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Worthless qualifications at state schools

(426 Posts)
Judy1234 Sat 23-Jan-10 21:14:26

Wise words.
Pick solid GCSEs in proper subjects - take a language, take English lit and lang, take maths, geography, history and 2 or 3 proper sciences and get just 8 or 9 in traditional subjects with good grades.

"The headmaster of Harrow has accused many state schools of deceiving children by entering them for “worthless” qualifications. Barnaby Lenon said that grade inflation and a shift to vocational qualifications was masking a failure to teach enough pupils to a good standard.

“Let us not deceive our children, and especially children from poorer homes, with worthless qualifications so that they become like the citizens of Weimar Germany or Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, carrying their certificates around in a wheelbarrow,” he told a conference.

“[Let’s not] produce people like those girls in the first round of The X Factor who tell us they want to be the next Britney Spears but can’t sing a note.”

He cited media studies as an example of a soft subject, for which many schools were keen to enter students because it was easier for them to get a good grade. The real route to a good job in one of the professions, he said, was good grades in traditional academic subjects such as maths, sciences and languages."

bulba2000 Thu 24-Jan-13 18:13:35

Oh yes, and I agree BTEC's need to be linked with relevant vocational options and more needs to be done about getting the kids who take them work placements that will take them beyond 18+. I used to work in recruitment and the amount of unemployed youngsters with a wealth of BTECs and NVQ's and other qualifications in subjects noone had heard of, up against those who had graduated with 2:1s in degrees from respectable institutions...they stood no chance.

bulba2000 Thu 24-Jan-13 18:04:42

The problem doesn't lie specifically with the subjects offered, but the aspirations and expectations set by parents, peers, the media and the school in general. After all, noone is forcing these kids to choose worthless subjects. A school won't offer the subjects if there is no demand and no benefit from taking them.

Imagine two children of a similar academic ability.

One child comes from an average/below-average background, has nothing to do but watch TV and play with her phone in the evenings, and has a parent who works in a supermarket (actually pretty similar to my background!) with no positive role models she personally knows and no encouragement to go for any particular career that suits her. She chooses Media Studies, Music Technology and some random BTEC at 6th Form because it's what her friends are all doing and it seems cooler than the more traditional, academically rigorous subjects which lead to weird and unfamiliar career paths she has no direct experience of. To be a doctor or a lawyer, she thinks, just isn't for people like her and anyway, she doesn't know what she needs to do to get there. Her mum is always moaning about having no money so she realises the value of going to work ASAP and ends up in a supermarket, just like her mum, when she leaves school.

The other child comes from a privileged background. Her father is a partner in a law firm and her mother is a teacher. The child is encouraged to be the best they possibly can be and is exposed to a wealth of cultural and professional opportunities as well as hob-nobbing with her father's lawyer friends and the promises of internships during the university holidays - it is naturally assumed she will go to university in order to get a good career. You know the rest.

If the only positive role models a child has is the crap that ends up on X-Factor, of course they're going to see that as the only viable career path that leads to success. What these kids need is the kind of careers education that gives clear and simple advice on how they can get to make the most of their skills and talents, and educate them out of the notion that careers are just for other people.

ToeCap Tue 15-Jan-13 09:27:28

Is there such a thing as a FAIL with a BTec??

senua Tue 15-Jan-13 09:23:35

*The advantages they will have over A Level students are:

1) Being able to research and present a report using the Harvard referencing system*

DS is producing a 2,000 word essay for A2, using Harvard ref.

seeker Tue 15-Jan-13 08:47:27

Well, dd's friend's Performing Arts BTec was much more demanding than dd's GCSE!

sashh Tue 15-Jan-13 06:28:04

What FallenMadonna said.

I teach Level 3 BTEC Health and Social Care.

Most students will progress to nursing courses.

The advantages they will have over A Level students are:

1) Being able to research and present a report using the Harvard referencing system

2) Knowing how to wash their hands to nursing standards

3) Two years work experience in a care enviroment

4) Being able to work consistently for two years

5) Understanding of infection control

6) Understanding of Health and Safety

BTECs at school should IMHO be in practical things, so that they can get a job / apprenticeship / go onto college.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 14-Jan-13 23:45:15

BTECs are NOT a waste of time.
They need to be the right ones, and they need to be done by the right people for the right reasons. But to dismiss them with a wave of your hand is just ignorant really.

seeker Mon 14-Jan-13 23:45:05

I got really excited because I didn't realise it was a zombie thread and there was a poster I loved on it, and I thought she had come back. I'm really sad now. sad

MsAverage Mon 14-Jan-13 23:35:40

Qualification worth as much as we value them. There is nothing itself in Old Greek that makes it "superior" to Business Studies, and nothing itself in Media Studies which is "inferior" to Classic Civilizations. All the "inferiority" is in the hands of the uni admissions makers. Since they were taught by Harrow-minded folks, no wonder that Old Greek type of rubbish wins over the Media Studies type of rubbish.

themottledcat Mon 14-Jan-13 21:45:05

I was on this thread under a different name. How come we are all talking to 'Xenia' but 'Xenia' seems to be under the name of Judy1234 now!!!! What happened there?? Am I missing something or have i lost my marbles? (I still stand by my comments though)

Whathaveiforgottentoday Mon 14-Jan-13 17:17:15

I haven't read all the pages but.... couldn't agree more. I worked at a school that introduced BTEC science to KS4 instead of GCSE's (solely for the purpose of getting the 5A*-C grades up in my opinion as the BTEC was worth 4GCSE's, although of course this is not what management said). I left because I disagreed with it so strongly and there are only so many times you can complain before you get a reputation as a trouble maker.
Totally inapropriate preparation for A levels in science and disadvantaged whole cohorts of students. Bloody politics and league tables.

lljkk Mon 14-Jan-13 16:53:21

it is 3 years old, but it has some interesting background info about Xenia in it! i thought someone had bumped it to try to out her IRL. <<Muse>>

ToeCap Mon 14-Jan-13 15:37:39

BTECs are a waste of time.

Someone I know who works for a huge well known company bins CV's from applicants with BTECs as soon as they see them.

rosarugosa Thu 10-Jan-13 17:43:19

I do but it is relevant more now than ever. Students are being fed into these BTECs for the wrong reasons entirely and I am attempting to illustrate just how the FE colleges operate and how some BTECs are entirely unsuitable depending on the subject area of course.

titchy Thu 10-Jan-13 17:35:45

You do realise this thread is three years old.....

ethelb Thu 10-Jan-13 16:52:01

Completely agree. I am 26 and my age group were exposed to a load of bollocks about vocational courses. Clever poor children (I went to a good state school in London) did vocational courses as they were being pushed by all the careers advice, while average richer kids did employable qualifictions. And there was a kind of iron curtain around these facts. No one discussed them. To even bring it up as a possibility was to be 'elitist'.

Since Oxbridge and the major private schools have started speaking out about what you really need to do to suceed in 2013 I think it is a lot fairer. Oxbridge and other Russells' were recruiting according to undisclosed requirements (to the first time university attendee) all through the 90s and early 00s and it was very, very unfair.

Its the main reason I don't know if I will ever vote Labour.

rosarugosa Thu 10-Jan-13 16:46:03

Just started teaching on BTEC Applied law and having taught law at Levels 3 and 6 (Hons Degree level) for 12 years I am appalled at the low standards expected of students. The level is not 3 more like 2 at best. Most of the students are only taking this qual because their chosen BTEC is not available to them and the ones who do want to study law simply turn up, take the handout and chat. This is partly down to the method of assessment i.e., they only have to complete courseowrk which is assessed and graded and of course no one need fail but it is so frustrating as they ae not learning anything at all.

Law is an academic subject and, in my view and other law lecturers, totally unsuitable for BTEC. It's not a hands on subject and requires in depth research and study. I feel for those students in my groups who want to progress to study law at University (that is 2 in total) because they will struggle to follow the course having not developed the necessary skills.

I would add that the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) level 3 law and legal practice course is a definite level 3 and prepares students for Level 6 quals.

hydeee Tue 22-Jun-10 16:15:07

Well said Mumeeee. It's nice to see someone stand up for media studies and drama studies. My son has done both at GCSE and really enjoyed them. I hate all this negativity about both subjects.

mumeeee Tue 22-Jun-10 10:32:15

There is a place for vocational qualifications. Not every young person is bright enough or acadmically minded. University is not for everyone. So for those who prefer to go a non academic route these vocatioanl courses are good and it does not mean they are less of a person because they have not top grades in academic subjects at GCSE. Media studies actually takes quite a lot of hard work. I wish everyone would let young people take the subjects they want to. Yes encorage them to get GCSE's if they can but also let them see they are not worthless if they want to take Drama rather than another subject. DD3 tok Drama and Medis studies among other things for GCSE. She then went onto take English A level and Btech Performing Arts for A level at college. She has now just completed her first year at University doing an Acting for Media and Stage degree. Before anyone says well that's a bit worthless,It is what she's good at and what she wants to do. She can go on to teach or in toJounalism after her course if she wants to. She has already had to make two filmsfrom scratch and she has lots of essays as well as practical assignments. DH and I are proad of her for sticking to what she wants to do ( it was very difficult to get into)and would never have insisted she did something different.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Sun 20-Jun-10 19:41:23

I agree with him that 8 or 9 GCSEs is enough, but don't agree with him appearing to "dis" vociational qualifications. What we need is more people doing genuine vocational quals that lead to apprenticeships and less people goint to universities.

teachermum2 Sat 19-Jun-10 16:17:03

I have just looked through some of these posts; a lot of discussion seems to be on how qualifications will benefit children in the future. I am a teacher and think their is a big difference between education and traing.

Training prepares you a vocation or particular job whereas education is a wonderful thing that allows you to become a cultured adult with an appreciation for the beautiful and interesting.

Exams at the end just show that you have learnt something from the experience. 16 year olds shouldn't be worrying about how future employers will view them. If they are educated, they will be viewed highly regardless of their official qualifications. And they may well be happier people too.

violetqueen Mon 15-Feb-10 08:45:53

But the report is discussing social mobility
and income - you can't just infer that the effect they describe is due to loss of grammar schools which are not mentioned here .
^ Comparing surveys of children born in the 1950s and the 1970s the researchers went on to examine the reason for Britain's low, and declining, mobility. They found that it is in part due to the strong and increasing relationship between family income and educational attainment. For these children, additional opportunities to stay in education at age 16 and age 18 disproportionately benefited those from better off backgrounds. For a more recent cohort born in the early 1980s the gap between those staying on in education at age 16 narrowed, but inequality of access to higher education has widened further: while the proportion of people from the poorest fifth of families obtaining a degree has increased from 6% to 9%, the graduation rates for the richest fifth have risen from 20% to 47%.^
And in any case the quote from my previous post from the same link says that * more * people from poorer backgrounds are going to University .

I don't understand how this can be read as evidence supporting an argument that fewer grammar schools results in less people going to University.
And if anyone has waded through this post and is still with me - how do you post in italics ? The ^ thingy doesn't seem to have desired effect !

MillyR Sun 14-Feb-10 16:01:32

VioletQueen, yes it does say so in that link. It compares children born in the 50s, who went through the Grammar/technical/secondary modern education system with children born in the 70s, who mostly did not.

violetqueen Sun 14-Feb-10 09:10:22

Did anyone read through this link
posted by Xenia ?
It was in answer to my question ( page 6 of this thread ) about figures backing up her claim that since grammar schools were abolished fewer poorer children get through to university .
I may well be missing something but I can't see any evidence in this link to support the claim.
Grammar schools don't seem to be mentioned , university entrance figures for poor backgrounds are
^Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Last week we showed that state school admissions to our leading universities had grown by 35% between Autumn 1997 and 2002, compared with a 22% overall increase in numbers. Some commentators argued that this did not necessarily represent a major step towards widening access but our latest analysis shows that a number of these entrants are from poorer backgrounds. Since 1997, there has been a 49% growth in the admission of students from low participation neighbourhoods, well over the 20% increase experienced by more affluent areas"^
But maybe I've missed something ?

Lilymaid Sat 13-Feb-10 17:14:20

My non-academic DS did Media Studies GCSE as an after-school club in Y9 over 3 terms. Nuff said!

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