Tuesday, April 03, 2012

you’re not going to believe this, but…

Shock, horror!
Amazingly, at long last, I actually AGREE with something Education Secretary Gove has said (well, ONE sentence at least).
Actually, what I SHOULD say is that Mr Gove has, rather late in the day, come round to my own way of thinking on the subject of A-levels!
Apparently, according the BBC’s website, Mr Gove says he is concerned that A-levels are failing to properly prepare students for university - in future, it appears that normal control of A-level content will be taken away from exam boards and handed to universities "drive the system" (whatever that means – personally, I’m in the
Stefan Collini camp when it comes to the purpose of university education).
I’ve previously written about sixth form education, in terms of university preparation, on a number of occasions (eg.
March 2009 and September 2010 as samplers), but this is an extract from something I wrote on 11 November 2009 when I was working in an “outstanding” (in OFSTED terms) North Somerset comprehensive school – it clearly doesn’t apply to ALL sixth-formers:
“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!”
But, of course, universities need to attract students in order to generate their respective incomes… so, perhaps for some universities, it’s not in their interests to “blow the whistle”… which just leaves the “real world” then?
I think I’d better stop now!

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