How will the change from GCSEs to the English Bac affect children currently studying?
'Controlled assessment' and 'GCSE' will soon become a phrase of the past, just like 'O' level and 'CSE'.
Yipee. Michael Gove is promising us an 'end to the race to the bottom', an end to a varied selection of exam boards, an end to the year-on-year higher grades we have seen. Not to be outdone, Nick Clegg is promising more: a new system which will 'raise standards for all our children' and that it will give me, the parent, confidence in the exams my children are taking.
Except it won't.
Because in this pig's ears mess of an education debacle, two of my children are condemned to taking GCSEs, with all the accompanying media frenzy and Government talk of dumbing down, and they not being worth the paper they will be written on, and my youngest child will be a guinea pig for the new system.
Sorry, did anyone think about the children caught in the middle, the children (my children) taking GCSEs which have been loudly and publicly rubbished by this Coalition Government, but who will still be expected to sit them?
It's been called the biggest shake-up of our education system for a generation – you can say that again. This generation of children is growing up in the grip of recession, will have to pay exorbitant fees if they want to get to university,(for an education which was free to the very people now allowing fees of up to £9,000 a year to be charged), and a generation of children who will work their supposedly dumbed down socks off for longer and for less benefit at the end.
Sorry Michael, but I really don't think you've thought this through.
"Tom came home this week with his marks for all of his first year GCSE course work," said my friend Helen today. "But all he could say was that according to the Government, the A*s and As he had got were because we'd helped him, and were nothing to do with the hours he'd put in. I wouldn't mind if we had helped – but have you tried writing up your son's Geography fieldwork when you weren't even on the trip?"
And please can someone tell me how I am supposed to motivate my two eldest children to do their very best in their GCSEs when everywhere they turn, these very exams are being completely vilified and dismissed?
To add more worry to the mix, Helen, like me, also has a child who will sit the new English Baccalaureate exams, teaching for which is due to start in the school year of 2015, with the first exams taking place in Spring 2017.
"Well that assumes the Coalition Government stays in," adds Helen. "If Labour are successful at the next election, they could chuck the whole idea in the bin, and then what happens?"
Caroline Holder is head of maths in a comprehensive secondary school in inner London. It's no exaggeration to say she is in despair at this week's turn of events.
"In our school we estimate the new system will set up around 70% of children to fail. One size most certainly doesn't fit all when it comes to exams.
"The English Baccalaureate will simply test how good a student is at remembering things, and we all know that one end-of-year exam can't hope to test you on even half of what you have learnt in two years.
"The present system isn't perfect – but this new system will be a hundred times worse. Does Michael Gove honestly think a child with special needs and a highly gifted student should sit the same exam at the end of Year 11? It's plain bonkers."
For my part, I am, treading a careful path. I'm telling my studious hard-working oldest two children that they must just keep calm and carry on. They have no choice. My youngest will just have to get on with whatever is thrown at her when her turn comes to be tested at 16.
In the meantime, I hope an alien visitor drops out of the sky and asks Mr Gove to explain his current thinking – whether he does it in a controlled assessment style-setting, under exam conditions but with some warning, or whether he does it as a two hour grilling, I'll leave to the alien. He'll probably do a better job of running our education system than Michael Gove anyway.
Do you agree? Or do you welcome the changes?
How are your children going to be affected by the education changes?