Saturday, 12 February 2011

Options, league tables and English Baccalaureate.

It's that time of the year again.

Options time for year 9 students.

Or as I like to think of it: Trying to make my subject look much better than it really is, in order to get students who I don't want in my class, and who don't want to be in my class, to join my class.

This year it's a little different from previous years because we now have the English Baccalaureate.

Over the past few years schools in England and Wales have been placed into league tables based on the number of students who achieve 5 GCSE A-C passes (including English and maths).

The higher you are in the league tables, the better your school is, right?

Wrong.

For some years now schools have been misleading parents and students into choosing subjects which are "worth" 2 or even 4 GCSE grades in order that the school moves up the league table.

So, rather than do history or Spanish, students have been persuaded to opt for alternative qualifications which have made schools look amazingly better than they really are.

A school near me improved its 5 GCSE A-C pass rate from 42% to over 80% in one year just by introducing these alternative subjects.

I have no problem with students taking ICT or child care or pottery (people will always need MoMs) or even health and social care (whatever that is) but shouldn't all subjects be worth 1 GCSE?

The coalition government in the UK has introduced the English Baccalaureate on which it is now rating schools in the league tables. It also wants universities to accept the Ebacc as a minimum entry requirement for university. As far as I am aware, no university has subscribed to this, yet.

Am I fan of the Ebacc? No, not really.

I do have an idea, though.

It's going to be controversial.

Why not have a system where all subjects are worth exactly the same and students are impartially advised to choose a variety of subjects in which they can achieve and which will enable them to have a well-rounded education?

3 comments:

Adam said...

Impartial advice! That is a wonderland, Dom.
If your place is owt like mine Science is king. Students get to do 3 sciences if they want, but 2 langs, hist and modern studies (politics) oh no. Cos they don't go together do they.
At least we don't have to deal with the ignominy of league tables though. Although we "improved" our results simply by changing the exam sat by the less able!!!

Dom said...

See. I told you it would be controversial. ;0)

RachieBrock82 said...

Sounds like a good idea to me but I'm not sure how impartial advice is to be found! Our students opt in year 8 and it appears at least for now that our school ditching it's tech option block and putting in a humanities might actually help uptake of a second foreign language (they all do either french or german but can opt for both and/or spanish as an option) In the past students wanting to do two languages were put off as that left them with one option. We will still have alot of students who do not want to be doing the compulsory language though.