In its latest attempts to inspire the nation the coalition government have leaked reports that it is intending to scrap the GCSE examinations for it to be replaced by an O-level inspired system called the English Baccalaureate Certificate.
The system will see students across the nation sit a singular exam and will see a reduction in coursework load, with the emphasis being on the students mental capacity in an exam situation.
So what does this entail for students and teachers a like? Well this article will hope to simplify the whole shebang and what differences there may be between the two systems.
The old educational system, which many of you will have grown up with, is the GCSE system or the General Certificate of Secondary Education. This system saw pupils sit several exams in a singular subject, for example: for a GCSE in English, students will sit several exams of a space of time with each exam holding a percentile proportion of the overall grade. So 2 exams on different areas of English study will be taken with both garnering 50% of the final grade or it could be that a certain test will have more emphasis, as it may be more important. This means that one of the tests could hold a 70% stake in the overall outcome whilst the other will only hold 30%. This means that if pupils were to perform poorly in one test, they have the chance to study harder for the next one and potentially achieve a better grade than if they were to take one test.
Then there is the case of coursework. Coursework is the idea that throughout the educational year a student will do an essay or piece of work over a certain period of time with an ultimate deadline for them to submit. Many courses with coursework will see the work holding an average of about 30% of the overall outcome, this means that student who may perform badly in examination conditions have a chance of a better grade as they can achieve a good grade on their coursework which will factor into them getting a better grade.
This kind of jigsaw effect of percentages would be across the board with each subject varying their percentile preferences, which allowed each course power over what the student’s final emphasis would be on. However this mish-mash of percentages, coursework and multiple examinations can become far too complicated for many and the amount of work this would lead to would inevitably affect the students’ outcome.
This was counteracted by the fact that many students should they need to may be able to retake the examinations/coursework on their own at a later date. These would be called module retakes. This would mean that should a student do well throughout the year for only to hiccup in a certain part of the course they could have the ability to retake that certain part at another time allowing for a better all round grade.
Many people thought the GCSE system was a fair system giving students every chance to perform to their academicals best, which is a fair statement but does this mean it was too easy for students? This can be specially pointed towards students who have the best facilities in certain schools. The ability to take certain ‘modules’ at a later date bring the idea of education at your convenience something which many students take advantage of, allowing them to take exams as many times as possible to produce the best possible grade. It can be argued that this sort of relaxed approach means that higher grades are too easy to obtain, something, which many people would agree with too.
Now what about the system that will replace this system of precise but easy grades? The new educational structure will go under the name of the English Baccalaureate and will look to bring the nation into line with the International Baccalaureate. This move will see students have their competitive chances increased in global academia. Just like with the economy the coalition government are trying to increase the nations chance at besting their international competition.
So what is the English Baccalaureate? In many core-subjects students’ will sit one examination at the end of the year in what many have described as ‘out of touch and outdated’. The single exam means that education will say goodbye to the confusing and oversaturated idea of modules and coursework with a singular test to pass. But is this too simple? Having a large emphasis on tests is very archaic and does not reflect real working life after all when are you working to pass an end of year test? The idea of coursework and its respective deadlines is an idea that many point to when showing how an educational system may prepare for the outside world.
So it doesn’t look too good for the new system, however due to its inevitable difficulty surely this would produce a finer and more refined student, after all we live in a society that praises people who work hard and prosper? This isn’t necessarily true, as with many people I always suffered at the hand of exam conditions and never did as good in the exam hall as I did in the library writing my essay piece of coursework. This means that when it comes down to it I wouldn’t achieve as good a grade with an exam only grading system. This for many people will seem a little unfair, as many pupils will be tested on a uniformed area and not allow them to prosper in other areas of education. After all an end of year examination will be no more than a more complicated memory test. This would no doubt filter out the more creative minds amongst the young population and gear the next best graduates towards a classic tangible work force.
The Tories have seen the problem with the economy and have tried to correct it through installing a somewhat archaic system of education in the bid to produce a more competitive work force for the global economy to make use of. However this new workforce is at the cost of people who are creative, people who are not exam orientated and people don’t have the best schooling facilities to excel.
BY: Craig Cunningham