Education, Generally

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  • I started this thread because there doesn't seem to be one on here about the education of our young people and it's a matter close to my heart.

    Today, our 16 year olds get their GCSE results. The A Level results came out earlier this week and were a ray of sunshine after the fiasco of last year's shambolic attempts by the education department to give appropriate grades. I think we've got it sorted this year.

    I'm as nervous for my students as I ever was when I was awaiting my own GCSE results. At least I've not been sick with worry this morning though. I'm off in to school this morning to be there when they all arrive and open their envelopes. I want to be there for them to see their faces and share in their relief and joy, or offer a consoling shoulder, or just be there to answer any questions. I care.

    And of course, two of the country's most celebrated 16 year olds get their results today. No medals this time for the "Cheeky Twins", but they've covered themselves in enough glory this summer, let's hope they get what they studied for while preparing for the Olympics.

    Our young people are incredible.


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    Everybody gets prizes these days. These "results" are not worth the paper they're written on. Teachers marking their own work. If I was a major employer I'd be setting my own entrance exams and the bar would be set high before you even got to first interview.

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    I did worry about that myself, Heero, but as I understand it, the pupils are now taking exams throughout the year and are being marked on their overall performance. I think that as long as teachers are double checking each other, there is limited scope for favouritism, because the exam answers are the exam answers.

    Some people are alarmed by the grade inflation, but really, it's not surprising. Students have been studying more and larking around less because they have not been at school for a lot of the time. Also, you are bound to score higher marks if you are tested on something you have just learned rather than tested at the end of a year.

    We must ensure that the examination system is conducted fairly, and I must say that this year I think it has been. I dare say we may hear about one or two abuses of the system, but overall, I think the education system has done its best to produce results that are fair.

    What I would say, though, is that these extraordinary circumstances will always be remembered by employers, and some may believe that the higher level grades achieved have given them an unfair advantage over other years. However, in my opinion, that is not to say they didn't earn it, it's just that those pupils that have already come through the system and those that come after will have been taught under different arrangements which they have not had the benefit of experiencing.

    But what alternative is there? You cannot ignore the hard work that pupils have put in under these new and temporary arrangements, can you?

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    My concern is that we hear of children leaving school and 11 years of education, barely able to read, write, add up or string a coherent sentence together yet have an array of glittering exam results.

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    Agreed, Heero.

    And how can pupils be leaving school without the ability to read and write?

    I appreciate that some children are greatly disadvantaged for various reasons, but unless they have a serious disability, I cannot see that there is any excuse for the way we have let down those who leave school without such basic skills.

  • The worst thing is how they are scoring them through COVID. Private schools get 70% A's and and state schools are getting 30% A's and if you live in London you get a better passmark than those up North.

    Sadly the education system means nothing. If you had the choice of hiring someone that left school 30 years ago versus today who would you hire if you only had their education to go by. Education has been deteriorating for years with every year the standards are being lowered. It wont be long before they wont be allowed to fail anyone. The introduction of multiple choice answers in exams should never have been invented as you can just guess your way through it. So if you are as thick as shit and guess all the answers but happen by chance to get a good score, does that make the person any more educated. Then there is the course work throughout the year which is variable depending on circumstances.

    I'm with Heero on this one. The best thing any employer can do is say 'forget everything you was taught at school. We are know going to teach you how we do things' and I think this is pretty much what most employers do now. As long as the person can read and write and do some basic maths nothing else matters. It then comes down to the persons character and how they present themselves. If you turn up for an interview looking like a freak of nature you may get a job in a pub but might not get the job somewhere else. Of course if the person doing the hiring is a freak of nature you maybe in with a better chance. It doesn't matter what employment laws say as any excuse can be made, first impressions count and if your personality fits the bill then your hired. It's very difficult to prove discrimination and companies are not looking for education. They are looking to see if you will fit in with the company profile / ethics and with the rest of the team. It's more about character and selling yourself. Blagging skills is probably the best thing that schools could teach along with self confidence.

  • My concern is that we hear of children leaving school and 11 years of education, barely able to read, write, add up or string a coherent sentence together yet have an array of glittering exam results.

    I don't know where you get that idea from. All of my students are quite proficient in reading, writing. They are quite articulate, capable of researching their subjects and making reasoned conclusions, reported in well written statements.

    I think a lot of this "Illiterate idiots" misconception comes from gammon-generation annoyance at the use of slang in the everyday lives and communications that they use. I find it irritating too at times, but every generation has its own argot. I'll bet you had yours in your day, daddy-o.

    When I was at school, "Textspeak" was the craze and we all did it. It caused a great deal of consternation and of course, the gammon brigade of the day got all hot under the collar about declining standards. Today, those children of the 1990s are the 30-somethings that are the backbone of the British workplace.

    I used textspeak the same as everybody else, but I think you'll agree I'm capable of stringing a sentence together, even if you disagree with what it says.

    Some reformers call for standards of spelling to be relaxed, arguing that if a word is mis-spelled, as long as it is the right word, the way it is spelled doesn't matter. I am not in that camp. I am quite a stickler for good English, especially spelling. For example, the difference between Cerium and Cesium on the Periodic Table is only one letter. Both are metals, but you wouldn't want to describe Cerium in an exam or test when you should have described Cesium. You'd get a big, fat zero for it (and possibly an "RTQ" comment in the margin).

    I think we should stop knocking these students and give them credit for having gotten through a really difficult year. We have assessed grades according to the data we had to work with. The grades are fair, have been double checked, then checked again. A lot of hard work and late night candle burning went into producing these grades and they reflect the damned hard work these young people put in.

    The fact that these students have completed their studies at all shows resilience, determination and application way above and beyond the call of duty. They could have given up. They could have quit and bemoaned their fate ........ "Why me...?" But they didn't. They toughed it out and succeeded. Today they got their just reward.

    I would think that employers would want to employ this generation of GCSE students for the qualities they have shown. They might not have taken final exams, but they showed guts, determination and application.... and sometimes for an employer, guts, determination and application is enough. It says as much about them as their grade.

    I'm proud of them.

  • The education personnel like to look at their jobs with rose tinted glasses. The fact is that there are many pupils who leave school barely able to read and write. I saw it while interviewing prospective trainees before I retired. I suspect that the schools are too busy teaching and encouraging Marxism, Wokeism and Alternative lifestyles. A bit of hard work by the teaching staff, concentrating on Literature, Physics and Mathematics would be advantageous to any jobseeker leaving school.

  • This morning was my first GCSE results day in the profession. I think I was more nervous than the students as they filed in, some white faced with worry.... almost scared to go up to the table to collect their envelope. Some who arrived in pairs or threes opened each others envelopes because they couldn't bear to do it themselves. One boy and girl brought their envelopes to me and asked me to read out their grades. It was OK. They'd done fine.

    It was like watching my own 16 year old self. Nothing has changed since 1990. LOL.

    I've been hugged to death, thanked profusely, told I'm the greatest and asked a hundred and one questions about A Levels or "What do I do now to get a job?" (the answer is: "The first thing you do is write a CV.... and make sure put get those grades where an employer can see them").

    Most of the teachers came in at one point.... they're all veterans at this and dealt with it easily, but I'm a novice. It's been a moving experience.

    Today, I came home with a fistful of thank you cards, several boxes of chocolates and two very nice bunches of flowers from grateful students who wanted to thank me that way. Bless them.

    It's been a long, hard haul. All those zoom classes.... all those extra lessons and classes after we came back. All that catching up and flogging through hour after hour, late night after late night.... getting everybody back to where they should be.

    When I joined this profession I never thought it would be anywhere near as good as the FSS, but on days like today, it is.

    Job satisfaction is off the scale today.

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    Just one of thousands of articles in MSM decrying the state of education in this country.

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    There are good schools and good teachers, of course, and the description you give of your results day shows that you are one of the good ones, so well done, Jenny.

    It’s a pity that more schools and teachers employed there aren’t like yours. We need to raise the standards of the failing schools we all know exist. Otherwise yet another generation of low paid workers, unemployed, homeless and low-life criminals hit the streets. This is not such a difficult problem to solve. We just need some vision and some politicians committed to avoiding the mistakes of the past by providing the education that these children need in a stable and disciplined environment.

    Although home life plays a part, and too many children from poor families don’t have the space to do their school work, I don’t accept that this is an excuse not to be able to read and write, or even to fail. Children who are falling behind should be compelled to do further work after school instead of going home (so that unco-operative parents cannot prevent this) and those without suitable peace and space at home should be able to use the school accommodation to carry out their studies.

    Somehow, we have to resolve this problem once and for all instead of just shrugging our shoulders and carrying on as before.

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    Just one of thousands of articles in MSM decrying the state of education in this country.

    The standard of some of the young people coming into positions where I last worked was a constant source of complaint by our managers. Lazy, clueless, couldn’t care less, can’t spell, can’t do simple arithmetic. This is the standard of education and standards of conduct that some schools are allowing to happen all the time.

    I don’t think some teachers should be in the teaching profession at all.

  • I think the problem is the vast differences between area's. An inner London school is going to be completely different from a school down in sleepy Cornwall as is a school say up in Tyneside. It's not only the school and the education system but the area and it it's surrounding culture or cultures that goes with it and has an effect on children's behaviour and education. If it's an area of poverty then you can expect the schools in that area to not do so well but if it's an area of more wealth then the education will reflect that. Add to this the class divide, social class that is not school class sizes, though school class sizes will also have a part to play. It's easy to pick one school and say it's good or bad going by one's own personal experience and it's something else to look at the national average. Even then we have to question how the national average is worked out.

  • A lot just seem to lack any form of common sense and have to be spoon fed everything, and if anything goes wrong its everybody else's fault and never their own, oh and they have to have some syndrome or whatever to blame for their actions when things go wrong which is used to absolve them of any responsibility.

  • I actually agree with you in some ways, but with a lot of reservations.

    It's a sad fact of any society, not just ours, that there are always some students who are unable to learn at the pace of the average student. These children usually fall into the category of Special Needs and should come under that umbrella. But a far greater obstacle to achievement are internal reasons such as instability of family life or poverty. The wider social environment a child grows up in also comes into it.

    Even in stable, relatively well off families, disruption to school life can happen. Example: I have two students in my year 8 group whose fathers serve with the Royal Navy. Naval personnel are transferred from post to post frequently (usually every two years) and this often means taking their children out of school in one base port (say, Portsmouth) and moving to another (say, Plymouth). This deprives the student of continuity of education. The child doesn't put down roots in one place and doesn't develop the important, stable relationships with teachers or fellow students that are essential to the learning process.

    So I do recognise what you argue, and I'm quite aware that there are under-achievers. All we seem to disagree on is what they are and how they occur.

    What I will not accept is that these children are all feckless by nature or are just "the scum of the earth" (yes, I've heard them described as such). A certain section of the adult population believes that the situation these children's lack of achievement at school is due to their laziness or disinterest in learning.

    There seems to be this perception - mostly among people of your political persuasion - that they are just plain bad. Not interested in learning. That they are and always will be useless to society and should therefore be written off as "a bad lot".

    Making blanket statements that they can't even read or write their own name are gross exaggerations used willy nilly to demonise any child who doesn't meet the exacting standards demanded by these blowhards who come across to me as adults who have fallen out of the stupid tree themselves and hit every branch on the way down.

    Yes, it is true that some students don't learn and the reasons for that can be many and varied. The fact that they are young and inexperienced in life is an unavoidable penalty of being young and it is not an indicator that they are inherently stupid.

    Some lack confidence. That is natural at 13 or 14. Some are suffering with conflict such as unstable family life, or poverty or as stated previously, a constantly shifting home environment. One of my colleagues told me of a girl who had to be a parent to her three younger siblings because her father had walked out on the family and her mother had to work night shifts to keep them. When she got home from school every afternoon she had to cook and clean and care for her siblings. How does a girl like that get any time to do homework or have a life of her own....see her friends.... do anything other than wash and cook and work...? That girl has no life. If she can't develop as a person, she'll never grow as a student.

    But your answer to her problem would be to tell her that she's not doing enough and heap more study on her..... call her stupid...... shove more homework at her..... tell her she is not achieving...... and if those enlightened measures don't work, eventually, write her off as useless. How does that help anything..? All that would achieve is to destroy what confidence she has and ensure that she grows into a dysfunctional adult.

    In my - admittedly at this point in time, brief - experience, young people WANT to learn. Yeah, they can be little sods at times but that's what you do when you're an adolescent and it doesn't mean you're a bad person. If you can't do dumb stuff from time to time when you're trying to come to terms with the way you're changing from child to semi-adult, when can you..?

    As adults now, who undoubtedly did dumb stuff ourselves when we were at that stage, I'd think we could cut youngsters a little slack. They'll grow out of it in time.

    But they must be nurtured. They need supportive environments at school and at home to give them confidence..... to show them where they go wrong, or are making errors...... to point out what the dumb stuff is and show them that this is something they need to get out of their system now and move on to bigger things. To let them see that somebody cares and wants them to succeed and will commit to that.

    My exasperated English Language teacher once pointed to the latest piece of poor work my 12 year old presented for marking. She looked at me with fierce determination on her face and said "I will not give up on you, Jennifer." That went through me like an electric shock. And she was as good as her word. She showed me commitment and I responded to it. I've never forgotten it and when I came into this career I told myself that that was how I'd teach. I will not give up on any of my students.

    I'm not unique in doing that. I'm not special. But the teaching profession - like so many other public services - is stretched by lack of investment, being used as a political football, beset by social problems created by cynical politicians and hounded by viciously dismissive adults who should know better. Problems that are way beyond the ability of children to either understand or cope with.

    Child poverty in Britain is very, very real. A child can't study well when he's hungry. An undernourished child doesn't concentrate in class. All he knows is that he's constantly hungry. When I read on these pages that people here support cutting school meals and letting children go hungry during holidays, I want to scream. These are CHILDREN for crying out loud. They didn't ask to be born and when I read trite, stooopid comments like "If people can't afford to feed their kids they shouldn't have them". (a comment you yourself have posted more than once) I call it ridiculous beyond contempt. Those children are not responsible or to blame for the situation they are in, and yet you first punish them directly for the environment they are in, and then blame them personally when they don't succeed to your arbitrary standards.

    I will continue to speak up for the young people in our communities. I didn't choose this profession as my first choice. I didn't study for it at university. I came into it because the career I studied and trained for - and was good at - was stolen from underneath me and there was nothing I could do about it. I was left out on a limb so after starting a family, I came to teaching.

    This is my vocation now and I will bloody well commit to it with all I have. To paraphrase my old English Language teacher, many years ago.

    I will not give up on them.

  • Never blame the children. It's not their fault that they have feckless, lazy, uncaring parents. Child neglect should be recognised and punished. A child only has one chance to achieve a good education,... If the parents can't be bothered helping their children achieve even a modicum of education, they don't deserve to to be parents. :(

  • Never blame the children. It's not their fault that they have feckless, lazy, uncaring parents. Child neglect should be recognised and punished. A child only has one chance to achieve a good education,... If the parents can't be bothered helping their children achieve even a modicum of education, they don't deserve to to be parents. :(

    What are you like...?? I despair.

    Have you got some sort of punishment fetish..? Do you fantasise about being the one wielding the whip, or pulling the lever on the gallows...? Why do you always see everything in shades of negativity that eventually come down to dealing out some sort of heavy handed punishment....?

    What are you going to do..? Take the children away..? Jeeezus. Saints preserve us.

    How about we address the problems that cause dysfunctional families...? Poverty...... unemployment........ walkaway fathers....... depression....... underfunding of social services.........

    All of these are causal factors. They - and others - create the dysfunction that results in the deterioration of social conditions and family stability.

    And they can't be put right by handing out punishment beatings.

  • HaHa. Anydots never misses an opportunity to play the player and not the ball.. The facts are that those poor children are not being cared for and loved by their parents. They are being denied the opportunity to grow up to become an educated, decent member of society by uncaring parents.

    Anydots appears to excuse those feckless parents, but she forgets that those poor children only have one chance of education in life and it should not be spoiled..... Maybe teachers with this poor attitude explains why so many children leave school poorly educated. A bit more commitment needed. ;)

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