Now the dust is beginning to settle a little bit with the Covid-19 lockdown, it is and rightly so, giving people the opportunity to reflect upon how we have done things previously.
Looking specifically at our current education provision from reception, right the way through to A-level and university entry, there is a lot we could do to streamline our system.
But before dive headlong into the most radical reform since post-war consensus educational reform of the 1940’s; before we begin to create a flurry of online petitions and ‘Just Giving’ pages, lets take a moment to have a look at ‘what works well’ and then do the ‘even better if!’
“Ban GCSEs – Cull the Six Weeks Summer Hols – Get Rid of Pens!”
Already cries are starting to emerge from virtual staffrooms and facebook pages for:
- the eradication of any examination process
- a complete restructure of the school year
- the abolition of OFSTED as the current inspectorate
- getting rid of GCSEs all together
- an overhaul of the srtucture of the teaching unions
I have absolutely no doubt that this is a prime opportunity to look at ways in which we can streamline and modernise our education system.
There are so many other extreme and radical changes my head is spinning. Many of them have merit. However, the likelyhood of any of these happening are highly unlikely.
We have to be realistic and what’s more – celebrate the many things that we do get right.
Why not tweak GCSEs not throw the baby out with the bath water.
The current GCSE system suits many of our learners it just doesn’t suit them all. Admittedly, we could generalise and say that these are the more able but the fact remains that the exams are working for some.
The problem with GCSEs is that we have adopted a one size fits all system. If we had a variety of examination routes that suited the diverse nature of our young people, that would be a start. The reintroduction of vocational based exams; a wider variety of courses that focused less on irrelevant, content-heavy learning but skills based learning. That could be a really substantial tweak.
Let’s change the way we examine: embrace technology and record answers in a variety of ways which reflect the 21st century.
A complete overhaul in the way in which we examine. Lengthy written exams, some of which can last over two hours, using a pen and paper as a means of recording responses, needs to be looked at.
Embracing technology at the very heart of how we assess, could be revolutionary for some of our learners who are highly articulate, outstandingly intelligent but crippled by undiagnosed dyslexia and dyspraxic traits.
Let’s allow pupils to be assessed using a variety of methods: oral responses, coursework (externally marked); the use of laptops as standard not just perceived as a mechanism for children with special needs.
I think that there should be exams; I think we should mark the end of key stage is with assessment but how we assess is the issue not should we assess.
I always find it interesting that those who are quick to claim that we shouldn’t have formal examinations are those who have taken formal examinations and as a result have been able to reach the very top of their careers – which without the examination they decry so readily they would probably struggled to reach the dizzy heights.
Let’s just take a breath and let the dust settle before we completely change British schools for what could be an even poorer version that what we have now.
Sharon Cawley is the founder and business owner of Conexus Tuition.
Sharon is the Franchisor of Conexus Tuition Franchising.
A teacher with 25 years service and mother of two children, aged 12 and 17 years.