O-Level to GCSE to O-Level Again

So the Education Secretary Michael Gove is planning to get rid of GCSEs and reinstate the O-levels and CSEs which means harder exams and less coursework.

I voted for the Conservatives in the election, I don’t regret it but while I did my GCSEs five years ago that doesn’t stop me from being pretty annoyed by this move.

I mean, those things were hard!

Exams have always been the bane of my life and I have yet to see the point of them. How is it fair that their future successes are based on a very stressful two hours of their lives? They might be having a bad day and one piece of important information slips their mind no matter how much they revised and that could be the difference between passing and failing.

Some people can just remember things and others can’t. Some people are fast writers and others aren’t. To have students express everything they’ve learnt in the last two years with a time limit tick tocking over their heads is not a good way to judge how much they know.

I’m not saying this because I’ve failed loads of exams, I have 11 GCSEs all C grade and above, two A-levels, two diplomas, a degree (fingers crossed) and hopefully an NCTJ Law qualification on the way. I have only ever failed one and that was my Maths GCSE for which I received a D, even then I took it again at college and passed. But I know for a fact if I were to study under this scheme I would be one of the students told to do CSEs because I’m not good enough to do O-levels, and considering how hard school is without the government saying you’re stupid it would add another log to the ridiculing fire.

I’m all for coursework though. I love it, because it demonstrates your skills over a certain period of time. You do all the work and you learn a lot more than if you were to just take an exam. You actually get to know about the subject because it’s research you are conducting yourself, not notes given to you by the teacher.

Like when I did coursework for Classical Civilisations, I got to know a lot more about the Parthenon and Alexander the Great and the rise and fall of Rome. An essay I wrote for uni did the same thing, all I was given was a list of questions to choose from and some possible books to read and was told to go and do the rest myself. Which I did and I came across Henry Spira who is an inspiration (you might remember that I wrote a couple of posts about him).

In my opinion you learn more by not doing exams and in all honesty when does what you learn at school ever come in useful? I don’t need to know about magnesium and potassium or about algebra. I just need to know how to count, think and most importantly to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.


5 responses to “O-Level to GCSE to O-Level Again

  • beckyday6

    I saw some stuff about this this morning. Grrr! It makes me so angry. People make out that exams are now easier, well in a way obviously they are because they are moduled but the actual exams themselves are still very difficult, it’s the grade boundaries that are the real issue, I don’t see why they don’t just lower them. I think it is so wrong to base it on ONE day. Say someone just happens to have a really bad cold that weak? They’re not exactly going to do well are they? Maybe they had a death in the family the day before? Maybe their parents split up in the last week? Sometimes the situation conspires against you. I just don’t think it’s fair to base it on one exam, I really don’t. Ajjgoffff! WHY DON’T THEY JUST LOWER THE GRADE BOUNDARIES!?!?!? *steam comes out of ears*

    Great discussion, hear hear!

    • Summer Grant

      My point exactly, there is no way they can get a realstic view of everybody’s education from one day. It’s ridiculous. I was watching Loose Women earlier and they were talking about it and Janet Street Porter was like ‘there’s no denying exams have gotten easier, the quality of education has gone down, we shouldn’t be coddling them blah blah blah’ and I think it’s a horrible thing to say. It’s comepletely diminishing all the hardwork everybody has put into their revision and their learning. For all the people who say that, I’d actually like to see them sit down and take a GCSE test.
      And for once I agree with the genereal concensus, the politicians have no idea what they’re talking about here. They just see falling standards and are looking for a quick fix. making things harder isn’t making things better.

  • fluffrick

    This post makes me feel very old – I was in the firing line when the GCSE was first introduced, so to see it go the way of the proverbial Dodo confirms that I am that bit closer to the grave…

    Back on topic? Is this proposal an admission that the GCSE was flawed as a system of examination when the Conservative government introduced it in the 1980s or just dear old Mikey Gove getting all dewy-eyed for his school days, which were much tougher and made him the man he is today?

    Guys, if you take anything from this proposal, let it be this – NEVER trust a politician…

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