Return of the O' Levels
A leak of the Education's Secretary's plan to scrap GCSEs and replace then with old style O' Levels has attracted the expected amount of criticism. Well there is no life left in GCSEs unfortunately. To save the standard of education they will sooner or later have to go. That's simply because no government is going to stand over the headline of GCSE A*-C pass rates falling to 50%. It now stands at 81%. 7 years ago it was 55%.
Sadly there is no way that better teaching practices and the idea that pupils are working harder than their predecessors is solely or even largely responsible for making those gigantic leaps in improving numbers year on year. Instead we have teaches to exams and perverse competition between the Exam Boards working to increase scores whilst not necessarily increasing comprehension.
The negative effect it is certainly having is in confusing higher education institutions and businesses as to how bright a particular student is.
O' Levels are not the answer. We need a bit more thought than going back to the old system that was deemed to need replacing itself only 25 years ago.
With school leaving age shifting from 16 years old to 18 we have an opportunity to rework education and start competing with the great results that are coming out of other systems like those of Finland and South Korea. For starters we can get rid of this aspiration for smaller class size nonsense. There aren't enough brilliant teachers to go around and they are more important than the class size. I'd rather have my child with a brilliant teacher in a class of 50 than an average teacher in a class of 25.