Comments for http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html en-gb 30 Sat 31 Jan 2015 16:33:57 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html Nakor http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=99#comment150 136. At 8:56pm on 22 Nov 2010, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:106. At 4:53pm on 22 Nov 2010, shervette1 wrote:I just wondered if those people who feel the GCSE is dumbed down had any direct experience of them. Do they teach them or have they tried them? From a scientific point of view I just wondered what the evidence base was?------------------------------------------------------------20 years of increasing percentage of passes is a fair argument, and a fairly scientific one - unless you think that suddenly people have become much more intelligent in such such a short space of time ? ------------------------------------------------------------It could always be that the quality and / or style of teaching has improved? I would reckon that it's the style and method of teaching that has changed. It's seems to me that very few kids today are taught to reason, apply logic & common sense or how to use skills and knowledges in different ways. All they can do is learn what is neccessary to pass the exam.Even after passing with good grades, they still have little idea how to apply what they have learned in the real world because they only know one way to approach a problem. Tue 23 Nov 2010 12:28:41 GMT+1 Wilberfalse http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=98#comment149 As a former schoolteacher, university lecturer and so forth I would suggest a grown-up re-appraisal of the examination process per se. Ask the question, what do examinations prove other than that at a certain point in time and space a candidate performed according to the procedures laid down by the examiners?For one thing, examinations seldom if ever replicate real life scenarios. One may shine under the light of an examination having learned the techniques for success, only to be comparatively useless in the research environment. If an education establishment is unable to judge the progress of its pupils/students through continuous assessment then it is simply not up to the mark. The examination method is too confined. A candidate may be suffering from hay fever on the day – anything, and as a result? A future blighted on the throw of a dice. Absurd and unjust. Tue 23 Nov 2010 11:07:47 GMT+1 Megan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=98#comment148 My daughter's 14 and sat her first modules - in Physics and Chemistry - 2 weeks ago! Starting early and pacing it throughout the school career seems a sensible way of taking much of the stress and overloading out of it all, and still leaves plenty of time to discover what she actually wants to study next. As a teacher, I believe that learning is far more important that passing tests. As a governor in a primary school, I see that continuous monitoring of progress with timely intervention when needed is far more beneficial for the children than basing judgements on isolated one-off tests. Tue 23 Nov 2010 10:41:32 GMT+1 Rotherham Lad http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=97#comment147 "A report from an education charity is calling for GCSEs to be taken at the age of 14, after which pupils could go on to specialise in academic or vocational courses."Why not go that little bit further and allow those who don't want to go into vocational or academic courses to leave school at 14?The Olympics are coming soon - we might benefit from some extra child labour in the construction industry. Surely we can undercut immigrant workers, somehow!Sheesh! Mon 22 Nov 2010 22:50:51 GMT+1 Superlad http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=96#comment146 145. At 10:19pm on 22 Nov 2010, RHPT wrote:What a horrible idea. Our schooling system is increasingly prioritising exams over learning. Our children are already some of the most examined in the world, and we are seeing rising levels of childhood stress, and related illness, increase as a result. Can't we let children be children for a little bit longer?_________It seems that officials deliberately want to make conditions in schools more difficult.I'm all up for raising the bar, but at least have a good reason for doing so, rather than "just because we can". Mon 22 Nov 2010 22:39:19 GMT+1 Sid http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=96#comment145 On one hand we hear about kids leaving school, college and Uni with poor spoken and written English. On the other hand we have kids with A* at GCSEs and A-Levels.We are also told we do not need to have degrees to get a job, yet we employ migrants to do either the least educated jobs and the most educated jobs.My company employs cheap migrants from overseas and they all have a Master degrees.Looking at some of the letters I get from school, I think School Heads need to go back to school, preferably Grammar School to learn English grammar.As for doing exams at an earlier age will not make any difference, you are merely changing the goal posts. Does this mean there will be school leavers at 14.Its quite simple, junior school educate the kids to get into secondary school, secondary school educates the kids to get them into Uni. And in the process there will be drop-outs, because the system fails, the teachers, the parents and or the pupil fails.My policy would be to educate 4-10year old pupils to 11+ standards. And 11 to 14years old pupils in all 12-13 subjects to GCSE standards. So when they come to doing their GCSEs they will be merely revising for their GCSEs. And they carry on with 4 of the subjects to A-levels. Sounds too simple, I guess. Mon 22 Nov 2010 22:38:44 GMT+1 RHPT http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=95#comment144 What a horrible idea. Our schooling system is increasingly prioritising exams over learning. Our children are already some of the most examined in the world, and we are seeing rising levels of childhood stress, and related illness, increase as a result. Can't we let children be children for a little bit longer? Mon 22 Nov 2010 22:19:44 GMT+1 Superlad http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=94#comment143 Oh Mr Tie you are an odd fellow, I have no idea what you mean by 'bait', but don't get up on my account. Mon 22 Nov 2010 22:00:05 GMT+1 Gruffydd ap Llywelyn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=94#comment142 138. At 9:18pm on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:27. At 11:20am on 22 Nov 2010, Dai the Tie wrote:1. At 09:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:Nope, the SAT's are more than enough, I remember how stressful there (they) were.And I'm sure those of the older generation can remember how stress (ful) the 11+ was too.______________________________________________________You Joe, are a classic example of just how much the British education system has been dumbed down in recent years.______________________________________________________And replying to an opinion with an insult is clearly an intelligent way of putting your case forward is it?Thank goodness you were never one of my pupils. I won't rise to your bait. Mon 22 Nov 2010 21:40:10 GMT+1 topsail http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=93#comment141 As University will no longer be the norm for a majority of children, the schools need to deliver as much as they can in the available time. They need to pack much more into the courses so the children have at least some of the knowledge of today's degrees by the time they take A level and can be considered well educated people. At the moment, it is noticeable that everyone is coasting up to Year 9 when they start the GCSE course. Secondary education should be an integrated whole, not separate, disjointed courses for KS3,GCSE and A level. Mon 22 Nov 2010 21:40:02 GMT+1 Gruffydd ap Llywelyn http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=92#comment140 All that the current education system has achieved so far is, giving our children a false and meaningless sense of achievement from worthless GCSE qualifications. Moving onto SATs. SATs I personally feel, only benefit two factions... The school and a teachers ability to teach, not the child. Mon 22 Nov 2010 21:31:20 GMT+1 Superlad http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=92#comment139 40. At 11:50am on 22 Nov 2010, lucyloopy wrote:6. At 10:13am on 22 Nov 2010, Magi Tatcher wrote:1. At 09:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:Nope, the SAT's are more than enough, I remember how stressful there were.And I'm sure those of the older generation can remember how stress the 11+ was too.I can't say that I found sitting the 11+ stressful one little bit.******************************************************************I didn't find SATs stressful either. Partly because I knew I would pass them. That and the fact my grandad died around the time (I actually missed the science one because of his funerual) so had other things on my mind.When we were in the end of year 9, we had to pick which courses we wanted to do for GSCE, so dropping the age by 2 years will mean children need to choose afat the end of year 7, which is way too young to be deciding on your future (for example, many degree courses need certain A levels, which need certain GCSEs- it's very hard to get into medicine without triple science!)_____________________________________________I think in my case, I felt my school was inadequate, poorly managed and deprived of the proper resources. I can't say I liked it much either, between being constantly ill from various kidney infections and family problems similar to the ones Lucy has experienced (as well as having very unsympathetic teachers), I found both GCSE and SATs too much to handle.It's been 10 years since I passed my GCSE's and I'm hoping things have changed a fair bit since, in regards to the way exam preparations are managed. Mon 22 Nov 2010 21:31:03 GMT+1 John http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=91#comment138 Its impossible to answer this question, if they were brought forward we would have to see if the 14 year olds of today do better or worse in the long run. You really might as well toss a coin to get an answer to this one as no amount of research will give any conclusions one what might happen in the future. Mon 22 Nov 2010 21:24:15 GMT+1 Superlad http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=90#comment137 27. At 11:20am on 22 Nov 2010, Dai the Tie wrote:1. At 09:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:Nope, the SAT's are more than enough, I remember how stressful there (they) were.And I'm sure those of the older generation can remember how stress (ful) the 11+ was too.______________________________________________________You Joe, are a classic example of just how much the British education system has been dumbed down in recent years.______________________________________________________And replying to an opinion with an insult is clearly an intelligent way of putting your case forward is it? Mon 22 Nov 2010 21:18:47 GMT+1 Superlad http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=90#comment136 6. At 10:13am on 22 Nov 2010, Magi Tatcher wrote:1. At 09:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:Nope, the SAT's are more than enough, I remember how stressful there were.And I'm sure those of the older generation can remember how stress the 11+ was too.I can't say that I found sitting the 11+ stressful one little bit.___________________________________________Ah, but they're not all as bright as you Lady Tatcher. ;) Mon 22 Nov 2010 21:15:24 GMT+1 Can You Hear Me Mother http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=89#comment135 106. At 4:53pm on 22 Nov 2010, shervette1 wrote:I just wondered if those people who feel the GCSE is dumbed down had any direct experience of them. Do they teach them or have they tried them? From a scientific point of view I just wondered what the evidence base was?------------------------------------------------------------20 years of increasing percentage of passes is a fair argument, and a fairly scientific one - unless you think that suddenly people have become much more intelligent in such such a short space of time ? Mon 22 Nov 2010 20:56:33 GMT+1 Sagacity http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=88#comment134 Actually this already the case in Scotland (more or less). Students sit Standard grade in 4th year, a year earlier than the norm in England and then sit Highers which are a one year (University entry level) course in 5th year. This means pupils can go to University at the end of 5th year, 2 years earlier than the norm in England or they have the option of taking more highers and/or Advanced highers (=A'level) in a one year sixth year as opposed to the two year English 6th year. Mon 22 Nov 2010 20:37:13 GMT+1 stopthespin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=88#comment133 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 20:32:06 GMT+1 Eva Steinbeck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=87#comment132 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 20:31:33 GMT+1 Dave http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=86#comment131 More students than ever are leaving school unable to read and write. They are unemployable. Mon 22 Nov 2010 20:15:45 GMT+1 joleon1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=86#comment130 Another dopey idea ..why on earth is education the football of politics .. we have Gove ..who incidentally does not have a clue ...throwing all the balls up in the air at once with no idea where they will land..what education needs is a sustained period of consolidation ( lets say 50 years ) with just a bit of evolution to the process and none of this permanent revolution...Cameron would do his cause no harm by moving Gove to the hidden sidelines Mon 22 Nov 2010 20:12:09 GMT+1 betahail http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=85#comment129 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 20:05:51 GMT+1 Matt Satan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=84#comment128 If GCSE's are taken at 14 children would still be forced to make life changing decisions because it would be an excuse by teachers to channel children into those subjects they would appear to do well in - though not necessarily have a great interest in. What is more important: a passion for something or competence? Mon 22 Nov 2010 19:51:39 GMT+1 betahail http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=84#comment127 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 19:46:51 GMT+1 Phosgene http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=83#comment126 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 19:43:44 GMT+1 Phosgene http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=82#comment125 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 19:37:45 GMT+1 betahail http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=82#comment124 Good plan, in these times of austerity that nu-labour have caused it is important that we identify earlier the pupils that aren't worth wasting any of our limited education budget on. Perhaps those who are judged unworthy of continuing their education past 14 could be trained by private companies; I'm thinking a course on road-sweeping might be more appropriate than letting them waste any further time in education. Mon 22 Nov 2010 19:10:53 GMT+1 Hazel http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=81#comment123 To simon21 Message 110"How interesting. Your school was full of Welsh people? Are Welsh school children better than any others?"No, it wasn't a Welsh school. It was in England. Think back to 50 years ago (if you can think back that far) and your brain cell will remind you what sort of population the country had. They were *all* English speaking for a start. Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:43:18 GMT+1 U14366475 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=80#comment122 "111. At 5:10pm on 22 Nov 2010, Simon21 wrote:108. At 5:00pm on 22 Nov 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:"106. At 4:53pm on 22 Nov 2010, shervette1 wrote:I just wondered if those people who feel the GCSE is dumbed down had any direct experience of them. Do they teach them or have they tried them? From a scientific point of view I just wondered what the evidence base was?"Looking at the questions from past exams, I say they are very easy. Also these days you can pretty much "buy" the answers in the form of so called study aids, which clearly attempt to give you the answers without actually teaching you how to understand the question; a sort of memory test.-------------------------------------------------------------------------Wacky doo. In George Orwell's day you could practically buy the papers and if you had money (the key component) you could be "tutored" by the people who wrote them"And your point is? Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:42:02 GMT+1 stopthespin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=80#comment121 I think Andrew Marr summed it up quite well when he interviewed Michael Gove.Michael Gove repeatedly claimed eductation reforms where necessary to put teachers back in control, then contradicted himself by saying how the Government will tell them how they must do it....Marr called it the North Korean approach.... Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:28:24 GMT+1 Rachel Shafto http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=79#comment120 I picked my GCSE subjects at the age of 14 and made the dumbest choices ever. The subjects I took bear no relation to what I'm doing now...taking the exams at 14 means choosing your options at 12 and no 12 year old has the sense to make good decisions, they'll pick subjects based on the teachers they like and what their friends are doing.It makes me laugh that some people think exams are dumbed down now. I guess all those people who think that exams are too easy will be refusing medical treatment and not using technology as it'll be provided by the people who are so stupid that they only passed their exams because they were designed for nursery children? Of course, if one of the children of these people gets top marks in their GCSE's it will, of course, be because they took an exam that was 30 years out of date and therefore much harder... Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:26:29 GMT+1 stopthespin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=78#comment119 Raymond Hopkins wrote in response to # 113 (Caretakers)Provide teaching in place of testing? Splendid idea, but I'll bet my pension against yours that you'll never get that one throughI agree with caretakers - see #82We need to look at an assessment system that is better suited to what are both the needs of those being educated and yhe expectations of their potential employers, instead of political posturing and narrower interests of lobbyists and yes even some parents.Education is too important to be hijacked for party political objectives. Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:24:38 GMT+1 Catcradle http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=78#comment118 Well, since under the current proposals only the very wealthy will be able to dream about going to university, it makes no difference whether the rest of the UK's children have their academic ambitions aborted at 14 or 16. Maybe the earlier, the less painful, and they'll be too young to know the difference. At least they'll learn to make ends meet rather than starting off with 40K+ debts - and the state will always have its supply of cannon fodder. After all why bother teaching history or languages to a bunch of 15 year olds when the government clearly thinks even universities are wasting their time teaching them? Let's just teach banking and stock exchange trading instead... preferably starting right after the 11+ Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:08:02 GMT+1 Billy The Bull http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=77#comment117 In general this is a daft proposal - the curriculum for most GCSE subjects demands time to assimilate and for most students taking the "O" level exam at age 16 is absolutely right. However, if there are exceptional students, then they might be "fast tracked" at the discretion of their parents and teachers rather than waste 1-2 years for no good purpose. All it takes is a bit of commonsense and flexibility. Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:02:48 GMT+1 Artemesia http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=76#comment116 105. At 4:51pm on 22 Nov 2010, Simon21 wrote:"...For one thing we cannot know for the future what will be inmportant either in sociaty or economics. The idea that therefore all you need to to do is somehow educate people in the future for the jobs we now have is redundant.Or why "academic" qualifications only benefit brilliant (and of course wealthy) people.Much the same arguement was used against teaching children of the "lower classes" to read. It was thought to be comical."Who thought it was comical and when?'We must educate our masters' has been attributed to various politicians and thinkers around the time of the 1867 Reform ActI don't know of anyone then or susequently who thought the idea comical? Mon 22 Nov 2010 18:01:22 GMT+1 Catcradle http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=76#comment115 Children are already being forced to narrow down their options way too early, and many leave school without sciences or foreign languages. Of course since many now won't be able to afford post-16 education anyway and most won't be able to afford university. So more children from poorer backgroundws will just be guided to take vocational routes to low paid jobs as they'll be told as early as 14 that they can never succeed in academic subjects. It's very in keeping with the current policy of cutting off ambition and aspiration at an early age. But at least children from schools in poorer areas won't be tempted to aim "above their station" and we'll have a steady supply of cannon fodder. Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:36:02 GMT+1 Raymond Hopkins http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=75#comment114 At 5:25pm on 22 Nov 2010, caretakers wrote:Before I comment on the appropriateness of age related examination of children as opposed to assessment of progress, let me say that qualifications and education have been regarded as one and the same thing in this country for far too long and for political reasons only. I wish I had a pound for every ten to twelve GCSE at A* - C grades student I have met whom I consider to be relatively uneducated having little of either breadth of knowledge within a subject or balance across subjects.GCSEs are little more in a nation bereft of any semblance of a manufacturing industry than tickets doled out too cheaply to young people now waiting at the station for the next train to 'A level ville'. They are a shot currency having been devalued more dramatically since the advent of New Labour than is the Irish economy currently. Provided that pupils are given access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum taught with imagination, inventiveness, style and appropriate levels of competence there is no need to examine until pre university. In fact, I cannot see any reason for school examinations other than university application and even then the better universities do not always use exam results exclusive of other forms of assessment.We need an assessment system that will demonstrate to future university administrators as well as to future employers that prospective students and employees are educated beyond what narrow examination syllabi measure.________________________________________________________________________________________Provide teaching in place of testing? Splendid idea, but I'll bet my pension against yours that you'll never get that one through. Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:35:19 GMT+1 The_Prince_of_excess http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=74#comment113 Yes aboslutely. GCSEs were, quite frankly a doss at 16. I did no revision and the lowest grade I got was a C.That won't help fix the problems with our youths though. They still need discipline. Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:35:17 GMT+1 caretakers http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=74#comment112 Before I comment on the appropriateness of age related examination of children as opposed to assessment of progress, let me say that qualifications and education have been regarded as one and the same thing in this country for far too long and for political reasons only. I wish I had a pound for every ten to twelve GCSE at A* - C grades student I have met whom I consider to be relatively uneducated having little of either breadth of knowledge within a subject or balance across subjects.GCSEs are little more in a nation bereft of any semblance of a manufacturing industry than tickets doled out too cheaply to young people now waiting at the station for the next train to 'A level ville'. They are a shot currency having been devalued more dramatically since the advent of New Labour than is the Irish economy currently. Provided that pupils are given access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum taught with imagination, inventiveness, style and appropriate levels of competence there is no need to examine until pre university. In fact, I cannot see any reason for school examinations other than university application and even then the better universities do not always use exam results exclusive of other forms of assessment.We need an assessment system that will demonstrate to future university administrators as well as to future employers that prospective students and employees are educated beyond what narrow examination syllabi measure. Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:25:09 GMT+1 Paul http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=73#comment111 I don't see the problem with doing some exams earlier. It makes it easier to do re-sits if necessary. It would especially be useful for the mandatory exams such as Maths & English where choices wouldn't have to be made.As for whether GCSEs levels are easier than O levels - I've just had a look at some past Maths papers from various years. The first thing that struck me was that O levels were much easier than I remember them being (but I did get 98% in my mocks). So, I may have been subconsciously comparing GCSEs now with my A levels (which were my most recent pre-University exams) to think they were much easier now.However, the GCSEs are still easier than the O levels, just not as much easier as I thought they were. For instance, we did calculus at O level, nowadays that's left for A levels. There's the other thing that we didn't use (or even have!) calculators, we had to use log books for trigonometry. It was also an exam at the end of the two years, not spread out over two years.I do also wonder about the teaching! For instance, I know quite a few KS3/4 pupils and they all looked at me in horror when I showed them some simple algebra (simultaneous equations), expecting they'd be able to do them, and they told me they didn't do that until KS4. The national curriculum suggests they should be doing it in KS3, but they all agreed that they didn't... Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:21:01 GMT+1 Simon21 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=72#comment110 108. At 5:00pm on 22 Nov 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:"106. At 4:53pm on 22 Nov 2010, shervette1 wrote:I just wondered if those people who feel the GCSE is dumbed down had any direct experience of them. Do they teach them or have they tried them? From a scientific point of view I just wondered what the evidence base was?"Looking at the questions from past exams, I say they are very easy. Also these days you can pretty much "buy" the answers in the form of so called study aids, which clearly attempt to give you the answers without actually teaching you how to understand the question; a sort of memory test.-------------------------------------------------------------------------Wacky doo. In George Orwell's day you could practically buy the papers and if you had money (the key component) you could be "tutored" by the people who wrote them Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:10:47 GMT+1 Simon21 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=72#comment109 93. At 3:52pm on 22 Nov 2010, Hazel wrote:When I was at a primary school - yes a good one because the pupils were of the same indigenous background - we did spelling tests every lesson that took only about 10 mins, if that. When it came to the 11+, it was simply another test and most of us did not know what it was aimed at. Some got through and some didn't but those who didn't often went on to lucrative careers/jobs.-------------------------------------------------------------------------How interesting. Your school was full of Welsh people? Are welsh school children better than any others?And I might be wrong but when you look at peopkle in "lucrative" jobs more and more of them are shall we say er not exactly Welsh in appearance. Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:07:11 GMT+1 Peter Bridgemont http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=71#comment108 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:04:29 GMT+1 U14366475 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=70#comment107 "106. At 4:53pm on 22 Nov 2010, shervette1 wrote:I just wondered if those people who feel the GCSE is dumbed down had any direct experience of them. Do they teach them or have they tried them? From a scientific point of view I just wondered what the evidence base was?"Looking at the questions from past exams, I say they are very easy. Also these days you can pretty much "buy" the answers in the form of so called study aids, which clearly attempt to give you the answers without actually teaching you how to understand the question; a sort of memory test. Mon 22 Nov 2010 17:00:42 GMT+1 Raymond Hopkins http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=70#comment106 At 4:37pm on 22 Nov 2010, Artemesia wrote:1. At 09:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:"Nope, the SAT's are more than enough, I remember how stressful there were.And I'm sure those of the older generation can remember how stress the 11+ was too"........................................"I can't say that I found sitting the 11+ stressful one little bit.".............................................................I agree with MagiThroughout Primary School, the Teachers would do their own weekly ten minute little tests in Spelling and SumsScraps of paper were handed out and then 10 or so verbal questions, answers written down, handed in, marked during teacher's coffee-break and then handed back (immediate feedback, no waiting for results)Same at Junior School except the questions might be more mental arithmetic, general knowledge of what we'd been taught etcSometimes we'd have a 'printed' paper run off from a stencil copier machine, with ten or so questionsAll these little weekly tests devised by the teacher were taken in our stride and enabled her to assess usLeading up to the 11+ we had practice sample tests, in English, Arithmetic and also the IQ ones, again all taken in our strideSo, when it came to the actual 11+ although we were aware of what it was, we were so used to these tests that it created little in the way of 'stress'The touble is, today it seems that such a 'thing' is made of testing, I imagine the teachers' anxiety is transmitted to the pupils?___________________________________________________________________________________________Going back perhaps a little further, I well remember those weekly tests, and the daily ones too. It seemed even then that we were subjected to more testing than teaching. Come the 11+, and stress set in for many. Not those who were confident of passing. Not those who were confident of failing, or who deliberately failed in order not to have to do an extra year in school. For those on the borderline, well, it wasn't a lot of fun. Passing meant a lot of expense, and some parents couldn't afford it. Failing meant joining the 85% or so who could look forward to nothing much better than manual labour. Times changed, along with workplace demands, but nobody could see that coming then. Of course there were other outlets, but I can't help wondering how many never found them. Failure, even of the 11+, brings in an expectation of further failure. If nothing succeeds like success, I wonder why we were placed in an atmosphere of failure for the many. Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:56:59 GMT+1 shervette1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=69#comment105 I just wondered if those people who feel the GCSE is dumbed down had any direct experience of them. Do they teach them or have they tried them? From a scientific point of view I just wondered what the evidence base was? Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:53:35 GMT+1 Simon21 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=68#comment104 98. At 4:17pm on 22 Nov 2010, Raymond Hopkins wrote:One point about the old Technical School system that should be kept in mind is that children left those schools without any qualification at all. Certainly it was a better education than they would have got in a Secondary Modern, but speaking from personal experience, had no effect whatsoever on working life or the chance to get a job. Perhaps it was a bit different in other parts of the country, but that's the way it was in North-East England at that time, in the mid fifties. If modern children are to be pushed through a technical system, it is to be hoped that some decent qualification is offered.-------------------------------------------------------------------------A lot of the prejudice here is class-based which has bedeviled English education since its inception.It is not clear why a plumber or garbage collector should not have a degree.For one thing we cannot know for the future what will be inmportant either in sociaty or economics. The idea that therefore all you need to to do is somehow educate people in the future for the jobs we now have is redundant.Or why "academic" qualifications only benefit brilliant (and of course wealthy) people.Much the same arguement was used against teaching children of the "lower classes" to read. It was thought to be comical. Other countries which did not immediately associate education with status and rank surged ahead. Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:51:53 GMT+1 emcoluk http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=68#comment103 6. At 10:13am on 22 Nov 2010, Magi Tatcher wrote:1. At 09:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:I can't say that I found sitting the 11+ stressful one little bit.=======================================================================nobody did in those days. but we were raised different !! And GCSE's nowadays are only a little more difficult than the 11+ Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:47:37 GMT+1 archgrumpy1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=67#comment102 It would need a total rethink of the education system as in many areas the choices of which to take a\re being made at 14.It would help though if these were exams and not just repeatedly submitted pieces of work.I was amazed to hear that if you don't like your mark you can simply redo the work woth advice and resubmit!Exams were testing not scheming in my day Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:46:53 GMT+1 Artemesia http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=66#comment101 1. At 09:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Joe wrote:"Nope, the SAT's are more than enough, I remember how stressful there were.And I'm sure those of the older generation can remember how stress the 11+ was too"........................................"I can't say that I found sitting the 11+ stressful one little bit.".............................................................I agree with MagiThroughout Primary School, the Teachers would do their own weekly ten minute little tests in Spelling and SumsScraps of paper were handed out and then 10 or so verbal questions, answers written down, handed in, marked during teacher's coffee-break and then handed back (immediate feedback, no waiting for results)Same at Junior School except the questions might be more mental arithmetic, general knowledge of what we'd been taught etcSometimes we'd have a 'printed' paper run off from a stencil copier machine, with ten or so questionsAll these little weekly tests devised by the teacher were taken in our stride and enabled her to assess usLeading up to the 11+ we had practice sample tests, in English, Arithmetic and also the IQ ones, again all taken in our strideSo, when it came to the actual 11+ although we were aware of what it was, we were so used to these tests that it created little in the way of 'stress'The touble is, today it seems that such a 'thing' is made of testing, I imagine the teachers' anxiety is transmitted to the pupils? Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:37:09 GMT+1 Brian Berlin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=66#comment100 I took O levels at 14 and A levels at 16, then again at 17 - having two goes was great. Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:35:35 GMT+1 Astrid Lindborg http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=65#comment99 This post has been Removed Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:32:51 GMT+1 Nina http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=64#comment98 Well I remember taking my GCSE's and I could have taken them in the 2nd or 3rd year. It was like going backwards in the level that I had been taught to, especially in Maths. French was no harder at GCSE level than 2nd year either. Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:31:51 GMT+1 Raymond Hopkins http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=64#comment97 One point about the old Technical School system that should be kept in mind is that children left those schools without any qualification at all. Certainly it was a better education than they would have got in a Secondary Modern, but speaking from personal experience, had no effect whatsoever on working life or the chance to get a job. Perhaps it was a bit different in other parts of the country, but that's the way it was in North-East England at that time, in the mid fifties. If modern children are to be pushed through a technical system, it is to be hoped that some decent qualification is offered. Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:17:43 GMT+1 Peter_Sym http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=63#comment96 92. At 3:37pm on 22 Nov 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:Should GCSE exams be taken earlier? Well, I'd be surprised if most 14 year olds could not pass them, they are that easy._____________________________________________________To be fair I could probably 'pass' any GCSE exam you slapped in front of me now, but I wouldn't be getting the 98% marks many students are getting. However contrary to what the tabloids claim we still have 20-odd% of kids leaving school with no GCSE's at all. They're clearly not THAT easy. Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:07:58 GMT+1 bangmyheadonthewall http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=62#comment95 Exams and education - there is a point where real-world experience is more useful than schooling and exams. That point is different for each individual. For some it may be 15, others 18 or even after a degree is attained. Raising the leaving age will only cause difficulties for schools in trying to maintain discipline and interest with a section of pupils who would rather be off helping some decorators. Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:05:19 GMT+1 paul doherty http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=62#comment94 i want compensating, i didnt get this bespoke education when i was young, and i ended up with a rubbish job....gimme some money NOW !!! Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:04:50 GMT+1 paul doherty http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=61#comment93 how on earth do you expect a 14 year old to decide if they want to be a shelf filler or a burger flipper.....someone,s got to fill these vacancies? Mon 22 Nov 2010 16:02:31 GMT+1 Hazel http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=60#comment92 Quote Message 11 Mrs Vee: "Allowing GCSEs at the age of 14 is just an admission that they have been dumbed down enough for children to pass at that age. Perhaps '0' Levels could be brought back to challenge the brighter pupils?"Perhaps not. My children were doing A levels in 1984 and I saw some of their A level practice papers. My immediate thought was: "I was doing this at O level!" Now there's a proposal to do GCSEs at the age of 14. The next thing ill be to bring the age down to 11 and we'll be back at the 11+. That simple decides who is good can cope with academia and who is good with handwork of all sorts which are also moneymaking careers. When I was younger, there was a difference between a 'career' and a 'job. No longer. Plumbers can earn more than teachers etc.When I was at a primary school - yes a good one because the pupils were of the same indigenous background - we did spelling tests every lesson that took only about 10 mins, if that. When it came to the 11+, it was simply another test and most of us did not know what it was aimed at. Some got through and some didn't but those who didn't often went on to lucrative careers/jobs.Another exam, a 13+, often got those who blossomed a bit later into grammar schools or technial colleges. I know someone who went to a secondary modern school and finished up in the Royal College of Music. If only we could go back to that system and weed out those who keep the cleverer ones back; not just those with brain power but those with hand power too. That was the best system. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:52:19 GMT+1 U14366475 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=60#comment91 Should GCSE exams be taken earlier? Well, I'd be surprised if most 14 year olds could not pass them, they are that easy. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:37:54 GMT+1 Paul J Weighell http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=59#comment90 GCSEs at 14?Only goes to show there is no real replacement for the 11+ (even if I did fail it!).As a lad I was faced with 11+, 13+, ‘O’ levels, ‘A’ levels and ‘S’ levels. Several very solid tests at decent intervals from which employers could draw sensible conclusions.Putting all the eggs into one basket at 16 seems a rather non-rigorous way of measuring the performance of pupils, teachers and schools. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:35:14 GMT+1 Peter_Sym http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=58#comment89 88. At 3:10pm on 22 Nov 2010, Richard Kendal Leah wrote:I am not sure it matters any longer...I am amazed that many who "pass" these exams cannot even do basic calculation or tell you what the capital of Australia is or even who is the leader of the opposition. As for grammar, well, that's another story. I suspect most cannot divulge what the formula for quadratic equations is either (basic math)._____________________________________________________________________To be fair the capital of Australia (and most US states) are a bit of a trick question. Likewise I can't actually think which (if any) GCSE would require you to know the leader of the opposition. I had an English teacher who was extremely keen on us reading newspapers... not in the sylabus but she was 'old school' and believed in educating pupils not training them simply for exams.I've had no problem with 20+ year old students grasp of maths- they could probably do quadratic equations better than me (wouldn't be hard!) but what they DO have problems with is applying maths to real lab situations. There are plenty of websites will tell you how many grams of something in how many mls make how many moles but its damn irritating when they have to go and log onto a computer to find out something I was taught to do in my head (or if I was really lucky a calculator) at 14.Its not a lack of knowledge thats the real problem but a lack of knowing who to apply their knowledge...... plus a lack of common sense when the computer tells them something blatantly wrong. I had one student try to dissolve 2kgs of salt in 100mls of water! Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:33:38 GMT+1 Can You Hear Me Mother http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=58#comment88 Why not sit GCSEs at 12, A levels at 14 and Degrees at 18 ? That way no one would have to pay for a degree since you could take them at school ! Brilliant - I've just solved the higher education funding problem at a stroke. The only flaw would be that exams might need to be a tiny bit easier - still, rather like they have become over the last 20 years or so. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:26:41 GMT+1 Richard Kendal Leah http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=57#comment87 I am not sure it matters any longer...I am amazed that many who "pass" these exams cannot even do basic calculation or tell you what the capital of Australia is or even who is the leader of the opposition. As for grammar, well, that's another story. I suspect most cannot divulge what the formula for quadratic equations is either (basic math).It seems everyone passes these GCSE's these days. So whether the exam is taken at 14, 16 or even 12, it won't make any difference. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:10:27 GMT+1 Ron http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=56#comment86 This is a very difficult subject; clearly there are some very talented and bright children at the age of 14, and clearly there are some not so bright and in a race for equality we are setting some up for failure if we do theses exams too early. My personal experience is that my children both seemed a little too immature to care about the years ahead at the age of 14 or indeed 16. My children are not stupid and they have a good grasp on commonsense but they are not the academic kind sadly and it does not make them bad people.I would like to see children taking the exams when they are ready and being not being forced to by an impatient education system. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:09:10 GMT+1 yorkshiremum http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=56#comment85 Choices have to be made at some stage of a child's life and whether that is 11, 14 or 18 is open to debate. However, if you take GCSE's at 14 what the heck are the children going to do for the remainder of their time in formal education?I think some children - mainly boys - would benefit from leaving formal, classroom education at 14. But we have got rid of all the Secondary Moderns, all the Technical Colleges, all the Polytechnics and a lot of apprenticeships because they were seen as lower somehow. Now we are realising that not everyone is cut out to a life in acadaemia and that an education in one of the above institutions is not necessarily a second class education. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:08:35 GMT+1 Spicycushion http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=55#comment84 It looks to me that it the old Technical schools syllabus coming back and no bad thing either IMHO. Could it be that at last someone has realised that one type of education doesn't fit all?Additionally to remark on RadialSymmetry's No57 comment, I have been a teacher for over twenty years and a GCSE English marker for 15 years, and I KNOW that, given a pre1984 exam paper, most of today's candidates would struggle with a CSE let alone an exam which was once needed to get into Higher Education. It may be that the pupils do work hard but that begs the question why school sixth forms now have to teach 'Functional Skills' because what they learn in English and Maths now has no relevance to practical life and requirements in the real world,but hey, they can all get an A !One final point to prove the current exams are not equal to, nor better than 'In my days'.The maximum number of O levels allowed to be taken at my Grammar school was 8; A levels, maximum was 3. With these we could get into any Further Education we wanted, including Oxbridge. Yet I have taught in a High School where girls, thick as two short planks, are sitting 10 GCSEs. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:07:10 GMT+1 The Forgotten Man http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=54#comment83 Oh..It took them several decades to suss this one out then!To the alarm of several on this board it is pretty well what is happening already in some schools. Universities actually take more notice of what the expected grades will be as assessed by the teachers than the actual grades anyway.One very important point not mentioned by any of the worthies in any of the "advisory" organisations or "committees" and completely (unless I have missed it , then apologies.) not referred to in any of these comments is that age is a single very imperfect framework for deciding who takes what level of exam.Some children could very easily do GCSEs by 14 and A levels by 16. They are often the "very bright but don't apply themselves" types who , because they have energy to spare, channel their intellect in other less advantageous ways. Because almost nobody, certainly with any power and influence, has both seen this and can do something about it we have millions of children who simply "mark time" until they reach the "right" age to progress to the next level. Some get lost during this time. Too early to make career decisions? sometimes yes. Somewhere out there is a news report of a 25 year old footballing fanatic who said without any hesitation that he was going to play for England in the World Cup. His name was David Beckham.Getting it wrong at 16 is far less serious than getting it wrong any time later. Mon 22 Nov 2010 15:07:08 GMT+1 Peter_Sym http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=54#comment82 68. At 1:43pm on 22 Nov 2010, Wyn wrote:"Re. the non-academic degrees you mention in your last paragraph. It's not really a matter of sneering. It's just that I can't really see the necessity of training at anything above about HND in these subjects - if that! One of the people I keep in touch with in Wales is in HR management. One of his major gripes is that the vast majority of jobs which require qualifications that they advertise require nothing higher than a couple of A Levels at most (with the odd HNC or possibly HND now and then). But huge numbers of graduates apply for these jobs - mostly with mickey mouse degrees."I more or less agree, but its exposing the myth of the 'in the old days 5% of school leavers went to university'. The extra undergrads these days are mostly going to universities that used to be polytechnics (so their students didn't count as 'going to university') and did 2 year HND's rather than 3 year degrees. Its worth remembering that there have been calls to reduce BAs/Bsc to 2 years in some cases (and in some cases I agree)Not nearly as much has changed as some will claim. It doesn't even 'dumb down' degrees because no employer thinks a degree from Luton is the same as one from Oxbridge nor is a degree in nursing considered equal to a degree in medicine. As for the final part. MY first job was advertised as 'requires 2 A levels' when I wouldn't have even got an interview without a degree. Its a scam on behalf of employers. They get graduates but don't have to pay graduate wages. I'd be interested to hear what your criteria for a 'mickey mouse degree' is though. Subject? Institution? Grade? Its worth pointing out that my housemate has a VERY well paid job in the civil service and has a degree (MA) in the US civil rights movement. In depth knowledge of Martin Luther King is of zero relevance to the job he does now but the degree proves his intelligence and his ability to carry out in depth research unsupervised. Transferable skills are very important these days. Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:45:04 GMT+1 stopthespin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=53#comment81 I think this is education policy by experimentation and political bias, again. The problem with this is the Government of the day will give creedence to the recommendations of whichever body appears to sit best with their political philosophy.It seems Governments automatically believe they should change the system as soon as they are elected, essentially to conform to their own political agenda and not on the merits of what is best and what works for those directly involved, which is not the politicians and lobbysts.I think refrms if necessary need to be gradual (1) to give them time to work or not as the case may be and (2) to allow those directly affected, mainly the pupils and teaching profession, to evaluate them.Also, I believe politicians and parents should have less say not more as is often advocated.What I would also agree with is that exams are not the be all and end all - we don't generally feel we need them in industry. Instead we use a system of continual assessment and measurement by results. Similarly, rote learning, having a penchant for taking an exam or even just having a good memory are not things you see employers looking for on your CV. 40 years ago, I had a teacher who I believed was truly inspirational and backed this up with outstanding results. Yet even he thought that formal exams GCE O levels at 16 and GCE A Levels 18 found failed many students. He advocated that students should have been allowed, like in a work place, to use books and or/ask questions of peers, collegues, etc.I would like to see a greater emphasis on training the teaching profession in developing skills in recognising when and how to help their pupils recognise and specialise in what best suits them in terms of ability and aspirations, and by that I mean a natural progression, not artificial streaming. There also needs to be a greater emphasis on promoting softer skills for teahers not just their academic ability. All too often a very academically qualified person can still be a poor teacher because they lack the XFactor....how to make their subject so interesting and appealing and easier for the students in the class. Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:43:28 GMT+1 newageoracle http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=52#comment80 There is nothing wrong with giving young people a test at around age 14 i.e. before the final tests at completions of compulsory education. The proviso is that they should be used in a postive way to assess strengths and weaknesses for pupils and teachers to work on together. The current bureaucracy led system is too concerned with grading/streaming and classifying young people with certificates that will determine their options for future development.Instead of labelling pupils at the end of their compulsory education....the focus should be on testing their ability and aptitude to succeed/benefit from further academic or vocational education or training. education/training. That would put the onus on the pupils to decide for themselves (with guidance if required) what they want from education and life.Finally, the doors should not slam shut at any stage of life,n obody shyould be made to think that they have missed the boat. Education is a lifelong experience which should have infinite entry - exit - re-entry points. Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:39:56 GMT+1 Nick http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=52#comment79 Any HYS about education always seems to include a healthy dose of “dumbing down”. Having taken public exams fairly recently my observation was that they don’t change from year to year. In the exams I found myself doing questions I had practised several times before. I think I would have done worse if they were “dumbed down” but with vaguely different questions.I am worried I haven’t fully understood the proposal. Young people specialise too soon (totally agree) so the solution is to take GCSEs earlier so that they can move into more specific education? That can’t be right because it makes no sense. Education should be about showing your capabilities but also equipping you with essential skills. To me these are two different things and our exam system should reflect this. Some should give more precise marks, an A at A level and even an A* fall into quite big boundaries and there is a score out of 600 waiting to be used. Others should be more like a driving test, testing competency rather than giving a grade. Essentially, fattening as well as weighing.The worst thing in my view would be to separate vocational and academic study as two distinct paths. I don’t think they often go together (though they do with something like medicine or teaching) but I feel young people should be encouraged to study some vocational courses and some academic ones before making any big decisions about their futures. Surely one of the biggest demands on our current and future workforce is flexibility. Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:14:25 GMT+1 TheUrbaneSpelunker http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=51#comment78 It doesn't matter when the exams are taken, simpler teaching by simpler teachers and learning the stuff to get you a pass are what's created a badly educated UK.I heard a discussion on the radio about modular delivery vs the good old 'final exams'. The argument for modular was that the all-in-one-go final exam (O & A) put too much pressure on and that kids "...didn't do what they were good at!!" I thought the whole idea of exams was to test the students mettle as well as their ability to study...to study a subject they were not 'natural' at and STILL show some achievement, with most people maths would fall into this category! You studied hard you 'grasped' the basics and you passed an exam showing the ability to take on a task you found fundamentally difficult but ultimately showed you could develop enough of an understanding to stand on your own and deliver.Isn't that what taking exams is all about? Overcoming adversity, proving an ability for personal management, showing independence?Obviously not, so as the educational standards of the UK decline are we not heading for a seriously dim future where the rich hold all the good jobs and rule over the working classes...actually that sounds quite good to me :) Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:06:47 GMT+1 mike ivybridge http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=50#comment77 If, with the introduction of independent schools, this is a gradual slide back to the 11+, it could be good. The 11+ gave many working class children (including me) the opportunity to receive a first class education, which is nowadays is not possible. With some exceptions, the comprehensive system has generally produced two generations of people who, through no fault of their own, are poorly educated, poorly disciplined, lacking in respect, lacking in knowledge and common sense, and quite inarticulate. If our country is to survive, the next generation must not have the same shortcomings. Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:03:48 GMT+1 Peter_Sym http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=50#comment76 62. At 1:24pm on 22 Nov 2010, Chris wrote:And if they fail at 14? If our educational system is recognisable by the dearth of employable students coming out at the other end (as highlighted by the majority of Company CEOs recently), then why produce an even bigger pile of unemployable, illiterate no-marks by allowing them to leave school early? Unemployed, and unemployable at 14!!!!!__________________________________________________________________As opposed to failing at 16? I presume that there are no plans to change the age at which you can leave school. If that is the case then it means you have 2 years min. in which to take the kids who fail at 14 and get them onto vocational schemes. You don't need GCSE's to become a mechanic but you do need training and if the training is there for them at 14 they may be better off than at present. Of course this needs joined up thinking by those in charge and plenty of money so its unlikely to happen as neatly as I wish Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:01:57 GMT+1 steve http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=49#comment75 52. At 12:40pm on 22 Nov 2010, Phil wrote:"I remember my GSCE back in 1994... what they're doing now is so easy it a joke!!!"-------------------------------------------------------------------------And I remember my GCE 'O' Levels, back in 1963...what you did in 1994 was so easy, it was a joke!!!---------------And my Father remember matriculation back in 1947 what you did in 1963 was peanuts!andMy Grandfather has pointed out that the School certificate in 1926 was harder than a degree now.My Great great great,etc grandfather remarked that advance Fire Making and cave painting was far superior.Every generation thinks the next has it easy.Personally I suspect those about to take GCSE ,A Levels and degrees now are likely to have it a bloody site harder than I did 30 odd years ago Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:01:56 GMT+1 Simon21 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=49#comment74 54. At 12:43pm on 22 Nov 2010, Raymond Hopkins wrote:_______________________________________________________________________________________Agreed. Why do the British consistently downplay anything good about the country? Whatever problems there may be in education, and I have no doubt that problems can be found, British education is still highly regarded, and rightly so. Incidentally, your comment on Finland is correct, but may I add that university tuition is not only free, but is aided financially. Nobody here that I've ever heard complains that there are too many at university, or that it's too expensive to support. Strangely enough our taxes, if higher, (and that's open to doubt) are not appreciably so. I wonder why.------------------------------------------------------------------------Clive James once asked why the British of all people constantly try to run down their institutions. The BBC, The NHS and the education system, were, (and to an extent still are) envied by practically every other country in the world.Yet the right-wing media consistently runs them down. The apparent rationale being we must be as much like the US as possible and we will then be as powerful as they are.In terms of university to say you have too many graduates is like saying you do not have enough illiteracy or people are too well. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:57:44 GMT+1 Peter_Sym http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=48#comment73 57. At 12:49pm on 22 Nov 2010, RadialSymmetry wrote:I'm guessing all the regular knee-jerk reactionaries on here who claim that exams are a piece of cake now compared to in "their day" have never looked at a contemporary set of exam papers. For once in your life why can you not actually admit that teachers and students work extremely hard to produce the results they do?______________________________________________________________I'd more or less go with that. I've only experienced one major problem with English education (I say English because the Scottish system is more old fashioned and still requires large numbers of basic facts to be remembered in order to pass the exam) which is that the students I get (I'm 33 BTW) are incapable of doing really quite basic calculations regarding concentrations of chemicals in solution. I couldn't have passed S-grade chemistry without being able to do these sums.However in most other areas of knowledge the students I get now seem as capable as ever and are very competitive. There is much in the sylabus now which wasn't there when I was a kid,Perhaps the English exam system would be better served if the grades were standardised? i.e the top 10% get A's, the next 20% B's etc. That way even if one years paper really was easier than a previous years you wouldn't have everyone getting A* ? Universities wouldn't have to worry about setting higher and higher entry requirements each year and employers could easily see who the very, very best students are. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:56:52 GMT+1 Semisatanic http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=47#comment72 I have watched News 24 all day and i have still not herd about this story!BBC, are you going to let us talk about issues of the day or just keep fobbing us off with these non stories???? Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:56:47 GMT+1 BradyFox http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=47#comment71 What's the obsession with exam results in the first place? Everyone knows that education results have little to do with whether a child will be successful or not. In addition, why is it that an under-performing student is denied access to further education due to their results? Surely they need more time in education than the rest! Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:53:03 GMT+1 Simon21 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=46#comment70 50. At 12:29pm on 22 Nov 2010, Wyn wrote:MDon't know any of the latter but I do know a few nurses, some of whom are 'on the job' trained and some who have done nursing degrees. As both types of training are currently available and as the end products of the training end up doing the same jobs - it seems to suggest that uni level education is not necessary."------------------------------------------------------------------------I know a few nurses too. And I also know the massive rise in patient litigation and insurance preimiums. University degrees are becoming increasingly necessary for anyone involved in treatment.Some theorise hospital porters and cleaners will soon have to have the highest qualifications to work with or near patrients if hospitals and care services are to shield themselves from massive claims.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sorry I don't agree. I don't call churning out thousands of dole queue candidates with mickey mouse degrees a success story.Hmmm but our top universities havine been educating people in theology and Classics ever since they were founded. Mickey mouse degrees surely?And isn't Mickey Mouse one of the most successful brands ever invented?Not sure if Walt had a degree but I know millions who have who wish they could invent another equally as successful character.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Incidentally in Finland EIGHTY PERCENTAGE of women go to university. Iceland & Norway are just a little behind. I'm not sure how this is relevant to the UK. And I certainly don't want to start paying Scandinavian rates of taxation.------------------------------------------------------------------------But most of us certainly want Scandinavian rates of pay and holidays. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:51:04 GMT+1 LynseyinLondon http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=45#comment69 I am a parent and former secondary school teacher. I would agree with GCSE's being offered at age 14. Frankly I see huge failures in our current system whereby bright keen students are just reduced to the lowest common denominator. I have recently withdrawn my own 13 year old son from a "good" secondary school in LB Barnet because I felt his intelligence was given insufficient credit, and he is capable of accomplishing far more than school seemed to get from him. In spite of some staff claiming he would be capable of passing GCSE ICT he was not allowed to sit the exam at age 13 as "what would he do for the next 3 years?"Lack of attendance due to extreme boredom on his part in some subjects was countered by threat of fines (which I am vehemently against, a ridiculous notion of "one size fits all" punishment...in cases where punishment per se is not the appropriate action). After half a term at home he is accomplishing wonders academically, fixing his mind on long term goals, and crucially is a much happier teenager. I've no regrets about my decision; if GCSE were possible at age 14 it could give teenagers such as my son a fuller sense of achievement which school at present seems unable to.I should add that I intend to relocate to California for the sake of my son's future. Too many aspects of British life - education being one of them, simply seem to lack any forward thinking. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:50:54 GMT+1 Jan-Ann http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=45#comment68 "Specialise in academic or volcational courses" HYS - "young people to take exams two years earlier in order to give them an idea of their capabilities before they choose qualifications for the future."So now they might need exams to work out what exams they're going to take and two years less to study those subjects. What about just having a decent academic education from word one? Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:48:03 GMT+1 Baron Samedi http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=44#comment67 msg 59. At 12:51pm on 22 Nov 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:I agree that there are more academic subjects than there were 50 years ago. My point is that - apart from these academic subjects - universities are offering courses (and far too many of them), which are not academic. And I want more - not less - doctors, enineers etc. And I want more home grown artisan/service type people (taught at the appropriate institutions and at the appropraite level) so that we can employ these (and those similarly trained in our partner countries in the EU) so that we don't need to import those from outside the EU.Re nurses. My point is that nursing training (I'm sticking with the nursing example as my late mother was a nurse) used to (and can still) be done on the job in hospitals. The people trained in this way - when they enter the workforce post training - are doing the exact same job as those who did a nursing degree. I'm suggesting that this demonstrates that nursing, and many other professions, are vocational rather than academic in nature and do not require a degree.I'm fully aware of the excellence of postgraduate research departments in UK unis. And I want more of this excellence - which, IMO, is only going to be possible if we revert to thinking of a university education as providing an elite academic education as its purpose.Re. the non-academic degrees you mention in your last paragraph. It's not really a matter of sneering. It's just that I can't really see the necessity of training at anything above about HND in these subjects - if that! One of the people I keep in touch with in Wales is in HR management. One of his major gripes is that the vast majority of jobs which require qualifications that they advertise require nothing higher than a couple of A Levels at most (with the odd HNC or possibly HND now and then). But huge numbers of graduates apply for these jobs - mostly with mickey mouse degrees. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:43:48 GMT+1 Black_And_Proud http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=43#comment66 More nonsense from Prof Smithers.The real question should be whether the increasing numbers of GCSEs being taken provide value for money or educational benefits. Why do we think anyone benefits from taking 14 GCSEs, apart from accumulating points? Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:43:22 GMT+1 Sian Rose http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=43#comment65 Ah how nice it is to see all those people petrified of the well educated young adults coming up behind them mocking the ease of GCSE's! Perhaps you would like to sit down and retake your 'O' levels as GCSE's and see how well you do! No other country in the world would feel the need to constantly put down their youth, their future, in this way! Perhaps all us young people should take our worthless degrees and exams and go and work abroad, where they actually mean something! Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:42:47 GMT+1 David Overment http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=42#comment64 At last, I have been advocating for years that young people provided they have a good schooling in the three ‘R’s should be able to choose between academic and a vocational (more hands-on) or trade based education. This has so many advantages that those youngsters who are bored witless by the formal classroom can be released to "get their hands dirty" and learn a trade so that they have a skill to earn a living. This country is in dire need of practical skills to re-establish its manufacturing base. The more academically inclined then can pursue their classroom based studies without having to battle against disruption and peer pressure.If managed properly this will substantially reduce truancy and re-establish the labour force in this country instead of trying to turn everyone into a graduate.In my early days in construction I worked with time-served tradesmen who took seven years to acquire their skills starting at 14 as indentured apprentices on a quarter of a tradesman's wage; at 16 the went to half a man's wage and from 18 three quarters until 21 when they earned a full tradesman's rate. This was lost to the sub-contract system (which started as the Lump in the 60's) which generated a much more mobile workforce reducing the opportunity for on-the-job training.We need to re-establish our trades based workforce before these skills are permanently lost, not just in construction, but throughout our industry, which we are losing to those cultures and countries that respect the practical skills for their value to society and do not consider them to be menial.Some people are good with their heads and some are good with their hands and we need to recognise and respect this. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:41:50 GMT+1 chrisk50 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=41#comment63 I'm all for it as an option, should the child, parents and the teacher agree they are ready for it. it may even put pupils into advanced subjects they are good at and enjoy doing. A pupil that excels in one subject taken away from a disruptive class and put with other like minded pupils will perform far better. Do you really need to have GCSE in history and geography to be a brilliant mathematician? If you don't want to learn a subject then you won't, as many school leavers have shown. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:27:47 GMT+1 Seqenenre http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=41#comment62 From what I've seen of the GCSE's these days pupils could take them at the age of 9, do no more work and still get an A. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:26:41 GMT+1 Chris http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=40#comment61 And if they fail at 14? If our educational system is recognisable by the dearth of employable students coming out at the other end (as highlighted by the majority of Company CEOs recently), then why produce an even bigger pile of unemployable, illiterate no-marks by allowing them to leave school early? Unemployed, and unemployable at 14!!!!! Life really just doesn't get any more pathetic than that!!We are tinkering around with education, instead of getting stuck into the basics. We need to ask ourselves why we are the least literate and numerate country in Europe, then sort it. Simple. Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:24:02 GMT+1 tardigrade http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=39#comment60 52. At 12:40pm on 22 Nov 2010, Phil wrote:"I remember my GSCE back in 1994... what they're doing now is so easy it a joke!!!"-------------------------------------------------------------------------And I remember my GCE 'O' Levels, back in 1963...what you did in 1994 was so easy, it was a joke!!! Mon 22 Nov 2010 13:17:35 GMT+1 Tezbuzz http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=39#comment59 Raymond Hopkins- degrees are not for me. One is more than enough. I graduate with a undergraduate Masters as it's a four year course with industrial experience. I am currently on placement and also doing university work on top of a 9-5 work day. I will continue to learn and read, and I'm sure I'll make use of the U3A when I'm older too. I can't see myself doing a separate Masters or Doctorate. By the time I graduate in 2012 I know that I will have had enough of organised education. I don't plan to stop learning but I know I'm not a big studier. I love to learn, but I hate exam taking and essays etc. I'd rather just have the knowledge not be tested on it repeatedly. Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:55:18 GMT+1 Peter_Sym http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=38#comment58 #50. My whole point is that there are more academic subjects than 50 years ago hence a need for more graduates unless you want LESS people studying medicine, engineering etc Regarding Plumbers- the £60,000 a year plumber was mostly a myth before the recession and certainly one now. The house building industry is wrecked and needs people earning graduate (and then some....) salaries to actually buy the houses. Plumbers, electricians etc are service jobs, not 'Industry' Its not the same situation as the 1940's when you hundreds of thousands building ships (which are sold abroad for cash), hundreds of thousands more making the steel to build the ships and a million down the mines mining the coal to smelt the steel! (can you guess my family come from Clydeside and Tyneside?) Even the armed forces were ten times the size they are now and offered amazing vocational training.... all virtually gone now.Why would more graduates mean scandanavian levels of tax anyway? Only if the full cost of their education was met by the taxpayer and they didn't go onto earn anymore than they would elsewhere.I suspect you (and many other people) are choosing to misrepresent Blairs '50% going to university statement'. He didn't wake up one day and suddenly decide that 50% of kids should go to university.... he had an independent report saying that by 2030 50% of jobs in the UK would require a degree. Quite different.You also seem to think that university's sole purpose is to teach undergrads. In actual fact this a small part of their purpose. Its remarkable how many new drugs and devices come out of university research depts. My former university invented the MMR scanner. That brings in about £20 million a year in licence fees.Whether or not you feel that nurses (or a variety of other jobs we could name) require university training is debatable, but without question SOMEONE has to provide the post-secondary school training and universities have the infastructure (medical schools) and experience to do it. You could set up 'nursing schools' and offer 'certificates' rather than 'degrees' but ultimately its just changing the names of the qualification.As a final note- you might sneer at degrees in 'surf management' or 'golf course design' but these are growth industries and their graduates have a higher rate of employment and pay than graduates in traditional subjects. Its not the 1950s- the jobs that make money these days are not the jobs that made money when my parents were at school. Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:51:26 GMT+1 Josephine http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=37#comment57 My son's school has just run a trial this year where they have taken maths, science and history exams a year early - that made him 14 years old when he sat the exams this june, as he is one of the yougest in his year. He is very bright but not an A* student. This meant he had to sit his history exam (which is quite an in depth and work intensive exam)at 14 years old. This is the same exam that if taken a year later (as in most schools)the pupils who are the eldest in that year would be approaching 17 years old. That is nearly 2 years age difference in two students sitting the same exam.I had major reservations about GCSEs being brought forward a year as alot of the pupils (especially the younger ones in the year) are not mature enough to sit them. Kids really dont need this pressure before they are able to handle it.Oh and guess what - the school has seen this as an unsucessful trial and will not be repeating it with the next year of students.Why they have to keep changing the education system is beyond me. When I see some of the job applications written by students coming out of school I am aghast at the standard of numeracy and literacy. They should be taught english, maths and science as we were a few decades ago. This generation of kids has been conmpletely failed by the education system. Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:50:46 GMT+1 Small acts of defiance http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=37#comment56 I'm guessing all the regular knee-jerk reactionaries on here who claim that exams are a piece of cake now compared to in "their day" have never looked at a contemporary set of exam papers. For once in your life why can you not actually admit that teachers and students work extremely hard to produce the results they do? Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:49:24 GMT+1 zrzavy http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=36#comment55 GCSEs could be taken years earlier.Primary school (age five to age ten or eleven) is a waste of everybody's time, as parents could teach their children more in less time if only they tried. Primary school is a glorified nursery - emphasis on play, play, play, not work, work, work. Primary school it where the majority of children learn that they will never do very well in lifeCut out primary school and send children to the next level at age nine. Take GCSEs at age thirteen. Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:46:57 GMT+1 Small acts of defiance http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=35#comment54 This doesn't make sense. Surely by forcing children to take GCSEs even earlier, that forces them to make "life-changing decisions" even earlier also? In my view this proposal would put children from affluent, middle class backgrounds with better-educated and supportive parents at an even greater advantage in the increasingly competitive education market than they already have. Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:46:43 GMT+1 Raymond Hopkins http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=35#comment53 At 11:48am on 22 Nov 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:29. At 11:27am on 22 Nov 2010, Wyn wrote:"And all courses and exams at all levels need to be made much more academically difficult.And university admission should be made far more competitive.And you shouldn't be able to get in without a minimum of 3 Cs at A level (that's three Cs at a new A level standard that's a difficult as they used to be before the dumbing down of the last 25 years or so).And we should go back to means tested maintenance grants for those who do get in - based on say 5% to 7% of school leavers getting in to uni."________________________________________________________________________The problem with that is back 40 or 50 years ago when 5-7% of school leavers went to university there were plenty of well paid jobs in industry for those with more vocational skills to go into. In addition subjects like 'IT' or (my degree) Genetics simply didn't exist. In addition universities have now taken on subjects that used to be taught 'on the job' such as nursing, or (one I wished I'd taken) 'aircraft engine maintenance' Britain is a completely different place to 50 years ago and universities have done a damn good job adapting. They're one of our very few real success stories of the last 20 years.Incidentally in Finland EIGHTY PERCENTAGE of women go to university. Iceland & Norway are just a little behind._______________________________________________________________________________________Agreed. Why do the British consistently downplay anything good about the country? Whatever problems there may be in education, and I have no doubt that problems can be found, British education is still highly regarded, and rightly so. Incidentally, your comment on Finland is correct, but may I add that university tuition is not only free, but is aided financially. Nobody here that I've ever heard complains that there are too many at university, or that it's too expensive to support. Strangely enough our taxes, if higher, (and that's open to doubt) are not appreciably so. I wonder why. Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:43:22 GMT+1 steve http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=34#comment52 Why not start children's formal education at 1 that way we can have them out of University and paying back their mega debts by the age of 16!Alternatively for the less academically gifted we could have them start work at 12.It could lead to a revival of the chimney sweep industry!Alternatively as the system isn't broke don't break it. Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:43:09 GMT+1 Phil http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/11/should_gcse_exams_be_taken_ear.html?page=33#comment51 I remember my GSCE back in 1994... what they're doing now is so easy it a joke!!! Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:40:09 GMT+1