I was interested to read the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change’s proposals for education reform in England (Scrap GCSEs and A-levels, said Tony Blair Institute in call for ‘radical reform’, 23 August). Could this be the same Tony Blair who, in 2004, had vetoed the introduction of the radical reforms advocated by the Tomlinson report on the 14-19 curriculum?
As I recall, Mike Tomlinson’s plans were comprehensive, coherent and widely supported by those of us keen to see the introduction of a more youth-friendly curriculum. What a pity that, when necessary, Blair did not have the political courage to support the radical reforms so clearly needed. How strange that he is now calling a commission to investigate curriculum reform. What a disappointment that we had an analog prime minister in the digital age.
I support the Tony Blair Institute’s suggestion to reform the outdated GCSE and A-level exams. I am a university professor and I see the effects of our school system on a daily basis. The current system is narrow, only valuing the memorization of simple academic facts, and does not allow children to learn to think outside the box and develop independent critical thinking.
Many young people come to college without basic communication skills (verbal and written) and without any experience of trial and error. They are afraid to argue and do anything they consider “wrong” because they are so used to being rewarded just for getting a “right” answer.
Many freak out when they aren’t given all the details on how to complete an assignment and ask endless questions, right down to what font size they should use. The imagination and potential of young people are stifled by a system that accepts only one answer as correct, fails to teach them basic life skills, and fails to prepare them for life beyond the school gates. Universities are doing their best to overturn this mentality, but it is difficult when it is so ingrained throughout schooling and compounded by the ever-diminishing resources at our disposal.
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The education system is already undergoing radical change. This can be seen by the success of the first cohort of T-level students who collected their results alongside A-level students last week. One T-level is equivalent to three A-levels and 92% achieved a passing grade or better.
T-Levels are set to become the new benchmark in technical education, as they are designed by employers in collaboration with the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education (IfATE), an independent employer-led organization . They differ from past qualifying training because they include an internship which generally lasts 45 days.
The T-levels are based on the success of apprenticeships, which today number nearly 650, including 150 at license level. In addition to all the traditional professions, apprenticeship now trains the economists of tomorrow, nurses, aerospace engineers, game wardens, brewers, laboratory technicians, graphic designers and even archaeologists. We encourage GCSE students who received their results this week to consider these alternative routes, particularly those who feel they will benefit from time spent in the workplace and a different type of assessment.
General director, SiATE