What Does Bracknell Think: Should GCSEs be replaced with harder exams?By Becky Barnes
August 31, 2012
This week we asked our panel what they thought about the claim that GCSEs are too easy. We asked what they thought about education secretary Michael Gove’s proposal to replace GCSEs with harder exams.
Hazel Kent, of Bracknell Market café: “Having a daughter who is now at college and doing her A-levels, I can understand why the thought is that the GCSEs are getting easier.
“My daughter was an A* pupil in her GCSEs but the gap in education between those and A-levels is huge. She is now struggling and having to re-sit the whole college year.
“It’s all very well having easier GCSEs but the shock of going from those to A-levels catches some by surprise and can ultimately see some drop out due to the vast gap between the two levels.”
Ed Glasson, secretary, Bracknell Unite: “Over recent decades there’s been relentless pressure on schools to provide ever increasing pass rates, and increased competition between exam boards.
“That has, possibly, had a subtly corrosive effect, because it’s pretty unlikely, statistically, that exam outcomes, really have improved, year in, year out, over more than 20 years. Equally, it seems unlikely that this year’s results should have dropped sharply, over a whole range of subjects, without some human intervention.
“The solution isn’t to have yet another exam regime, but to ease the pressure on schools and ensure that the examiners do the job of setting and marking papers with due vigour.
“The last thing young people need right now is to be told they’re less smart than they or their teachers – whose predictions are generally spot on – thought. They’re as good as any past generation; it’s the world we parents have created for them that’s flawed, not them.”
Darren Bridgman, Bracknell blogger: “My school (Edgbarrow) was one of the first schools to test out GCSEs and my year was the first one to do them. At the time I thought they were a good idea. I still do. It seems easier because coursework adds to the mark. But actually this mean you have to work harder during the term to complete. I think it’s fine the way it is.”
Peter Smith, of The Better Business Alliance: “It appears that GCSEs have been getting easier over the past 20 years. It also appears that this trend has been stopped in its tracks this year and this is probably not a bad thing.
“Not everyone has the same academic ability and dumbing down qualifications does no one a good service. As soon as they go to university or begin work the qualifications they have achieved are far less important than their ability to do the work they are set.
“We have had employers and professors claiming that new people coming through cannot do the basics of maths, English and science. This must be rectified and also the attitude of those leaving school. No matter how well qualified they are technically it will be no good if they fail to grasp the work ethic and realise that only by putting in the necessary effort will they have a chance of becoming successful.
“How about a qualification in ‘life planning’ to help them visualise the future they want and to keep them motivated?”