tectime Thu 21-Jun-12 08:00:11

gazzalw - I don not think your reasons are robust enough to warrant the prevention of the long overdue changes.

OddBoots Thu 21-Jun-12 08:01:25

I was too busy having a rant starting my own thread to see this, I hope no-one minds if I copy my message into here:

My ds is in Y8 and if reports are to believed this means he will be one of the last to take GCSEs.

That would be okay if the GCSEs were being left alone until the change but it looks like just before they scrap them they are going to make GCSEs harder so he (and others his age) will still have GCSE on their CV so they will be unfairly compared grade wise to those before. Then on top of that they will be hit by A Level changes too.

It feels like they are being set up to fail before they even start the course. For various reasons I am probably over-reacting but I am absolutely raging about the unfairness of it all.

tectime Thu 21-Jun-12 08:01:39

apologies, but an amendment to posting of 08.00

azzalw - I don not think your reasons are not robust enough to warrant the prevention of the long overdue changes.

magentadreamer Thu 21-Jun-12 08:05:34

The thing that really pisses me off is the way GCSE exams are portrayed as a soft option. I'm ancient and sat O levels. I remember my English Language O level we rocked up did a comprehension paper and a writing paper end of. DD has: 3 Speaking CA, 2 creative writing CA's, one studying written language - extended literature text CA , one studying spoken language CA and two external exam papers - good old comprehension under a new guise and a writing paper. I think my 2 hours or so of exams was by far the easiest option!

gelatinous Thu 21-Jun-12 08:08:01

Oddboots you are right to be concerned, that sounds a very unfair position to be in. If they are making this change they should leave GCSEs alone first.

AdventuresWithVoles Thu 21-Jun-12 08:08:41

My tuppence:
People easily forget the drawbacks of old-style O-levels/IGCSEs.
As a foreigner I've always thought the old system (so much pressure on the end & mega-cramming, I have seen it in action at Uni 17 yrs ago & recently with friends' DC who only do IGCSEs) was and is a loony system to measure attainment & ensure knowledge retention.
I cannot see why old-style is automatically guaranteed to be more rigorous.
DC (includes current y5 & y7) will do alright with either system, I suppose, so can't be bothered to care that much any more.
I'm not afraid of change-over, I think the draft proposal should not have been leaked, though, let them think the details thru next time before the proposal gets publicly debated.

tectime Thu 21-Jun-12 08:09:09

I actually feel elated by the new changes. We will now be able to hold our own with our Far Eastern (more hungrier) competitors.

wordfactory Thu 21-Jun-12 08:47:05

I copmpletely support it, and have DC who wll begin GCSEs in 2014 ie the first year this comes into force.

I know their year will be a tough one, but I still think it's worth it. W
Why?
Because I want their O levels to mean somehting. I want them to be an indication of intelligence and commitment.

These days we all know that a GCSE can be got in a numbe rof ways.
Exam board cherry picking.
Modules.
Resits of modules.
Assessment ie you write an essat, your parents check it, your teacher marks it, then you learn it offby heart and regurgitate it.
Orals where you know in advance what the questions will be.

It's a farce!

Children are capable of so much more than this.

Kez100 Thu 21-Jun-12 09:02:02

Change of name so anything harder is understood - good

Expecting 75% of children to sit them. - I think not. Im my time (O level era) about 20% sat them. About 60% did CSE and 20% left school sitting nothing.

Having CSE being functional skills based and O levels academic will kill the opportunitues of the late starter or those with a poor primary base education because the decision on which to study for will have to be made much earlier.

He needs to sort Primary education first. - Otherwise the transition requirements will be too great.

He needs to allow one year sixth form to cover O levels for those who do CSEs under the new system - to allow for late starters to recover to O level standard.

The speed of change - considering the next two years is already an unknown for current year 9 children - will cause errors to be made. It needs time as, with time, it is possible the current GCSE structure could be maintained and stabilised in grades and the current iGCSE or international O level be tweaked to be used as an 'extended paper'. It would save a huge cost doing that.

breadandbutterfly Thu 21-Jun-12 09:13:39

I have a dd who will be in the first year of the new qualifications and I think it is a complete nightmare. Firstly, the Tories will almost certainly be out of office by 2016, so the new, probably Labour , govt, will enter to be faced with some half-started and totally undesired changes. If they then try to return to GCSs it will be a complete shambles. Plus the dates state that those doing exams in 2016, like my dd, will sit new Maths, English and Science O levels, but no mention of other subjects, whic apparently 'won't be ready'. But GCSEs won't be recognised. So what exactly will they be sitting in other subjects??

Plus one exam board sounds very nice in subjects where there is an agreed universal body of knowledge, like maths, say. But what about subjects like English or History? Will all pupils across the UK have to read th same 3 books or study the same 2 periods of history or whatever? Doesn't sound very desirable.

And all this is happening at the same time that A Levels are being revised! Poor secondary school teachers, they won't know whether they're coming or going.

tectime - I've taught lots of Chinese and other Far Eastern people doing Masters here and the average standard is far lower than UK students at the equivalent level - don't beleieve everything you read about needing to compete with the threat from the far east. In most of those countries, their derees are only about equivalent to our Levels in standard.

I don't see what's so fantastic about O Levels - I was the last year to do them and on the whole, I think GCSEs are better - particularly insofar as they are one qualification only, so candidates aren't labelled as inferior by being made to sit a lower qualification, as used to happen with O Levels and CSEs. Plus in some subjects, like history, which went from being rather easy rote learning to skills-based, I think the GCSEs were actually much harder and more stretching. Certainly my dd's lessons generally seem to teach at a higher level than my (top of the league tables) grammar did back when I was at school.

Those who focus on dumbing down now seem to have an unduly rosy-eyed view of education in the past. The truth was it was pants and a shockingly high proportion of school leavers left with NO QUALIFICATIONS AT ALL. Which is probably what Gove and the Tories want - to ensure that our proles stop being so uppity and aspiring to ideas above their station, like university. They should eat their gruel and work for free and be grateful for it. hmm

genug Thu 21-Jun-12 09:24:07

In the world out there, O levels have never gone away, and there are iGCSEs too. Nothing to stop schools lobbying for access to "proper O levels" and recently iGCSEs access was extended to state schools. Perhaps school departments should opt for these, stable, products to manage the uncertainty of a new experiment? Their "quality" is viewed positively.

I wish for a world where technical and practical talent could be sought and nurtured/ disciplined into a worthwhile future for those who don't fit as well in an academic place. Meanwhile, the possible challenges in academic assessment that are proposed are relatively easy to address, IMHO.

germyrabbit Thu 21-Jun-12 09:26:54

speaking as someone who did one year and a half of some o levels, then got dropped to cses i can categorically say it's a shite idea for people who fall in the middle! the cse coursework was completely different to o levels!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 21-Jun-12 09:31:04

I think it's too swingeing and undoubtedly not been properly thought through...

I do think there is a case for a single exam board - it's daft that you can pick good subjects and get good grades and then find that some admissions tutors will think the exam board used wasn't good enough, and not fair since children have no say in it.

I don't know whether a single exam is always the best way to measure everything, although taking exams isn't a bad skill to have. However with maths, dd has been doing exams throughout year 10 and notching up her grades as she goes, and I think it's been very good - they'll be done with it early and are starting on further maths, which I don't suppose you could do if everything was focussed on one exam next June.

It isn't quite true that parents and teachers can help in advance - IME a controlled assesment is just that (dd has one today, I'll ask her this afternoon). And her French teacher was telling me how hard it is when you want to help but know you can't.

I also think continual assesment at some level - ie doing things that matter and are going to actually count - throughout years 10 and 11 is a good thing in terms of maintaining focus and commitment, whereas if it's all working up to June of year 11, you presumably risk losing more of them along the way.

I do feel for dd2 who'll do hers in summer 2016 though. I guess even if this shower have gone by then (which I doubt) sad things will be fucked up beyond repair for a while.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 21-Jun-12 09:32:35

But I do agree there are too many resits, especially at A level, and this gives students at university some very unrealistic ideas. They do seem to take it for granted they can have another bash if they don't do very well the first time, and are quite upset that they can't.

seeker Thu 21-Jun-12 09:35:02

At a risk of being accused of banging my particular drum again- in selective areas( and there will be more of them under this government, mark my words) guess which schools will be doing the lower tier exams........

BonnieBumble Thu 21-Jun-12 09:43:13

Whilst I agree that change needs to happen, I am completely opposed to the return of the 'O' level which will just create a two tier system and penalise disadvantaged children.

There will also be a mess when it is introduced. Dh was in the first intake to take GCSEs he failed Maths, got a 'U' grade, he needed Maths A level so studied for it via distance learning and achieved an A grade. At university he was awarded a prize for achieving the highest mark in his Maths module. He has an A at A level, has now studied Maths as a module in his masters degree and yet he failed Maths GCSE. I was in the second intake and people who were expected to do well were failing random subjects. It was years before the teachers/examiners got to grips with it. Why should our children have to go through the same?

Make sure the grade boundaries are sensible, scrap all the module resits and the GCSE will be more rigorous. No need to introduce a whole new qualification.

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