The issue of being more lenient with students - GulfToday

The issue of being more lenient with students

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

British education

Boris Johnson plays with toys as students look on during a visit to The Discovery School in Kent, Britain. Reuters

I honestly don’t know what’s happening to the UK education system. At one time it was the most prestigious system in the world. But over the past 20 years it’s had a rollercoaster of an evolution and I don’t think any of them are for the better. It’s just made it easier for kids to pass their exams by making it less about the actual exam day.

It started off with the dreaded O’ levels. These were a bane for most pupils’ lives up until 1995; passing those exams was like walking through hot coals. Some passed but a good many either failed or got mediocre results simply because they were that tough. This predicament was compounded by the fact that not all school teaching systems were the same across counties and boroughs. Some taught O’ levels well whereas others did a terrible job even though they were all working from the same syllabus.

Those who the teachers deemed were not ‘smart’ enough to study for their O’ levels were steered towards CSEs and JMBs (Joint Matriculation System). These were of a lower level but, in order to move onto being able to study for A levels, in each subject pupils had to get a Grade 1 which was deemed equivalent to a C in an O’ level. But despite it being easier, examiners were still fairly tough and didn’t always reward kids with a Grade 1; many ended up with a 2, 3 or even 4. Whereas grades A, B and C were passes at O Level, grades 2, 3 and 4 in CSEs and JMBs were fails.

Because of the way O’ levels were structured, very few pupils in many comprehensive schools got a chance to study for their A levels so not that many went to universities. Then after 1995 a dramatic change in the examination system was introduced by the British education authorities.

For some reason, they not only amalgamated O levels and CSEs into GCSEs, they also structured the final grade in such a way that the exam was not the only contributor to the final mark. As a result, children started passing their newly formed GCSEs by the millions because their coursework also contributed to the final grade. As a result many kids got other people, like their older siblings or friends who were at university studying for their degrees, to help them with their coursework. So the question that has always been on my mind is, did those students who passed their GCSEs really earn those grades or did their brother or sister or friend?! No one will ever know.

Now, as we all know, 2020 has been a year that no one will ever forget. Because of COVID-19 most people found pain and stress during these times because of job losses or working from home. With the stress of being locked down for weeks came the added pressure on parents for their kids not being able to go to school. Most classes were held online, a mode of education that is not for everyone. Were their careers doomed or delayed?

Well the latest development in the British education system is a real ‘gem’ and something that most countries in the developing world would vehemently deny happening even though the chances are that it may be true. Many people in developed countries find qualifications from developing countries highly suspect. The rumour, or not, is that days prior to the exam, students managed to get hold of the actual exam paper because someone released it under the table. Either that or the examiner has been bribed or threatened into marking a particular student up. I’m not saying this actually happens or doesn’t happen. No one can tell for certain but the fact that this notion is out there is enough to tar a country’s education system even though not all children may have been privy to the early release of the paper. Nevertheless, their reputation is also tarnished.

But the change proposed by the British education authorities is very odd; almost radical. They’ve decided to tell students in advance what the questions on their exam papers will be. And apparently this was brought on by Covid and the fact that schools were closed for months on end. But rather than sully the name of the British education system, surely it would have been better to just mark exams more leniently?

I guess there are two types of British graduates. The first studied hard for their O levels and through immense pain managed to get into a university. Those were graduates prior to 1995. Then there are those after 1995 who passed because they got a lot of help from many places, if you see what I mean.

Related articles