Savaging your own party policies

Poor Angela Burns (she's the Shadow Minister for Education in the Assembly, for anyone who might not believe it after reading this article) must have thought she was being awfully clever when she issued this press statement condemning the Welsh Government for launching a consultation on whether to reform education qualifications.

But now, only three weeks later, up pops Michael Gove with proposals to implement just about everything she accuses the Welsh Government of wanting to do. Surely what she says must apply every bit as much to England as to Wales, so she must be hoping nobody shows this to her bosses in Westminster:

Wales England must retain internationally-recognised qualifications


Young people in Wales England must have the option to pursue internationally-recognised qualifications, which they can take wherever in the world their future careers take them.

Perhaps in addition to its biased questions, the Welsh Labour English Tory Government should also consult on whether its own policies are fit for purpose, rather than seeking to direct blame for their persistent failures on the qualifications themselves.

When Wales England is underperforming compared to other countries in the world, why does the Minister assume that it’s the qualifications at fault?

This document further highlights the Labour Tory Government’s obsession with their pursuit of difference for its own sake instead of acting in the best interests of Wales England.

Ministers should be working to raise academic performance within the current examination framework rather than proposing a disruptive, costly and unnecessary reorganisation of qualifications.

Welsh Icons, 31 May 2012

Why do I need to savage Michael Gove's hare-brained ideas about educational qualifications when one of his fellow Tories has already done such a good job of it?

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Anonymous said...

So MH,
Are you telling us that you are actually proud of "out national qualification". I can say that I'm not. What I'd like is to keep the GCSE's but make them slightly harder. And make things like science more fun- when I did science I did next to no experiments, and now they don't do anything- so how can we be inspired by it?.

But what I want ON TOP of this is some form of diploma. It isn't done on a set date but in a certain month in the middle of year 11. It will be a very basic test looking at English language / Welsh language skills, and then some very basic Maths. Essentially it'll be a quick assessment seeing if you can read and understand, write a letter and be able to add things up / figure %'s out. To graduate from year 11 you must pass this. If you fail you must re sit it until you pass it. And the schools? some form of penalty should be imposed on them.

This will force schools to ensure that every pupil can leave school able to read, write and add up. And I'm sure that every job in Wales would say you must have this diploma to get it.

The majority would find this p*ss easy and it wouldn't worry them. However hopefully it will force the rest to ensure they have the most basic of skills.

MH said...

I don't know what your first sentence means, Anon, but I don't think there's too much wrong with GCSEs for them to be fixed. As I see it, the biggest problem has been creating competition between examining boards leading to some boards making their standards lower than others or offering "help" to those that pay to go to their seminars. That can be relatively easily fixed. Nor would I have any problem about altering the grading structure to reflect the fact that students are getting higher grades.

But the idea of replacing GCSEs with separate "academic" and "non-academic" qualifications proposed by Gove is definitely a step backwards. It stigmatizes perfectly good achievements by students who are not so academically inclined.

When you say things like making "science more fun", I really wonder if you understand the point Angela was making. Of course there's room for improving the way we teach, but there's a big difference between teaching and measuring achievement. It's silly to think we can solve the first problem by blaming the qualification.

As for the problem of basic literacy and numeracy, of course this needs to improve, but it is a mistake to think we could solve this by setting up the hurdle of some sort of final diploma that it might take some pupils three or four attempts to pass ... if at all. We need to address it far, far earlier than at the end of Year 11. In my opinion, this is the best way of doing it.

Cibwr said...

One of the problems with the old GCE/CSE system is that it tended to band pupils, you did GCE or you did CSE - they offered nothing for lower band pupils as CSEs counted for nothing in the workplace. Its a return to catagorising pupils as successes or failures at the age of 14.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing intrinsicaly wrong with GCSEs- introduced under Thatcher, incidentally- that means they need to be scrapped. Gove's agenda is more about nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

So you stop banding pupils but let's band the schools instead.

As one who did O'levels/CSE's i can vouch for the fact that CSE's DID count because CSE pupils in the main WERE literate which is more than you can say about an increasing number of GCSE students

Cibwr said...

I think there is also a failure to understand that there have always been a proportion of pupils who were functionally illiterate. This proportion has grown as the definition of functionally illiterate has grown. There used to be many jobs that did not need the ability to read or write. Those jobs have gone. Thus there is a nostalgia for the past based on a false belief that everyone left school with the ability to read to a high standard.

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