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Exam system is failing students and employers

 Published on: 11th June 2013   |   By: Nik Allen

studyingAs an employer who regularly wades through CVs I was delighted this week when changes to GCSEs were announced.

There is no doubt standards have dropped over the years. I don’t say that to denigrate young people, just to condemn a system which isn’t up to scratch.

I often meet young people who have “good” GCSE results and, on paper, appear impressive. But work with them for a few days and it’s apparent that, enthusiastic as they are, they haven’t been taught the basics.

As a nation we are doing our children a disservice by maintaining a system which tells them they are all doing well – and in some cases tells them they have passed when only achieving 40% – but doesn’t really prepare them for the real world.

Back in my day it was straight forward. You sat the 11-plus and then, if academically minded, were sent to grammar school. The rest went to a comprehensive.

Now while it had its flaws, and I’m not calling for its re-introduction, at least it was easily understood.

I find it hard to know what it all means under the current system (even though I am a parent with two children who completed their GCSEs in recent years).

For example some pupils may have a GCSE result for English, others have a result for Foundation English. How do the two compare?

The current system delivers ever improving exam results which are held in declining esteem by employers.

The new system will be graded from eight to one rather than A* to G. There will be less coursework and fewer re-sits. Pass marks will be pushed higher too.

If I have one gripe about the changes it is that they won’t be implemented in Wales and Northern Ireland – both will retain the current GCSE system.

So anyone from these two regions hoping to secure employment in England might have some extra hurdles to face, explaining their results to a prospective employer. Likewise if an English person goes job hunting in one of these locations they will have to outline what their results mean.


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