Why bother changing the GCSEs?
The initial reaction from stepping out of that dreary exam-hall (that had, until recently, quite literally held host to my nightmares) for the last time – until of course the notorious AS examinations – could only be described with that word: relief.
Relief in the sense that the summer stretched out gloriously ahead of me, nothing more; relief that I had vanquished 18 GCSE exams and was free from the clutches of desks, pens, books and post-it notes (the banes of my life); relief that I had escaped Gove’s restoration of the O-Levels (which he denies being the ‘O-level’, but lets be honest: it will be) for 2014, with a vague sense of pity for those that were to suffer it. Long has that ‘O’ meant nothing to me: perhaps O stood for outdated, or outrageous, or maybe replicates, or did so for myself, the shape of a gawping teenager as they open their first paper and the proverbial faeces hits the fan in failure.
Nonetheless, a degree of smugness couldn’t be helped, which I shamelessly admit now, that I was free of the examination-based qualifications that lack the benefits of coursework. Whilst the pathetic shaking, unstoppable quivering and persistent doubts that are so concomitant with exam-fear do lower performance for some, coursework can convey an inkling of intelligence. Yet Gove, a word unfamiliar until June when I heard it alongside words like ‘leaked’, ‘Daily Mail’ and ‘O-Level’ and one which I have an intrinsic animosity towards, has decided to expose us to a ceaseless set of exams that I am sure many will fall prey to, with a lack of coursework.
Furthermore, the current system of several exam boards, to be potentially replaced by a single exam board-based dictatorship, allowed teachers a variety of syllabuses to choose from, with a variety of difficulties for a variety of pupils, yet instead, it seems logical (which it isn’t) to force us into a single, monotonous procession, with a discriminative two-tier system, of ‘tougher’ O-level-style exams for the more intelligent, and patronisingly ‘more straightforward’ exams for the less academic, with even more rigid marking schemes to grade exams that results in further teaching to exams. At least he’s capable of using euphemisms.
Supposedly, success rates in GCSEs are constantly rising, from which, obviously, anyone can deduce GCSEs are becoming far too easy, and that obviously, it couldn’t possibly be the case that the youths of Britain, forever branded as disruptive and chaotic, were actually working harder, actually being taught well. Of course, we should be punished with harder exams – the only solution. That, my friends, was sarcasm. One of the many rhetoric devices taught to students across the country in preparation for their English GCSE – as we are working harder, and are in fact being taught better.
Additionally, Thatcher abolished the old order for a reason, so what’s the point of returning to Year Zero, when we know GCSEs are the higher form of exams? Gove, I use his surname bluntly, just as Harry Potter would whisper ‘Voldemort’ with enmity, claims that ‘the system is not working for them [the supposed moronic, hooligan-children of Britain]’, yet I, who admittedly may only represent a proportion of the country’s teens, have heard no specific outcries towards the current system. Could you highlight the precise issues with the current system, Gove?
Moreover, Gove, exams, as a concept, as a principle, as a process, do not work for us. Can you actually admit you enjoyed any of your exams? The phrase ‘enjoyable exam’ is an accepted oxymoron. Fact. If you wish to change something, abolish exams completely, instead of making them more stressful for us. No seriously, do it… It’s a better solution than changing an entire foundation, and undermining two years of GCSE results due to the Rise of a Third New System, so that the supposedly more challenging grades are preferred to GCSEs – it’s a betrayal of the lowest kind, essentially.
Thousands of books will be wasted, elder siblings’ innovative tricks and tips rendered useless, and at least two generations will suffer at the hands of a sudden, sporadic change with thousands of teachers requiring retraining, costing yet more money for Britain, so the simple question must really be: Why bother? (That, of course, is rhetorical. Yet another device, friends.)Tagged in: A-levels, AS-levels, coalition, coursework, education, examinations, exams, gcses, michael gove
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