The 3 Exam Boards In England Should Merge

Merge the current exam boards Edexcel, AQA and OCR. Or alternatively give the contract to just one of them.

When a school is selecting which exam board to enter it pupils on to, it rationally selects the exam board with the reputation for asking the easiest (and most consistent) questions.

You cannot blame schools and teachers for acting in this manner, especially in a time when league tables hold such sway in the minds of parents, governors and media.

Exam boards currently have an equally rational desire to provide as many exam papers to as many schools as possible. You therefore have this 'race to the bottom' in terms of difficulty in exam papers.   

The only solution is to have 1 exam board, independent of central government, which will write the papers for all GCSE and A level students in the country.

Why is this idea important?

Merge the current exam boards Edexcel, AQA and OCR. Or alternatively give the contract to just one of them.

When a school is selecting which exam board to enter it pupils on to, it rationally selects the exam board with the reputation for asking the easiest (and most consistent) questions.

You cannot blame schools and teachers for acting in this manner, especially in a time when league tables hold such sway in the minds of parents, governors and media.

Exam boards currently have an equally rational desire to provide as many exam papers to as many schools as possible. You therefore have this 'race to the bottom' in terms of difficulty in exam papers.   

The only solution is to have 1 exam board, independent of central government, which will write the papers for all GCSE and A level students in the country.

Meaningful Exam Grades

Give employers and employees the Right to meaningful exam grades at GCSE and A level.

What does an A level "A" grade actually mean?

Has anyone seen a definition? No other grade system in public or private life is to poorly defined.

This does not do pupils and young adults any favours, as hard work and top grades are ignored and ridiculed.

It does not do employers any favours as they simply do not know how to discriminate between candidates, and probably reject potential excellent employees at the shortlist/sift stage without ever reading their achievements let alone meeting them.

Introduce a legally enforcable definition of the top 2 grades and the pass/fail boundary (others will follow naturally). For any subject with more that 1000 candidates an A grade could be defined as the top X%, a B the next Y% and fail less than Z% or less than U partly correct questions. (With over 1000 candidates there should be a "normal" and representative spread of abilities that is consistent from year to year, unless a particular subject is targetted by head teachers as being easy for thick pupils.)

To be honest, employers are less interested in absolute measures of ability, and more interested in comparing between candidates for selected key subjects – and that is not possible if a single grage covers a 40 point range.

Alternatively there needs to be some clear objective qualative definition that inspires confidence that an A grade in one subject represents the same level of intellegence, hard work, practice and learning as an A grade in a wildly different subject. Yes I realise that contradicts the above paragraph, but … this is very difficult to do without testing actual exam questions on statistically valid large number of benchmarked candidates – and that would of course mean revealing exam questions in advance.

Why is this idea important?

Give employers and employees the Right to meaningful exam grades at GCSE and A level.

What does an A level "A" grade actually mean?

Has anyone seen a definition? No other grade system in public or private life is to poorly defined.

This does not do pupils and young adults any favours, as hard work and top grades are ignored and ridiculed.

It does not do employers any favours as they simply do not know how to discriminate between candidates, and probably reject potential excellent employees at the shortlist/sift stage without ever reading their achievements let alone meeting them.

Introduce a legally enforcable definition of the top 2 grades and the pass/fail boundary (others will follow naturally). For any subject with more that 1000 candidates an A grade could be defined as the top X%, a B the next Y% and fail less than Z% or less than U partly correct questions. (With over 1000 candidates there should be a "normal" and representative spread of abilities that is consistent from year to year, unless a particular subject is targetted by head teachers as being easy for thick pupils.)

To be honest, employers are less interested in absolute measures of ability, and more interested in comparing between candidates for selected key subjects – and that is not possible if a single grage covers a 40 point range.

Alternatively there needs to be some clear objective qualative definition that inspires confidence that an A grade in one subject represents the same level of intellegence, hard work, practice and learning as an A grade in a wildly different subject. Yes I realise that contradicts the above paragraph, but … this is very difficult to do without testing actual exam questions on statistically valid large number of benchmarked candidates – and that would of course mean revealing exam questions in advance.

Restore Parents Rights To Detailed School Data

Ofcom school inspections used to provide parents with a wealth of factual data that could help parents see through wooly waffle and vague statements about "values" and "nurturing every child" and help parents decide if a school was good or not.

The right to this data has been destoryed with new simplified Section 5 reports. Restore this right now. At low cost schools could publish data every year. Or Ofstead could publish it for them. They already collect this data for the Government, so the extra cost would minimal.

Here is the information that I, as a parent, would look for when trying to shortlist schools or when considering moving to a new area:

Number of pupils (years 7-11 and sixth form separately), male and female numbers.

Number of teachers

New teachers in the year

How many established teachers have left

Teachers who have joined and left in the same year (staff turnover is an important indicator of an unhappy school).

Number of pupils who took every GCSE subject and numbers by grade band, by age or 1st attempt/2nd attempt (there is a huge difference between a school where most pupils take GCSEs in Hairdressing, Geography and Art at 16, bumping up the league table results, and schools where 14 year olds routinely sit Maths, and a third school where a minority of pupils sit hard subjects, and the same pupils resit once or twice if necessary to improve grades, but all three would score the same in league tables).

Number of pupils in GCSE points bands (do 10% of pupils get no GCSEs or 20%? Averages won't tell you that).

Ethnic breakdown of the school.

Class sizes.

Number of temporary exclusions and indication of how many pupils that refers to.

Number of permanent exclusions.

Pupil outcomes – number of Y11s gone on to further education categorised by 6th form in same school, Other 6th form, FE College, not gone on to further education.

        – number that have gone to University by rough Uni category (Oxbridge, Russel Group, middling, desperate, USA Ivy League) and subject or type of subject.

       – number employed / unemployed after 5 years.

by lessimon

Why is this idea important?

Ofcom school inspections used to provide parents with a wealth of factual data that could help parents see through wooly waffle and vague statements about "values" and "nurturing every child" and help parents decide if a school was good or not.

The right to this data has been destoryed with new simplified Section 5 reports. Restore this right now. At low cost schools could publish data every year. Or Ofstead could publish it for them. They already collect this data for the Government, so the extra cost would minimal.

Here is the information that I, as a parent, would look for when trying to shortlist schools or when considering moving to a new area:

Number of pupils (years 7-11 and sixth form separately), male and female numbers.

Number of teachers

New teachers in the year

How many established teachers have left

Teachers who have joined and left in the same year (staff turnover is an important indicator of an unhappy school).

Number of pupils who took every GCSE subject and numbers by grade band, by age or 1st attempt/2nd attempt (there is a huge difference between a school where most pupils take GCSEs in Hairdressing, Geography and Art at 16, bumping up the league table results, and schools where 14 year olds routinely sit Maths, and a third school where a minority of pupils sit hard subjects, and the same pupils resit once or twice if necessary to improve grades, but all three would score the same in league tables).

Number of pupils in GCSE points bands (do 10% of pupils get no GCSEs or 20%? Averages won't tell you that).

Ethnic breakdown of the school.

Class sizes.

Number of temporary exclusions and indication of how many pupils that refers to.

Number of permanent exclusions.

Pupil outcomes – number of Y11s gone on to further education categorised by 6th form in same school, Other 6th form, FE College, not gone on to further education.

        – number that have gone to University by rough Uni category (Oxbridge, Russel Group, middling, desperate, USA Ivy League) and subject or type of subject.

       – number employed / unemployed after 5 years.

by lessimon

Revert back to internal mock exams at secondary school

basically I would like the secondary school exams to go back to having a mock exam that are internally marked.  The current process means that schools are paying in the region of £100,000 a year to have their kid put through exams. This figure used to be £20,000. What was ever wrong with the idea of putting the kids through an internal mock exam, see how their doing, tell them what they've got to do and if they fail then they have to pay for themselves to resit the exam.

It's an important life skill to learn that there isn't always a safety net nad so you have to make teh best of the oppertunities that life offers you.

Why is this idea important?

basically I would like the secondary school exams to go back to having a mock exam that are internally marked.  The current process means that schools are paying in the region of £100,000 a year to have their kid put through exams. This figure used to be £20,000. What was ever wrong with the idea of putting the kids through an internal mock exam, see how their doing, tell them what they've got to do and if they fail then they have to pay for themselves to resit the exam.

It's an important life skill to learn that there isn't always a safety net nad so you have to make teh best of the oppertunities that life offers you.

A* Results at A Level and GCSE should be for the top 10% only

A* grades at both A Level and GCSE should be allocated to the top 10% of candidates in the country.

When an exam is marked it scores from 0 to 100 percent and the threshold for grade bands is, for instance, 70% correct answers for a B and 80% correct for an A.

Those who reach these thresholds should rightly be given their appropriate grade. However A* should be reserved for the top 10% of candidates, not just some one who scores over, for instance, 85%.

A candidate's paper would be marked to the percent and given an A grade for achieving 80%, and only after all papers are marked would the A* percentage threshold be set, to allow a 10% quota of candidates through. If their paper achieved this amount they would then be upgraded to the A*. Logistically, if really necessary, this upgrade could happen a couple of weeks after the initial GCSE results are revealed.

Why is this idea important?

A* grades at both A Level and GCSE should be allocated to the top 10% of candidates in the country.

When an exam is marked it scores from 0 to 100 percent and the threshold for grade bands is, for instance, 70% correct answers for a B and 80% correct for an A.

Those who reach these thresholds should rightly be given their appropriate grade. However A* should be reserved for the top 10% of candidates, not just some one who scores over, for instance, 85%.

A candidate's paper would be marked to the percent and given an A grade for achieving 80%, and only after all papers are marked would the A* percentage threshold be set, to allow a 10% quota of candidates through. If their paper achieved this amount they would then be upgraded to the A*. Logistically, if really necessary, this upgrade could happen a couple of weeks after the initial GCSE results are revealed.

Stop stats tests on primary school children

Teachers, schools and parents all call for it to be abolished.  Why is this still happening?  Why do we need these tests?  Why are we allowing our children to be put through the pressure at such a young age?

Why is this idea important?

Teachers, schools and parents all call for it to be abolished.  Why is this still happening?  Why do we need these tests?  Why are we allowing our children to be put through the pressure at such a young age?

Grammar schools within comprehensives and toughen up University entries

Entry to University should once again become much harder and much more competitive. Far too many who are not academically gifted get worthless degrees and end up with huge debts,no jobs,and a life on the dole when they could have been learning a useful trade.
Similarly we should restore a Grammar school system but not the iniquitous "11+" with its "one strike and you are out" mentality.Grammar schools could exist within our comprehensive schools as a sort of "elite" (don't faint ye who are politically correct !) so that those who develop late could be "promoted" at 12 or 13 without actually changing schools, and those who couldn't make the grade would simply return to the mainstream also without changing schools.
Rigorous "streaming" is essential to allow those who are able but from deprived backgrounds to make full use of their talents and put them at the service of the nation.

 

Why is this idea important?

Entry to University should once again become much harder and much more competitive. Far too many who are not academically gifted get worthless degrees and end up with huge debts,no jobs,and a life on the dole when they could have been learning a useful trade.
Similarly we should restore a Grammar school system but not the iniquitous "11+" with its "one strike and you are out" mentality.Grammar schools could exist within our comprehensive schools as a sort of "elite" (don't faint ye who are politically correct !) so that those who develop late could be "promoted" at 12 or 13 without actually changing schools, and those who couldn't make the grade would simply return to the mainstream also without changing schools.
Rigorous "streaming" is essential to allow those who are able but from deprived backgrounds to make full use of their talents and put them at the service of the nation.

 

Redress the fairness of boys’ attainment in education

Ensure that exam systems at every level are reviewed to better address the strengths of males in education. At present the system rewards female skills and boys are unfairly disadvantaged by a system designed against them. Exam outcomes favour attributes of women. Boys are therefore having an increasingly difficult time in education.

Why is this idea important?

Ensure that exam systems at every level are reviewed to better address the strengths of males in education. At present the system rewards female skills and boys are unfairly disadvantaged by a system designed against them. Exam outcomes favour attributes of women. Boys are therefore having an increasingly difficult time in education.

Make Exams Timetabled…

I must admit, this subject makes me a little bit touchy, which may sound stupid but hear me out.

Yesterday, my friend was forced to take a GSCE Mock ICT exam in the morning for 2 hours, which we'd been told about the week before and not prepared for in anyway, next she had to take a REAL GSCE Geography exam, 2 hours, followed up by a GSCE French exam.

Is it just me that thinks having an ENTIRE day of seperate exams? One of which was completely unneccisary, and that I should add, most finished within the first hour (The ICT Mock).

Also, I'll use science as an example. We spent an entire year in three seperate sciences preparing for 3 seperate exams. After 3/4 of the school year preparing, we took the GSCE exams. Simple. What was our releife for a year of work and 3 hard exams? Nothing. The day after the exam, "Ok Class, time for coursework", So now we spend all 3 Science lessons doing the same coursework, we woefully finish it, but to our suprise..dun dun dunnn, another coursework. So again with anger in our hearts, we finish.

Ok 3 weeks until the end of the school year, all coursework finished, all exams finished. "We're going to be starting the next modules"…REALLY? why?…We have it all schedualed out for next year before our second set of GSCE science exams, and we're starting the new modual weeks before a SEVEN WEEK break?

I believe Schools should be more liberal.

Why is this idea important?

I must admit, this subject makes me a little bit touchy, which may sound stupid but hear me out.

Yesterday, my friend was forced to take a GSCE Mock ICT exam in the morning for 2 hours, which we'd been told about the week before and not prepared for in anyway, next she had to take a REAL GSCE Geography exam, 2 hours, followed up by a GSCE French exam.

Is it just me that thinks having an ENTIRE day of seperate exams? One of which was completely unneccisary, and that I should add, most finished within the first hour (The ICT Mock).

Also, I'll use science as an example. We spent an entire year in three seperate sciences preparing for 3 seperate exams. After 3/4 of the school year preparing, we took the GSCE exams. Simple. What was our releife for a year of work and 3 hard exams? Nothing. The day after the exam, "Ok Class, time for coursework", So now we spend all 3 Science lessons doing the same coursework, we woefully finish it, but to our suprise..dun dun dunnn, another coursework. So again with anger in our hearts, we finish.

Ok 3 weeks until the end of the school year, all coursework finished, all exams finished. "We're going to be starting the next modules"…REALLY? why?…We have it all schedualed out for next year before our second set of GSCE science exams, and we're starting the new modual weeks before a SEVEN WEEK break?

I believe Schools should be more liberal.

Only have one exam board

I dont really see the point in different exam boards, because some are known to be easier than others. Surely it would reduce the costs for schools ( who have to pay for students to sit the exams) and make it easier for universities to compare candidates.

Why is this idea important?

I dont really see the point in different exam boards, because some are known to be easier than others. Surely it would reduce the costs for schools ( who have to pay for students to sit the exams) and make it easier for universities to compare candidates.

Abolish SATs tests at primary schools

To end the process of nationally assessing all children in England at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 and to scrap all official school league tables for primary schools based on these or similar statistics

Why is this idea important?

To end the process of nationally assessing all children in England at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 and to scrap all official school league tables for primary schools based on these or similar statistics