Sunday, 23 August 2009

It's that time of year again...

You can almost feel the relief of the various media and news outlets as GCSE and A Level results time draws closer. It's a "slow news" time of year and so an opportunity to take aim at an easy target is a temptation that none of them try and resist. We're treated to the usual howls of derision as the results are made public.

Having been Head of Department at one the UK's leading Examination Boards I would say that the criticism levelled at the current crop of qualifications flies wide of the mark. Are the qualifications different to 20 or 30 years ago - certainly! Easier, no.

The policy makers set the curriculum and not the Examinations Boards. The decision to include sociological and environmental components in all subjects means that other things have to be removed. Do I always agree with what is removed - no, of course not, but then I'm an Engineer at heart and not a politician!

So, why are more and more young people doing so very well in their examinations. (Apart from putting in the hard work that is) When I look back at my education the only sources of information I had were the subject teacher and the library. If you didn't like your teacher you were less likely to do well in their subject area. In more modern times there are study guides, online revision sites, podcasts and so on. There are more alternative sources of good quality information available to the diligent student than ever before. Teachers are a very important part of the learning process, but they are no longer the only part and perhaps that needs to be recognised.

The media are creatures of habit and I doubt that one blogpost will change their habit of sniping at the results each year. I do hope that the rest of us, however, will respect the time and effort that our young people put into getting themselves qualified and celebrate their success with them.