Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Exam Boards

Having more than one exam board results in competition, which is a good thing if you are buying computers, washing up liquid, or waterproof gloves; but a bad thing if you are buying GCSE courses because the only way the they can compete is by being easier than the opposition. This obviously results in a race to the bottom thus:

Salesman A:

"Our Science course is quite demanding and gets the kids a GCSE"

Salesman B:

"Our Science course is so easy that a performing chimp would scoff at its simplicity. In fact, last year one of the carrots from my garden achieved a GCSE grade "C" and would have gone on to take our 'A' Level had it not accidentally been eaten by Harry, our pet Labrador.


"Great Salesman B, your course sounds ideal for our students. We'll take it."

This is why nobody outside schools has any faith whatsoever in the exam system any more.


Ben said...

There isn't any competition between exam boards on **quality**, because the QCA makes sure they all inflate their grades together.

There USED to be competition, and everybody knew which were worthwhile and which were not. People who just want a Stifficate can do Nuffield science. People who want to learn science did JMB.

And everyone could tell who was who, which is the point.

Benedict White said...

Er Ben, I did Nuffield science at A level (Physics and Chemistry) my teachers both had doctorates, and did the theory really well. They also had practicals to tie it to, for example a rerun of a Milikan like experiment to measure the charge of an electron (from which you could conduct an experiment to measure it's mass).

It was rigorous, and practical and crucially enjoyable. In my investigation I built a machine to cover the lab in water whilst generating a pleasingly high voltage (around 100KV).

On the other hand, since I did those, standards have dropped because in part of league tables and the way they are measured. Clearly there needs to be a standard test rather than the exam a particular school wants to get the grades for,

Anonymous said...

The European engineering workers (not "engineers" in any formal sense in European terms) I've encountered seem to have been better educated than I and my British co-workers. Let's find out why, and copy their system. It appears to produce results. Even their command of English is sometimes superior to ours!
The Germans, French and Swiss are doing something right, so let's find out what it is!