Over the past five years the Department of Education has continuously criticised UK teaching resources over the quality of exams in primary and secondary education. SAT’s are inadequate and manipulated through the “teach to test” syndrome; GCSE exams are too easy and A levels are an scant measure of a student’s real ability. Coupled to the lax approach by the examination boards, it appears exams are a reflection of the educational games being played by the whole teaching fraternity. Time to stop patching up educational policy and start again before it is too late.
Secondary schools complain the ability of students from primary school is overstated in SAT assessments. Employers noticed school leavers with GCSE were ill prepared for employment. Universities commented that improvements in A levels results were not reflected by any improvement in the ability of first year under graduates.
In all areas the receiving institutions bore the burden of re-educating students to bring them up to the required standard. And this rectification is on the increase. Successive Secretary of State for Education have had a crack, educational quangos, schools, exam boards have all failed to deal with the problem effectively. The annual exam results have been greeted by a mixture of elation, deception and dejection. And little has changed over the years apart from the UK gradually slipping down the world league table for educational standards.
The criticism, although vociferous and extensive, has achieved little in effect. Successive Secretaries of State for Education have come and gone leaving a trail of initiatives that have cost a fortune yet achieved little. Head Teachers have learnt how to exist in a highly charged environment. Some have excelled but many have suffered from poor results and questionable exam standards. Omnipotent targets that have driven our teaching resources have generally failed to benefit children educational achievement.
What is needed is a comprehensive root and branch overhaul of education. Incorporating the feedback from schools, exam boards, higher education and industry the plan needs to overcome the pitfalls of the short term thinking of the politician. We need to provide society and industry with educated children that can aspire to developing the UK in the face of growing competition from the world stage. We also need to groom a future Secretary of State for Education who can develop and oversee a world-class system that will be the pride of the UK, not its downfall.