Tag Archives: politics

Computer Science is more important than RE?

Today the government announced that Computer Science is going to be included in the English Baccalaureate. It will count as a science alongside physics, chemistry and biology. This follows Gove scrapping ICT and bringing in a more challenging computer curriculum, in order to meet the demand of technology in the wider world. Last October saw computer giants Google and Microsoft called upon Gove to include the new computer science curriculum in the EBacc.

This is quite an interesting move by Gove. Quite rightly, the current ICT curriculum is inadequate in preparing students for the wider world, especially for students who leave school straight after GCSE’s and head out into the world of work. However, there are a few issues with including it in the EBacc. Firstly, money. One of the main reasons that ICT has been inadequate is the lack of funding that has historically run alongside it. Technology moves very quickly and a lot of schools have failed to keep up with it due to financial restraints. So I’d quite like to see Gove put his money where his mouth is and support schools to deliver the new Computer Science component adequately. Secondly, while I think the inclusion of a more rigorous IT course is a good move, it has come at the expense of other equally worthwhile subjects. RE and the Arts have suffered greatly under the creation of the EBacc and this is a massive error on Goves’ part. There are many benefits for students to have to take an art through to GCSE, and RE is going to continue to be marginalised.

But RE isn’t going anywhere for now. And it’s not being quiet about the contant attacks from Gove. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about how the RE community is fighting back. To start with, the RE Council has launched a campaign, ReThink RE.

ReThink RE

The campaign is clear. Good quality RE for all students. And for that to happen, it should be treated equally alongside other Humanities subjects.

Our aim is simple. We want to see every young person in every school given access to good quality RE. And we are urging those responsible to rethink their approach to RE.

RE links very well with the other Humanities subjects so including it with the EBacc gives it the same status. Why Gove is so against this I don’t know. But RE plays a vital role in a young persons education and it is worth fighting for.

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Gove reforms A-Levels

So in the same week that Gove said school’s shouldn’t call snow days, he’s calling for reform over A-Levels. Gove has been hellbent on changing the education system, so that it’s more like it used to be, more like his experience. It’s quite possible that this isn’t the best idea an Education Secretary has ever had.

From 2015, students will no longer be able to do modular exams towards their final A-Levels. They’ll have to do all their exams at the end of the 2 year course. AS levels will still exist, but they’ll become stand alone qualifications. This sounds like a two-tier system to me, similar to the one Gove wants to bring in for GCSE reforms. His arguments for this are:

  • He feels that A-Levels, as they currently are, fail to prepare students for university.
  • He wants them to have a deeper understanding before they go to university
  • He also believes that universities and business want greater rigour and the current system doesn’t provide this.

You can watch him explain it here. What is interesting though, is the amount of criticism and disagreement that has come from both universities and business. For example, on Twitter this afternoon, Cambridge University said that the reforms will:

“jeopardise over a decade’s progress towards fairer access to the University of Cambridge”

screen-capture-3And here’s more information about they think being reported on Twitter from FT Education correspondant, Chris Cook. Also, Neil Carberry, the CBI’s director of employment and skills said:

“Businesses want more rigorous exams but we’re concerned that these changes aren’t being linked up with other reforms, especially to GCSEs. We need a more coherent overall system.”

Not only that, but it will mean that universities are going to have to rely more heavily on school references in order to offer places to students.

So if some Universities and business leaders are criticising it, feeling that it’s rushed and incoherent  then why on earth is it all happening so quickly. Surely, Gove should be having an open dialogue with a variety of educationalists in order to do the best thing for students, instead of just pushing his own agenda. This is going to be problematic for a lot of students.

That’s not to say that the current A-Level system is perfect. It isn’t at all and it does need looking at but what Gove is suggesting doesn’t seem to make the system better for the majority either. What a shock.

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