Just something I didn’t get around to writing the other day, when thinking about S3 Standard Grades.
What are the perceived benefits of bringing the exams forward? Please discuss. I think it was explained to us at the time that there is a big drop in learning during second year, and that bringing the exams forward should keep the learning momentum going into exams. Or something along those lines. I seem to remember that, at the time, a fair proportion of parents thought that pushing the children towards earlier exams had to be a good thing. I don’t know whether or not they still think that. I was a doubter from the start but as this is now the system we find ourselves in, we have to make the best of it and the grapevine suggests that a lot more schools are going to be moving in that direction.
As I said – or tried to – in my earlier post, my main problem with it is the early reduction in the syllabus. I do think that this is potentially of considerable benefit to the less able children who are are able to drop subjects they loathe and concentrate earlier on improving grades over a narrower syllabus. But the more able children, who may well go on to higher education, can probably cope with a wider range of subjects for longer. They are having to drop subjects they enjoy and would be happy doing for another year without the pressure of exams. Once you’re onto that exam roller coaster, there is no let up until well after University. The trouble is perhaps that a comprehensive system within the constraints of school organisation has to be designed to suit everyone at once.
I love your blog and have wanted to comment more than I have been able to (I always seem to be offline on the train when I read it). I think the reduction in scope might allow kids to get deeper into a subject in theory, but in practice examined courses tend to be more skimming than diving into a subject. Reading your previous post on Polonium made me think – great! – and then quickly made me think – “In reality, would teachers take a week ‘off’ bashing through content to do it? I think you are right. We must offer breadth as late on as possible. Otherwise we’ll end up with talented doctors, lawyers and mathematicians with no “culture générale”, as the French would say (if you stayed on doing French long enough to understand it, that is 😉
Aw shucks, glad you’ve enjoyed reading it. No time, that’s the problem – no time to learn the things we don’t need, not enough to learn the things we might need and no way of figuring what we really do need. Out of curiousity I thought I might do something about what I learnt at school and what I do now. BUt that might have to wait until after Christmas as I now have 2 weeks 4 days to finish my current report and, sigh, I’m still fighting MapInfo.