« Damian Green tipped for the shadow cabinet | Main | More voices protest at frontbench job for Ken Clarke »


I like the idea about coursework. It's just a little late. I mean, the AS levels this year (first teaching Sept 08) are coursework free as are the GCSEs in 2011 (first teaching Sept 09).

"We would also like to give state schools the right – which only independent schools have at the moment – to offer their students ... the international baccalaureate"

State schools do have the right to offer the IB and many do, although the barrier seems to be financial as it is taken on at a very significant cost to the school.

As for league tables, I don't mind them (then again my place of employment is at or near the top) although I suggest that there is no system which cannot be 'worked' to the detriment of one group or another. Would it be done on "total points"? I can see some schools having students take 16 GCSEs to bump up the points score. Or points tally of best 8 GCSEs? Schools will only allow their students to do 8.

The point about league tables is that they provide us with some data. How useful that is can be debated. A good inspection will probably tell far more. Is there a league table for engagement outside the classroom in sporting, musical and dramatic activities. Is there one for students' self-confidence? One for their curiosity and love of learning? I think it was the Head of Millfield school who said that everything valuable taught at school could not be measured with a stick.

Coursework is fine as an opportunity to practice skills and learn information, but it should not be contributing marks in a public qualification for the obvious reason that it is wide open to abuse. This applies from GCSE to degrees.

Previous post - I meant 'practise' of course!

If a teacher is caught cheating on courswork they face the sack. If Mr Gove knows where they are then he should report them. Coursework has gone from most A-levels and is a small part of GCSE that from 2009 will have to be completed in class.

Students have to prepare for the 4 demanding exams that test different skills and material - what more of a demand do you want. Having AS exams also makes the students work harder as Y12 is no longer a cruise!

All A-Levels have a "high stake" final exam anyway - the synoptic paper. To put more emphasis on one paper would be "High-stake" as it would make the whole thing a gamble.

Will he be making Universities do the same? - their courses are modularised as well.

If he does change the courses (again) will he set asie enough money for teachers to plan them. Every time a course changes huge sums of money and staff time have to be spent. We are just making the change now for the 2009 and 2010 exams in both GCSE and A-Level - another quick change would be damaging to staff and leave less time (and money) for teachers and examiners to deliver the good to the students in the classroom.

A wise old teacher once told me that the examination defined the curriculum: get the examination right and the curriculum will look after itself.

This country now has an examination industry that turns out thousands of different papers each year; now would be a good time to prune it severely thereby saving billions of pounds, raising the standard of the tests and improving the quality of what goes on in the classroom.

Some of the best mathematics tests I have seen are the Maths Challenge and Maths Olympiad papers. I am not a mathematician, but even I cannot fail to appreciate the elegance of these papers, which take simple mathematical ideas and ask interesting questions about them. They are clearly set by people with a passion for mathematics. It cannot be beyond the wit of academics to produce similar papers for other subjects.

This type of paper would not suit all young people, and educationalists have agonized for decades over the relative status of different types of examination, which is what led to the GCSE. It is perfectly possible, however, to produce a rigorous examination that would suit those of a more practical inclination: City and Guilds did so for many years.

At a time when this country more than ever needs people with ideas and skills, drastic reform of the examination industry could provide the catalyst that is required: much less assessment, but much better assessment.

"A wise old teacher once told me that the examination defined the curriculum: get the examination right and the curriculum will look after itself."

Fully agree with that. It was Keith Joseph who brought in the mess we have now.

Absolutely Brilliant.

Now we just have to make sure that the final exams actually challenge the mind and offer true evidence of merit.

A few years ago I was trying to recruit a new staff member and I advertised in the Job Centre, specifying a need for a high level of English in particular.

Sure enough, candidates came armed with their A's and B's. Spelling mistakes on their CV. When asked to write a brief paragraph to test their English they couldn't construct a sentence. Had little understanding of paragraph structure. Spelling mistakes were everywhere.

Now I'm not saying I'm some sort of English Grandmaster. I'm sure people reading this post will find errors. But this was shameful and... unemployable. For me anyway.

Good. I dislike him for his other views, but he has unveiled some proper policies at education. If only he'd stop being a neocon!

I think that Michael Gove is an excellent person to have in charge of the Department of Education (could we please stop renaming ministries every time there is a change in the boss?) but I do wonder quite how detailed the involvement of the minister should be.

I think that education and the health service would do much better if the services were run mainly - not totally (their management needs greater efficiency) - by professionals with the remit of having to provide the best possible education for pupils or health service for patients.

On a different tack, it was interesting to read that only 10 teachers had been got rid off because of inadequate performance over the last 10 years. Chris Woodhead, after retiring as chief inspector of schools, suggested that many thousands of teachers he had seen should not be allowed to teach.

I don't want to knock hard working and inspirational teachers but those who switch off or who are totally unsuited to the job should not be allowed to continue. Education is just too important.

"it was interesting to read that only 10 teachers had been got rid off because of inadequate performance over the last 10 years"

Not sure where you got this number from. Is it the number of teachers struck off by the GTC? Or the number who made it all the way through the competency process? I can think of schools (in the maintained sector) where several have got out of teaching after the compentency procedure was begun, or who have been persuaded to leave by other means, or who simply do not have their contracts renewed after a year.

Tim, in answer to your query, a short article appeared in the Telegraph on Saturday 10 January on page 2, headed: "Poor teachers 'not being struck off'".

It stated that "Councils are required to pass details of incompetent teachers to the GTC, which was set up in 2001, but two thirds have not made a referral in nearly eight years".

Chris Woodhead claimed that a staggering number (was it 15,000?) were incompetent, so ten in eight years is rather worrying, as we all know that really bad teachers exist. I don't want to start knocking the unions but if the delegates you see at the annual NUT conference really are teachers, the picture is a bit worrying.

Before people ask, yes, I have been one myself.

Coursework has been a joke for some time and has contributed substantially to the ever increasing pass mark so I hope Gove is prepared for the drop in results. If he's smart he will be honest about it and point out the hollowness of Labours ever improving scores and the sham of world class schooling. Then he can build from a new genuine base.

Gove should use the SATS and public exams to produce value added school tables and then only inspect the worst 30% of schools in those tables. This would save a lot of money on the inspectorate and remove the stress and nuisance of inspection from a lot of good schools.

Finally, for a really radical approach, abolish the Department and set up an independent Royal College of Education to set the curriculum, mark the exams, train and license the teachers, and inspect the schools. Teachers would be members of the Royal College (like doctors) and fellows by peer review after 15 yrs service at the chalk face for a salary enhancement (to aid retention). This would de-politicise education in England for the first time since the 1840s.

Opinicus, your suggestion would meet the point I made yesterday at 17.13:

"Finally, for a really radical approach, abolish the Department and set up an independent Royal College of Education to set the curriculum, mark the exams, train and license the teachers, and inspect the schools".

I am in favour of debating independence (from the government) for universities, the Bank of England (not Brown's partial independence for the MPC), the CoE, the ONS, the civil service ...

Any more suggestions?

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker