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Dumbing down of education in the UK





watersoul
My son won his place in a selective school in my area through much extra study in his own time because he wanted to get into a school in the top ten for results in England.
The nearest other option was a non-selective poorly performing school which most of his former primary school friends now attend.

This week there has been a rash of proud proclamations from parents on facebook, stating that their children at this school have attained A* or A in Science at GCSE level. (For non UK readers, the GCSE is the certificate awarded at age 16 after 5 years in secondary education)

Our children have only just started their 4th year and this poorly performing school is putting kids through early exams apparently getting amazing results.
A* after 3 years study?! That GCSE can't be worth the paper its printed on yet to any future employer they will have this as evidence of academic achievement.
The school my son is at do not even offer a Science GCSE, he has to take Physics, Chemistry & Biology as separate subjects. He still has another year and 3 quarters of study to go before he takes his exams.

I'm fuming about this as it appears to be a clear case of cheating by the schools.
There is no way you can cram 5 years of study into 3 and state that the students have gained the same amount of knowledge as the A* my son is hoping to achieve himself 2 years from now.

The guided work and home study my son will do for his GCSE's is far more than his former primary school classmates, I just hope higher education establishments and employers see this massaging of figures for what it really is - dumbed down certificates of education.

[/rant]
darthrevan
Figured that schools in the UK might be better than he ones here in the USA but guess not. I know here it seems our schools aren't performing very good.
watersoul
There are definitely good and bad schools all over the world and I guess many different things contribute to the mix, from individual teachers to the local education authorities.

Two of my personal friends are secondary education teachers and when I hook up next with either of them we'll have this conversation and I presume I'll share a transcript here.

My gut instinct with this situation of 'easy' early GCSE's being handed out is that it's got something to do with allocation of budgets/performance related pay and/or other economic reasons, in a world of different examination borads contracted to different schools yet awarding a certificate which supposedly has the same value in a national context.

I struggle to see how any school can cram 5 years of study into 3 then produce so many pupils with A/A* Science GCSE's and claim equal status of the certificates awarded from study at a school which provides the full 5 years of learning before taking the final exams.

It has to be something to do with organisation politics or funding reasons in my mind. I accept and understand that, I'm just angry that with the GCSE being the national standard, my sons exceptional efforts to gain deep knowledge and understanding will not be recognised by this cheapened certificate awarded to students with less understanding of the subject.
Josso
darthrevan wrote:
Figured that schools in the UK might be better than he ones here in the USA but guess not. I know here it seems our schools aren't performing very good.


Not our "state schools" no Wink


I am 21 now when I left secondary things were getting weird, we were the last year to have the intermediate maths paper for example in which the maximum grade is B. Even though I was high Bs in everything I submitted they never moved me up. As as result I have no As on my GCSE qualifications as it was probably my best academic subject. Managed to screw my music GCSE, all my compositions and performances were A at least but I really messed up the big percentage theory test in it which I would actually argue was just wrong especially about areas of electronic music.

No idea of the situation now but GCSEs seemed pretty easy when I did them. I was a severe slacker and I still managed to get a few Bs through just being naturally good at the subjects.
microkosm
I appreciate public education as much as the next person and I owe a lot to those teachers and professors that guided and inspired me. That being said, public education is on the downslope in many places around the world.

This may be slightly off mark with regards to the OP, but ultimately public schooling is a launch point IMO. Sparking the desire for self-education is about as much as one can hope for from public schooling. What really separates the successful from not-so-successful is the desire and ability to learn independently.
Josso
microkosm wrote:
I appreciate public education as much as the next person and I owe a lot to those teachers and professors that guided and inspired me. That being said, public education is on the downslope in many places around the world.

This may be slightly off mark with regards to the OP, but ultimately public schooling is a launch point IMO. Sparking the desire for self-education is about as much as one can hope for from public schooling. What really separates the successful from not-so-successful is the desire and ability to learn independently.


Very good post, also we have to be careful about bias within the curriculum. Ultimately encouraging self-education is I think one of the most important things to teach the next generation.
c'tair
Self-education is an extremely important factor in overall education and I find it a bit shocking that it's not encouraged more. It seems that nowadays school is seen as more of a place to get a piece of paper than to actually learn anything. This might explain why I'm so disenchanted with my college after a few semesters - I'm simply not learning anything and it's taking up my time and resources. I'll just push through because I'm close to the end (hoping it's not loss-aversion bias) but I think I'll stop my education at the associate's degree level and instead focus on reading books and practicing my craft (computer science).

As for the state of education in England - I cannot say anything as I've never studied there nor do I know of anyone who does. But for the US, it seems that colleges are falling for easy money from student loans and are mostly interested in pushing up degree-totting kids with no idea of how to actually perform valuable work.

It's interesting because from what I gather from my Polish friends, there's a similar trend to go for easy degrees in both countries. Degrees like English, Political Science, or Gender studies seem to be all the rage today. At least in Poland people who take this course don't get into soul-crushing debt as a result of that decision. It's just shocking anyone could do it in the US, where an education can easily cost you 20-30 or even 60 thousands dollars. That's a huge investment with a tiny return.

/rant
darthrevan
watersoul wrote:
There are definitely good and bad schools all over the world and I guess many different things contribute to the mix, from individual teachers to the local education authorities.

Two of my personal friends are secondary education teachers and when I hook up next with either of them we'll have this conversation and I presume I'll share a transcript here.

My gut instinct with this situation of 'easy' early GCSE's being handed out is that it's got something to do with allocation of budgets/performance related pay and/or other economic reasons, in a world of different examination borads contracted to different schools yet awarding a certificate which supposedly has the same value in a national context.

I struggle to see how any school can cram 5 years of study into 3 then produce so many pupils with A/A* Science GCSE's and claim equal status of the certificates awarded from study at a school which provides the full 5 years of learning before taking the final exams.

It has to be something to do with organisation politics or funding reasons in my mind. I accept and understand that, I'm just angry that with the GCSE being the national standard, my sons exceptional efforts to gain deep knowledge and understanding will not be recognised by this cheapened certificate awarded to students with less understanding of the subject.


Yeah here is probably some schools that are good. Maybe they should raise the requirement on what the want to be teachers score so Wayne the teachers would be better. Some of the stuff that teachers require kids to get is sometimes ridiculous. I se some o the stuff as not needed to learn.
watersoul
darthrevan wrote:
Some of the stuff that teachers require kids to get is sometimes ridiculous. I se some o the stuff as not needed to learn.

There is an amount of junk taught in every national curriculum, I would imagine, but I had a conversation with a friends 13yr old daughter on the weekend where I was explaining how important sometimes it is to run with what may appear to be useless for a bit, because 'not all the dots had been joined yet'.
She loves the sciences but thought maths boring so I wanted her to understand that the formulas and equations had magical answers which we don't see until all the different bits of the subject are stitched together in our heads. I like to think I saw the eyes of someone who believed me and is gonna give the boring maths 1% more effort (at least) because it may be a big help in the science stuff she is really into Smile
microkosm
Quote:
I had a conversation with a friends 13yr old daughter on the weekend where I was explaining how important sometimes it is to run with what may appear to be useless for a bit, because 'not all the dots had been joined yet'.


This is a good point, and the flip side to the argument of extraneous material taught in schools. Sometimes when you're in the thick of it (as a kid in school) it's difficult to see the forest for the trees. Some things I've learned over the years were worthless to me from an academic standpoint but have taught me life lessons.
deanhills
watersoul wrote:
She loves the sciences but thought maths boring so I wanted her to understand that the formulas and equations had magical answers which we don't see until all the different bits of the subject are stitched together in our heads. I like to think I saw the eyes of someone who believed me and is gonna give the boring maths 1% more effort (at least) because it may be a big help in the science stuff she is really into Smile
You sound as you have a great aptitude for teaching, or coaching yourself! This is right on! Cool
truespeed
Isn't it all about targets in the UK,the more successful a school the more funding they get? So the teachers make sure they get as many passes as possible by making sure the pupils know the questions they will get asked and how to answer them before they sit the exams?
jhonmarvi
My gut instinct with this situation of 'easy' early GCSE's being handed out is that it's got something to do with allocation of budgets/performance related pay and/or other economic reasons, in a world of different examination boards contracted to different schools yet awarding a certificate which supposedly has the same value in a national context.
I struggle to see how any school can cram 5 years of study into 3 then produce so many pupils with A/A* Science GCSE's and claim equal status of the certificates awarded from study at a school which provides the full 5 years of learning before taking the final exams.
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