Gove wants all students to do what he did when he was a kid, sit in a huge exam hall and regurgitate facts learned over the past two years. It is claimed what parents will have more confidence in this type of approach and Clegg also thinks its great as well. The problem with this is, when you get a job, when do you ever sit there, in isolation, and regurgitate facts with no reference or places to go for help? Largely never. So while it may please the Government to be driving change, it is no good to UK PLC. Industry doesn;t really need people who can just regurgitate facts, but actually know the way to get to answers, how to research problems, to moderate their thinking in a changing environment and know when to ask for help. What we don’t need is someone who can just complete a number of memory tests.
This just highlights the fact that the Government is more interested in the grades for the sake of grades, not what the student will actually do with the knowledge that is learned or that they get significant life skills. For me, Coursework is hugely important because that most closely resembles real life. Though parents have a role to play here too, and to aid their children and not just do it for them. In none of the reports that I have read have people got the opinion of employers or industry as a whole! If this change messes up this generation, it is not just exam results but it will cascade into industry and then consequently the economy!
So many people get stressed through the whole exam period that they don;t perform at their best, where others are really good at exams but no good in the real job. Some cope equally well with both ways. So really we need a number of ways of seeing the aptitude and capabilities of the student. And that is important, GCSEs (or whatever course is used) need to highlight the capabilities of the student in order that employers or further/higher education establishments can compare and contrast people to see what is the most suitable next step. It is not about comparing the best school/government/LEA or whatever. Even the need for Parents to be happy is almost of no consequence here, it is all about the student and their next step in life.
In summary – The way that exams have been messed around with mid year is disgraceful, and has hurt students and industry. But the need for “harder marking” is necessary to have a spread of marks. However a completely new set of exams is not the answer. Recognise that education is an investment for UK PLC and therefore the economy, and make the exams help the overall need, not just to populate league tables.