The big debate in education at the moment is whether GCSE examinations should be continued, replaced by other exams or should be scrapped altogether. We arranged for two of our clients to be involved in the discussion, St Mary’s School, Cambridge and International Baccalaureate were featured in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 22 August highlighting their views. Educational establishments, organisations and politicians have all been involved in discussing whether exams in UK schools are fit for purpose for a number of years, yet the debate continues.
In recent weeks the national newspapers have been packed with conflicting stories on the success of state schools versus private schools, disputing The Telegraph’s headline: “state pupils put private schools in the shade”. This headline was purportedly based on an analysis of A Level results showing that private school students were being outclassed by top performing state schools. The Guardian begs to differ – according to the chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) The Telegraph has compared the top 500 state Sixth Forms with almost every private school in the country that offers A Levels (amounting to almost 500), not a fair comparison after all.
Fuelling what is already a raging fire is a think tank’s claims that schools should be “fined” if their pupils fail to get at least a C grade in English and Mathematics at GCSE. Policy Exchange, the think tank responsible for the report, believes that the money gained from fining schools should go towards teaching the thousands of pupils who will have to sit those exams again under new government legislation.
So, not only do schools have the pressure of competing in the league tables and being compared against their state or independent ‘equivalents’ but they now have monetary fines to contend with too.
While we welcome this lively debate we can’t help but wonder when discussion will finally translate into action.