Michael Gove the Educational secretary has stated that almost every teenager should be able to pass at least five GCSE including maths and English. He also attacked the assumption that some children in school were unable to achieve C grades saying that such views were “acquiescing in failure”.
The new target will place an additional load on teaching resources in many subject areas including maths, English and science. The recently reformatted ICT syllabus also becomes part of the new teaching games that will take some time to assimilate before children can get to grips with the opportunity. Herein lays a conundrum. If the teaching resources are not matched to the needs of students immediately a truanch of children currently passing through the system will not benefit from the new objective. And this is always the case. Countless thousands of children have suffered the throws of political educational initiatives and objectives that have been interrupted, abandoned or superseded. Demoralised teaching resources seek the median in their measured objectives rather pushing the boundaries and learning techniques that could change the way lessons are taught are overwhelmed by the need to hit targets.
In a nominal class of 30 children the teacher aims to get the maximum number of children through the exams and therbye earn the greatest number of points in the schools league table. Sounds laudable but the reality are the gifted children at the top end of the scale, and those at the bottom are often ignored whilst preference is given to children of median ability who will generate the maximum points from exam success. Some of the brightest children drift having switched off through lack of stimulation; those at the bottom of the scale are regarded as needing too much support relative to their chances of success. So where does this leave Michael Gove’s enterprise?
In evidence at the Commons Education Committee the chairman Graham Stuart suggested Mr Gove’s objective appears to raise the bar of academic success further than the current targets. He is concerned that the new target will encourage teachers to further focus on children from better-off families in preference to poor children with lower possibility of exam success. Schools subsequently deemed to be failing measured on the new standard will be caught by the enforced transfer to academy status.
Whilst Graham Stuart questioned the potential of the educational Secretary’s objective, Michael Gove defended his claim that children should not be written off and any school not achieving the standard is not adequately performing. A superb target to set but a greatest concern is where are the teaching resources needed to achieve it.