So, Gove's decided to scrap 'dumbed down' GCSEs and revive O-levels (Mail-link), the qualification so out-dated that the Conservatives decided to scrap them in the 1980's (I am aware that this is arguably ad-hominem, but still, my point is that they were scrapped for a frickin' reason). Or possibly because Gove simply doesn't get GCSEs.
I've blogged about that aspect before.
I have to say I wasn't pleased about this news. At all. It's fucking bullshit. While, okay, a few of my exams have been a bit easy (well, basically maths, but (to humble brag) I pwn at maths, so yeah), these claims that they're 'dumbed down' are just wrong. 69.8% of GCSEs are passes at the baseline level of A*-C (the idea is that everyone gets 5A*-C, somewhere down the line we've forgotten this), but that's because people who are more likely to get good GCSEs are entered into more subjects. I'm taking 11, whereas most people at my college take 10, some might take less than that. I'm predicted straight As and A*s (edit: I didn't quite get that, but still did really well). People like me (to be a humblebragging-humblebragger again) tend also to be entered for more, hence the apparently obscene A/A* pass rate.
Of course, I can see this only having negative effects. You know the good thing about modular assessment (which I'm in the last year to experience)? It means you get a better understanding of individual topics, and it tests your ability to work in a sustained manner (if you're into that "education is for jobs" stuff,), or, alternatively, it means that it isn't all or nothing. Final exams (which I finished literally 2 days ago (well, yesterday as of writing this sentence, but I'm looking at an all nighter)) were stressful enough without that bullshit to be frank. To the point where I ended up having a random panic attack (as in, one entirely removed from the situations where they normally happen).
That aside, this pretty much consigns anyone who has old-style GCSEs (like, for full disclosure purposes, I'll have in just over a couple of months, in case you haven't guessed) to the scrap heap. Who the fuck would want to pick the kid with the 'dumbed down' qualification? And, heck, I'm doing well in them, but that's because they're worthless. They're dumbed down. All GCSEs are piss easy, and everyone can pass them, and we're all a bunch of fucking layabouts. At least that's what Gove's saying with this, as far as I can see (not intentionally, but still). It makes me feel like shit.Unless it goes the other way, and O-levels are considered to be a load of crap, in which case Gove can still go fuck himself over this bullshit.
EDIT: Oh yeah, this not even getting into the inherent segregation. O-levels are for the 'top 75%' only. This means that either way this turns out, 25% of kids are going to lose out mega style, being consigned to a scrap heap, all to fit some ridiculous agenda (props to @SzeitBlom for pointing this out (I got distracted by the crap which personally affected me)). Also, the unfairness inherent in the splits? Too much for Thatcher's Government (GCSEs were created in 1984) the first time round.
Of course, GCSEs are already ignored once you get A-levels. Guess what else Gove's mucking around with! [Mail Links; I think they might be getting the best scoops here, for some reason] Yeah, the Mail actually says it best
"The new-style tests would be given a different set of grades to enable tutors and employers to tell them apart from existing exams.These reforms? Start coming into place... well, it doesn't say when, but I dare say that it they won't be happening in time for September. Even Michael "Cultural Revolution for our schools" Gove (no, I am not going to ever let that one go, especially since I actually did my History controlled assessment on the Cultural Revolution) isn't likely to make things move that quickly. So I guess that's another 'dumbed down' qualification that'll be regarded as shit that I'll have to spend 2 years on. Oh joy. I mean, school's okay and all, but I'd like to think that the slip of paper at the end is only semi-worthless.
The reforms would effectively create a two-tier system; old-style A-levels and new versions with beefed-up content, a greater emphasis on essay-writing and a strict limit on exam resits." (emphasis mine. At least the Mail's being honest about the impacts; check out the quotes on this Guardian article on the same topic which state that the use of a different grading system will actually somehow prevent a two-tier system coming to fruition)
Not to mention that they're making everything based off how well you do exams. Again. I suppose actually analysing stuff is no-longer a useful skill then, but regurgitating knowledge? Coolio by Gove, apparently...
This even outdoes Gove's other shit to do with education which happened in this month alone. I know that the state will always try to twist education to its own ends (heck, one of my courses was pretty much Keynsian propaganda, and don't get me started on the pro-FDR bias of History...), but they're moving towards some bastardised blend of Steiner schools and stock right-wing educational policy. Basically, taking the (shit) stance on science of the Steiner schools, replacing teaching of the Scientific method with a focus on nature, statistics with algebra (I love algebra, and learning it in primary school (well, early secondary school, since Leicestershire is dead weird like that) would have been a dream come true, but come on), and then deciding that forcing kids to recite poetry and memorise spellings is a good idea (although the choices of words the Graun chose to represent is a bit amusing: "bruise, destroy, ridiculous and tyrant". Also, languages, which I suppose is less rubbish (assuming that anyone actually speaks said languages and they aren't, like,
Latin). As is teaching kids how to debate, if such a thing is actually a thing you can teach, it's okay. But it's mostly crap, possibly as a way to get schools to become Academies (/speculation)...
Back to the main topic though, I'm actually thinking of maybe following up with a response to what I'd do, and you know what? I'm skeptical that Labour, populist shitbags that they are, will be any better. Actually, I'm sick to death of education being used as the ball in the political ping-pong of education between the two parties. I'll be willing to bet quite a lot of my peers (God that sounds pretentious) are as well. We're all human beings, not political capital. I swear, the sooner this entire system is trashed so we can do away with qualifications, the better,
tl;dr? Gove's planned qualifications reforms are crap, as is quite a lot of the curriculum stuff, and kids in my year are screwed (or possibly the kids coming up in 2013.. Also, I'm really frickin' petty and pathetic.
PS I have come to the conclusion that the Daily Mail can go fuck itself. Although it appears that it already is in the process of fucking itself over this, given how excited it is about this crap.
EDIT: I'd just like to add. I'm lucky that I'm still doing 'academic' courses. Vocational courses are being increasingly devalued, and are basically the favourite punching bag of the educational Right. Even more so than 'dumbed down' GCSEs. This is a massive load of horseshit too.I've never really done BTECs, but just because there's less of a focus on exams (from what I can gather exams are involved now or something) doesn't make them any less valid. As for equivalency, maybe we should be taking our cues from Finland (best in the world in a lot of areas to do with education) and scrap league tables altogether.