When I saw this today I was outraged. Because frankly, I am truly sick of the mess that Gove is causing to our education system.
I am all for reform of things. I believe that the point of Government is to make change. But when the changes are frankly stupid and absurd like these, the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke’ most definitely applies. Of course, that’s an assertion on my part, so let me tell you exactly why.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not wholly bothered about the name change and whatever other ridiculous and minute changes Gove wants to make just to stamp his mark. However, I completely oppose the ludicrous decision to abolish coursework and module exams.
The wonderful thing about both coursework and module exams is that they relieve the pressure of one exam. One examination means that if you’re having a bad day, or you just don’t get on with the questions you’ve been set you can, providing you’ve done well in previous exams or courseworks, count on the safety blanket of a good grade. This is good because able pupils who may have had a bad day, will get the grades and marks they deserve. Take this away and little Susie’s grade which may have been an A with module exams, becomes a D because she hit a blank when she opened the paper.
But it’s not just this – they also allow for alternative methods of testing. Some people, like myself, just don’t do well in exams. I personally find it difficult to have to recall information in a short space of time, and use it to create an adequate answer to a question. I much preferred my BTeC science, where I was taught the topic and then was able to in my own time, apply the knowledge I’d learnt to the coursework questions. With this, I achieved an Distinction*. In an exam? I’d probably have only just managed a C. Similarly my maths grade – the series of module exams allowed me to get my A grade overall, allowing me to achieve lower in the final exam.
So what does removing coursework and module exams do? Firstly, it causes increased pressure on students during the exam period to massive levels. Every exam the student sits is suddenly miles more important, and suddenly so much more is resting on their performance on that one day. Students must miraculously find extra time to work harder in preparation for exams, because they know they don’t have that coursework behind them. In my case, it would probably cause the opposite of the desired effect – I’d become more demotivated and less likely to achieve well.
Secondly, it means that those students who come from the poorest sections of society, who have maybe managed to do a good job on their coursework because they were coached through it by the teacher (apparently the main reason coursework should be scrapped, but I completely disagree – at least students are being taught well) might not do as well because of this one exam. Whereas students who come from higher income families who can afford to provide them with supplementary teaching are likely to do better, whereas this problem was massively smaller before. If the exam is more important now, so is the work the teacher needs to do in the run up, and when they have thirty pupils to concentrate on, the child isn’t going to be coached adequately enough to achieve in that one exam. So the students from higher income families are the ones who achieve the A grades and get to do their A Levels and then go onto university. Those students who come from poorer backgrounds are left behind, just as the Conservative party has always hoped.
Removing coursework and module exams are fundamentally more detrimental than any effect that coursework may have. Yes, some people may cheat (as Freakonomics’ study of cheating in schools has shown) but that is always going to happen. Rather than scrapping these great alternative methods altogether, Gove should focus on ways to reform them. That’s what Government is about after all. Reform. So go do it Gove. But do it better.
And with that, here’s a link to a video of Gove failling over.