The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A Levels are not as easy as they say!

From Discovery Education

As well as a Dad I am also a teacher.

I teach History in a lovely school with a supportive staff and well motivated students.

But there is one thing that gets me down about teaching and that is the constant sniping at GCSE and A Level results that you hear every summer, and now throughout the year. I first published this post in April when our esteemed Education Secretary Michael Gove was bashing A Level and GCSE results and the teaching profession in general (again!)

What I hate about the whingeing about A Level results in particular is that it shows a complete lack of respect for the students who have just gained these results and their teachers who have prepared them.

There cannot be many industries where results have been improving year upon year for over a decade. You would have thought that that would be a reason to celebrate. But no, in typical British style the media (cheered on by the politicians (or is the other way round?)) pick holes in their success. The exams must be easier, the exam boards must be corrupt, the weather must be differenter etc etc.

League Tables Are the Cause not the Answer

The sad irony is that the current situation is a product of the politicians obsession with measuring attainment within schools through league tables etc.

It works like this.
Mr Politician (or Ms/ Mrs etc) says "we must have a league table to rank schools by exam results to promote parent choice in education."
Mr Headteacher (or Ms/ Mrs etc) says "we must do well in this league table - so dear teacher what are you doing to make sure your results in History are better than the school down the road"
Mr Teacher says "golly gee, I must make sure that my students do as well as possible in the exam in the summer so I will find out exactly what the exam board are looking for and make sure that my students are fully prepared for this"

Results go up. 

Students now see that it is a lot harder to get into university etc so Master Student (or Miss etc) says "I must rely more and more on what the teacher tells me about how to pass my exam because I want to be a vet and to get into that course I need 2 A* and 1 A minimum"

(One example - the course I completed in 1992 now requires BBC grades - I got CCD) - I was very lazy!)

Result - much improved results, much harder entry requirements for university, much more focused exam based teaching, less independently minded students.

So please, today, when you will no doubt hear Michael Gove leading the assault on A Level (and GCSE next week) students whose crime will be to have done better then their predecessors - please buck the trend and to steal a phrase from David Camcorder "hug an A Level student" and say "well done"

A nice person hugging an A Level student and saying "Well done" 

Speak soon

PS - Despite what I have said above, don't be surprised if you see a slight dip in results this year as I know from hearsay that examiners have been asked to be tougher than before on students - another example of politics creating an unfair system and then (no doubt) blaming the teachers for the drop in results.
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