Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sixth form options

Last night was “sixth form options evening” at school. I have very little to do with the sixth form – apart from chatting to pupils who have crossed my path at various times over previous years. You can get into our sixth form (in theory) if you achieve a minimum of 6 Cs at GCSE. The problem is that our school is so good at getting pupils to achieve very good GCSE results that we end up with accepting pupils into the sixth form who perhaps shouldn’t be there and for whom the step up to A Levels comes as an enormous shock. The system effectively encourages schools to “spoonfeed” pupils so that they pass their exams (obviously, the brighter ones don’t need this and will be successful anyway) – it’s not the pupils who are examined these days, it’s the schools! And, of course, this is often repeated for A Levels – with pupils being schooled (again, spoonfed in my view) to pass.
The trouble is, it seems to me, that for some of these “successful” students, the world of university education or the “real world” of work will come as an almighty shock to the system. It’s there that they’ll be “found out” – when there’s no longer anyone around to spoonfeed them in the way they’ve become accustomed… or maybe I’ve just become very cynical in my old age!


just Gai said...

While I'm not going to argue about exams - more and more importance is being awarded to them and I share your concerns that students are being at least partly taught to them - I do believe that young people (or the onces that I have come across) are better prepared for university than I was. There is much more emphasis placed on individual research, analysis and presentation than there was when I was at school. It is just a pity that the weight of marks appears to be moving from coursework to examination which suits some, but not all, students.

bigdaddystevieB said...

I absolutely agree with you Gareth that very many young people ARE far better prepared for university than I was, but I’m also aware of a few who frankly SHOULDN’T be trying to go to university because they’re simply not up the level of individual research, analysis and presentation expected of A Levels students (to my mind they should never have been accepted into the sixth form in the first place – but, of course, the powers-that-be in schools see attracting large numbers into their sixth form as badges of “success”… and a source of extra funding, no doubt). The result, in many such instances (in our school at least), is that the onus is on TEACHERS, rather than the students, to try to ensure that they achieve acceptable grades.
I agree with your comments regretting the apparent shift from coursework to examination
… and, of course, I’m talking as one who disliked examinations intensely, but was never given the coursework option!