Posts Tagged ‘educational exams’

Calm Before the Storm As Students Complete Educational Exams

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

As students enter that delightful but short-lived period of exam relief how many students have mixed emotions? Did they perform well; give their best, glad that finally it is all over! Buried amongst the range of emotions is one that should be shouted by all students from the rooftops. Did I receive the best education I deserve?

The educational journey is around 10 years long, from primary to GCSE at secondary level, 15 years if you add “A” levels and a degree. During this formative era of a young persons life there can be massive changes in the economy, society, commerce and technology. Diseases can be eradicated and new ones emerge. It is possible to endure three completely different government manifestos and personalities. The last 15 years has seen the shape, size and fortunes of the European Economic Community evolve dramatically. Equally the recriminations over its size and wasteful spending overshadow much of the work achieved. We are lost in a maelstrom of good and bad PR over the EU. Possibly no one living has the true measure of the complexity of the organisation. As our ex students enter employment they will now need to operate within the endless laws and boundaries developed by the EU whilst they’ve been at school.

The political landscape has evolved. Educational budgets have waxed and waned. Money earmarked to support a brave new world of educational initiatives has been spent, wasted, withdrawn or absorbed by other superseding initiatives. Currently budgets for  maths teaching resources are to be  “stolen” by primary schools to pay for the free infant school meals programme.

Whilst we can applaud the free school meals initiative, aimed at providing nourishment to improve the attention and attainment in infant school, the champion driving the initiative in the government looks extremely unlikely to survive the 2015 general election. This leaves the possibility the initiative, like so many of its predecessors, will be consigned to the history books.

The average tenure of an educational secretary is 18 months. Michael Gove is the exception with four years under his belt, and before that three years as opposition “Education Secretary”. Instead of instigating a strategic approach based on this experience his tenure is beset with whims and U-turns. The rank and file of Headteachers and teaching staff are loggerheads with the Department For Education. Edicts remain unopened and sit forlornly on the school office shelves awaiting their inevitable replacement. E-mails from the educational secretary remain unopened in the inbox. This standoff is not just a fight between doctrine and pedagogy it results in devastating collateral damage to students passing through the system.

The ultimate measure of the success of the educational system is the suitability of students and graduates in employment. After years of despondency during the recession when graduates struggled to find fitting employment, topical feedback reveals employers are now struggling to find graduates of the right calibre.

This must be a flaw in the suitability of an educational system that fails to match a students’ ability with the needs of employment. A lamentable situation that requires prompt redress if we are to produce employees able to support the UK in world markets. The key issue is where within a government’s transitory structure lies a strategist able to design a system that can have the desired outcome at the end of a gestation period of 15 years.

Recent criticism from employer’s HR departments who bemoan the poor quality of graduate applications is rather hypocritical. Many employers complain application forms contain mistakes caused by inadvertent cut-and-paste that includes a previous company name. Do they think they are the only employer the candidate has applied to?  Yet most HR departments fail to acknowledge candidates who have invested possibly three hours completing unique application forms. At best the candidate may receive advice of the status of application by text or e-mail or the ultimate crass cop out – “if you have not heard from us within six weeks you can assume your applications been unsuccessful”. Both parties are guilty of slipping standards but is this indicative of poor preparation and a lack of understanding in the work ethic due to a gap in their education.

Change is here to stay, so says the maxim, but we must also identify the next generation educational programme that is fit for purpose allowing students to emerge in 2030, after 15 years, with an education they can be proud of. The real problem is commiserating with those students who emerge in the meantime who spot the flaw in the present system.

Examinations Are Made Too Easy To Appease Authorities Not Children

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Every child likes to pass GCSE and A level exams to demonstrate ability, recognition of a job well done in school and as a precursor to a job in industry or place in university. But many observers believe we are lowering the educational relevance by playing games with the standards. In advance of the results due out this week along with the inevitable flood of angst, perhaps now is the time to scrap the GCSE and A level grades and replace them with examinations matched to the needs of universities and industry.

A notable critic from the world of science and chemistry believes too many people have vested interests in maintaining low educational standards.  Dr. Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, condemns politicians, examination bodies, schools and educational quangos of collectively lowering the educational standards.  He believes corporate bodies do not want to upset middle class parents who recognise exam results as a primarily measure of society’s expectations rather than true academic performance.

Many schools, hounded by league tables, see quantity rather quality as their prime objective.  Although the exam regulators have twice recently attempted to install tougher GCSE exams through the examination bodies little has been enforced. Proving educational quangos have little real benefit or clout Dr Pike believes the needs of universities and industry has failed to be incorporated in the curriculum. “This is not a broken system that has to be fixed it is a corrupt edifice that must be razed to the ground and rebuilt” he said.

Stern words from an eminent leader in the science educational world.  If we accept the future destiny requires the UK to evolve in a rapidly changing world such significant observations from the likes of Dr. Pike cannot be ignored.  Criticism of the standard of GCSE and A levels has been widespread for years, yet little corrective action has been achieved.  No wonder, if school league tables and parental expectations continue to be the focus rather than the demands of industry, we are unlikely we can expect change.  This will be a disaster. To continue as we are we would end up with every child being awarded a grade A in all subjects – just by being there.

The GCSE and A level results could end up as a junk bond; a worthless qualification and as much use as the MBA degree offered on line in two weeks.  The exam boards such as Edexcel, although willing to work with Ofqual to get the balance right, need to review their position.  Rather than maintaining  a conciliatory position and clearly floundering in their duties they must opt to take a fundamental leadership role.
A significantly higher qualification standard needs to be introduced. We cannot afford to let universities and industry criticise the standard and relevance of the exams. We at keen2learn believe this move needs expediency.  Many children parents may reel at the significance of such a move, but the changes in global employment opportunities may otherwise leave our children out in the cold. We need a Department of Education that strategically has the courage to seize the initiative and adopt the moves to introduce the changes quickly despite the cost cutting era we are in.  We are duty bound to provide our children with continuing education that is fit for purpose and  avoid the continuation of the faltering soft option where exam questions can be answered by reading yesterday’s newspaper.

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