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New GCSEs 'hardest since O-levels'

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Trendy Art, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. Trendy Art

    Trendy Art Star commenter


    I think we knew that would be the case... but it's going to play havoc with any inspections... there will surely be some massive variation with grades for some schools...

    What do you think?
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  2. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    They are
  3. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    I took O levels. I think the recently demised GCSEs were very much dumbed down compared to O levels. The recently deceased AS was more similar to an O level. I was once derided on here because I went to a grammar school and 'only' got 8 O levels - the commentator believed that wasn't much of an achievement. I believe that if a 16 year old in 2016 got 8 AS levels it would be an achievement. In my opinion GCSEs do need to be more difficult. Qualifications have been dumbed down for too long.
    BUT, an important But, not all students are academic. Not all students should be taking GCSEs. It is sheer cruelty to make low ability students take 8 GCSEs when they are going to fail every one. In the olden days there were CSEs, today we have Btecs. I don't know how effective these qualifications are/were. I believe that there should be some sort of alternative for non-academic students and that academic students should be allowed to shine, rather than trying to hold back one set of students and force forward another set who can't cope. The non-academic students need to gain something from the school experience and leave school prepared for work. Most of them would love, love, love, the chance of an apprenticeship rather than another 2 years of education.
    Perhaps league tables should be thrown out of the window and tables formulated which show how schools have prepared their students for the next phase of their life, academic or otherwise.
  4. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    Agreed, with qualifications. I took the last set of O levels and got 8, having attended an independent. I agree that GCSEs are dumbed down, but this has been going on for decades. I have a book including old O level questions from the 50s and I would struggle to answer them. And it's not just exams at 16: when I got 3 A levels that was the standard; getting 4 or more was exceptional, whereas now it appears to be fairly commonplace.

    In addition, approaches to education have changed a lot. It is no longer seen as so important to just learn the facts, but to question them and understand why things happen, not just accept that they do happen. In many ways this is a good thing, but we have lost something as well; in some areas we appear to be trying to run without learning how to walk!

    Yes, there needs to be an alternative. Some students should be able to leave academic education at 14 and take up an apprenticeship (or someting similar) whilst continuing with some basic numeracy and literacy. Similarly the idea that GCSEs can cover all ability ranges needs to be reviewed. And not all students do well in an exam setting. There shold be some provision for ongoing assessment during the course of GCSEs; getting the balance is all important.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    @saluki and @peter12171 have said it all.

    We need to recognise and enable all sorts of talents, abilities and interests.
  6. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I don't see a problem with GCSEs as they were initially intended: - a tiered exam (based on a tiered curriculum), enabling pupils to sit the paper for which they were most suited, and therefore coming out with grades to reflect their ability. For some pupils, to obtain 8 E grades was a massive achievement from their starting point; for others, 8 A grades reflected their ability; others would achieve a range of grades, reflecting their varying strengths.

    However, almost immediately grades A - C were seen as 'passes' (based on old O level grades) and D and downwards were given little or no value. Once league tables were produced where, once again, only the number of A - C grades schools achieved became headline news, other grades were ignored. And then Ofsted judgements of schools similarly focused on A - C grades, leading schools to find any way they could to boost these grades, at the expense of those way below.

    There's no point in bringing back the old O level / CSE divide - we need to value the achievements of all our children.
    Laphroig, emhinch, phlogiston and 3 others like this.
  7. slstrong123

    slstrong123 New commenter

    The original GCSEs had higher, intermediate and foundation tiers. Having only higher (which is tough, and so it should be) and foundation (which imo is too tough for many 'true' foundation pupils) doesn't allow pupils to excel at their own level. Bringing back an intermediate tier and making foundation level narrower with more emphasis on basic skills required for employment would help.
    GLsghost, peggylu, swampyjo and 2 others like this.
  8. gigaswitch1

    gigaswitch1 Occasional commenter

    Agree with Chelsea 2. I was the first year to take GCSE in the 80s. We were told that a D,E,F were a level 1 pass and was still recognised; not any more. What is point of giving out Level 1 passes if they are meaningless? Make them meaningful or
    get rid of grades D,E,F (3,2,1) and get theses kids doing vocational quals. All pupils need to be able to get a qualification that shows their skills and the GCSE stopped doing that with the introduction of performance tables.
    emhinch and peggylu like this.
  9. yorkie63

    yorkie63 New commenter

    Level 1 cse was a grade c at o level. I know as i was double banked if any one remenbers that in the late 70
    GLsghost likes this.
  10. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    Likewise and generally the grade 1 CSE matched up with the GCE pass and the GCE then allowed you see what level of pass.

    What you do need is a large amount of good quality training providers to train the less academic. At the end of the day these youngsters just what a job which will provide with a living in the long term. We do not want half baked YTS, YOP schemes which quite often exploited young people and offered minimal training. The way I see it working is that good training provider (inspected) can claim the expense of the training from the apprenticeship levy and so train more people than they need so that they can choose the best apprentices for themselves but many more then go into the workplace, working for smaller companies but well trained. Industry is best suited at identifying its own needs and so offering the appropriate training.
    The only fly in the ointment it the poor manufacturing base.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  12. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    I'm not talking about these companies set up to service modern apprenticeship. I'm talking about actual companies, for example two companies in my area one a boat manufacturer and one an aerospace supplier.
    Now the boat maker takes on a number of apprentices enough for its own need but could take on more. The aerospace supplier used to train lots of apprentices which ended up in surrounding companies as well as working for the aerospace company. The aerospace company downsizes closing the site.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Oh, yes. In that case! Absolutely. Proper businesses taking people on and training them up. Give tax breaks to any SME who will employ and train a youngster.
    LunaBlue123 and FormosaRed like this.
  14. snail_friendly

    snail_friendly Occasional commenter

    I don't necessarily dislike the new GCSEs - what I dislike is the guinea pig nature that our YR11s have been part of ...
    Norsemaid likes this.
  15. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    I think that when O-levels existed, people cared more about students and their grades than some ex-teachers wandering around a school.
    Maybe teenagers were able to tackle these 'harder' exams because their teachers could focus on caring about their students and helping them learn, rather than caring about what some better paid suit might or might not think.
  16. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    In this area there'll be an awful lot of nail technicians, tattoo artists and baristas; maybe builders, too, as thousands of new houses are built.

    Manufacturing? What's that?
    applecrumblebumble likes this.
  17. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    If brexit happens this country is not going to make a living on the service sector so in that respect I agree Chelsea.
  18. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I also did O levels and agree they were much more challenging than Higher Tier GCSE. I had to do calculus for O level Maths!
    wanet likes this.
  19. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    Likewise stocks and shares, compound interest and I'm pretty sure area under a curve using intergration. Had to know times table up to 15, square root of 2 and 3 so you could work out other square roots.
    Norsemaid and GLsghost like this.
  20. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    And no calculators!
    wanet and peter12171 like this.

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