Sunday, March 15, 2009


I think what I’m about to write will be regarded as unpopular and a little controversial!
I’m coming to the end of my fourth year in education. I work in an “outstanding” secondary school with some wonderful, inspirational teachers (who are also lovely friends). However, I’ve come to the conclusion that the current education system is fatally flawed. Emphasis is concentrated on a school’s success – essentially, its examination results. In days gone by, it seemed to me that examinations tested the pupils. Today, I think this is no longer the case. Yes, I accept that young people seem to be under more pressure these days, but I think some of this revolves around changing life-styles (ie. outside school), peer pressure and expectations. For example, when I was at school(!), we used to have “proper” exams in all subjects THREE times a year. I remember that, in the equivalent of Years10+11, we used to get three lots of homework every night and four on Thursdays and seven over the weekend!!
Thanks to league tables and the like, examinations are now used to test schools (and teachers). Sadly, schools can’t really afford to allow pupils to fail because it will reflect badly on them. As a result, in very many instances, pupils are having to be spoon-fed information to enable them to achieve their “target grades”. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of amazingly gifted students - but there are also a large number of lazy pupils who seem to feel that it’s their right to pass their exams with minimum effort. One of the knock-on effects of this system is that, where students choose to study A Levels, there are a lot of them who find the step up to sixth form education very challenging because they’ve been taught to pass exams rather than to be able to think for themselves (I’ve just had to review some A Level assignments in Information Technology and was appalled at the number of students who seemed unable to string words together in English, let alone put across coherent argument!).
Yet, despite this, year after year, GCSE and A Level results have steadily improved.
I frankly don’t accept that standards HAVE got better. I’m afraid I think we’re all just kidding ourselves.
PS: this all sounds very negative doesn't it! don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my job - my school is excellent and the teachers are just amazing; there are lots of huge positives in education too!


Alice said...

All sounds very true to me dad. Just hard to see it really changing isn't it? x

Alice said...

Just seen this:

bigdaddystevieB said...

The BBC website link makes interesting reading – although I certainly don’t wholly agree with what’s outlined. I’m actually part of a “SEAL” (social and emotional aspects of learning) group at school where social and emotional aspects of learning have been identified as a key focus for working with some children. I’m well aware that there are lots of children who have difficulties in understanding and managing their feelings and, in my limited experience, this often relates to pupils with behaviour problems and/or attendance issues. Working in this way can certainly help motivate students and help them become more resilient in the face of setbacks. I agree with the comment: ”there was a danger the more schools taught emotional well-being, the less parents would take responsibility”. The problem is, again in my limited experience, the children who most need help are those from dysfunctional family backgrounds! I’m afraid it’s a vicious circle….
hugs x