Change for Change's Sake

*For the "Movellas Gets Political Contest*. The governments shoddy "education revolution" is disagreed with by schools and universities so why are the government still rushing it through?

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1. Coalition Chaos

Who is this man? And how does he affect your life?

This is the Rt Hon Michael Gove, the current minister of education. His changes to the GCSE systems have already affected around 1.8 million UK students and are set to affect many more in the near future as the changes to the A Levels are rushed through Parliament. The changes to GCSEs so far include:

-Getting rid of Unit 2 of English Language when most students have completed it.

-Changing module courses so that all exams have to be taken at the end of Year 11.

-Making huge increases in grade boundaries without warning students. 

This meant many students performed a lot worse than they were predicted causing crushing disappointment up and down the country. The change in format is also putting a lot of pressure on students all at the end of the year. 

So, why is this a problem? Surely exams are too easy?

It's true that universities are putting a lot of pressure on the latest exams, saying that they do not differentiate enough between pupils of different ability. However, the plans do not solve the problems. The modules have not been adapted for the exams being taken all at the end, meaning that often it's not "what you know" but "when was I meant to have learnt that?" "which exam is this meant for". Meanwhile in the rest of the UK primary schools are struggling for places, some have portable classrooms in the playground and as a result of this performance is decreasing. So why can't Gove focus on improving primary school performance in order for later performance to improve as those students come through the school. It's unfair to suddenly change the specifications now when the jump between ordinary school and national qualifications is already so big. It's the primary schools that need to teach students more as secondary schools are being left playing catch up.

What are Gove's future plans?

Changing AS Levels completely for the Sixth Form entry in Sept 2015

-Making exams more "rigorous".

-Completely getting rid of Controlled Assessments.

What affect will this have and what would be a better solution?

Universities and schools have already expressed the fact that they disagree with these changes, nonetheless the government are still steam rolling ahead as planned. The governments plan to only let students AS Levels results count if they say from the start that they only want to do AS Level in that subject. If the students want to continue that subject they will have to retake the units to count towards their A Level. Universities are now talking about reintroducing entrance examinations in order to make offers.

Controlled Assessments do need to change. Different teachers interpret the rules differently and mark at their own discretion. Often teachers give students too much help meaning that its unfair on students who's teachers follow the rules. However, exams aren't for everyone. Einstein once said "Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid". He was right, some people just aren't good with exams and they're not very realistic or practical either. So what would be a better solution? Less input from teachers. Supervision by impartial teachers, external marking to avoid bias and better enforcement of less vague rules. 

A reply from my MP!

My local MP James Wharton gave the following reply when I voiced my concerns. I'll admit I was surprised and glad of the reply. However regarding his comment to the Unified Mark Schemes, if you talk to any of last year's Year 11 their grades were down considerably from what they were predicted and deserved. This will affect them later in life as they compete for jobs against older students who had easier, less "rigorous" exams. 

Dear Becky,

 

Thank you for your further email.  I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you, but I’ve had an extremely busy few weeks!  We do receive lots of campaign emails but it is particularly good to get people’s individual views, which naturally carry more weight.

I do understand your concerns  in these areas.  Regarding the ‘guinea-pig’ idea, I was in the first year who did AS levels and I remember the feeling of being wary of the changes being made. In spite of this it is important to remember that when changes are instigated, somebody needs to be first to experience these changes.

I have spoken to Ministers and looked at the changes myself and although understanding your fears, I do not believe that these changes will necessarily weaken results. The new system is aimed at ensuring that the best students get the best grades. Although comparisons are made between year groups the use of Uniform Mark Scales will ensure there are not drastic variations between year groups.

Overall I do hope these changes will improve the quality of examinations and reinstall trust in the exam system as a whole. I would like to thank you for getting back in touch and please do not hesitate to do so in the future.

With all best wishes,

James

Do you agree? Comments please!

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