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A Look At The Stars

So, it's A-level results day today and so the news is filled with the usual stories of people arguing grade inflation. Only this year we get it more so as they've just launched the new A* grades.

It's strange that when you hear political discussions about A-levels the vast majority of the time they seem to be about grades and assessment. Is that really the most important thing about them? Surely that bit is stressful enough for students to go through without labouring the point?

It sometimes seems that if we could figure out a way to just do the assessment bit in a meaningful way without any of the awkward learning stuff, the government would jump upon it at a shot. Just imagine it, we could have vast education factories churning out kids with letters by the hundred and offer them as commodities to the universities. Wouldn't that be great?

Judging by the current portrayal by the media, they're not even worthy of consideration as being a qualification in their own right, but instead are more considered as university entrance exams. We then wonder where the incentive to choose alternative non-academically focused qualifications, which will always generally be looked down by the academic directors of the world no matter how good they are.

Somehow we've managed to develop a further education system based solely around the idea of academic competition, but what's competitive about learning to further your own knowledge and skills?

The A-level system seemed fairly antiquated when I took mine just over 10 years ago (part of the reason I very nearly didn't take them). Although there have been reforms since then, they all seem to have just been cosmetic, the qualifications are still essentially the same. Besides however much you change them, they will always have been better "in our day". How else can we continue to feel superior in the face of improving results?

6 years ago a government working group did come up with a proposal to equal the playing field between vocational and academic qualifications, simplify the system and reduce the amount of formal assessment in education for 14-19 year olds. Alas, we cannot have most of the suggestions as laid out in the Tomlinson report and A-levels look to remain the defacto standard for further education.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
19th Aug, 2010 21:51 (UTC)
Yes, but the point I was trying to make is whether they have or not, it's not actually that important in the grand scheme of things, whether they have or not.

Even if you want to argue on a case of fair comparison of individuals, on the timescales we're talking experience and currency of that knowledge would become more important than the actual grades anyway.
19th Aug, 2010 21:05 (UTC)
Let's not mention that if people do get into university and do their very best to get that further education, graduating with high results, then they're automatically dismissed as somehow not living in the real world. Sigh.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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