I say ‘my’ because I am 17 and currently in the education system, having just finished my AS levels. Incidentally something Gove wants to scrap. The education overlord has deemed that students should take all their exams at once at the end of the two years. This is a purposeful attempt to take away second chances from those who deserve them, to take away the opportunity to turn your education around. I have no idea how many hours of time I spent revising for my AS’ but I assure you, they were not easy. I felt challenged and frustrated by the subjects I took, having to learn huge swathes of information from only one year. Moving this to after two years will only add to an already large work load for students. The other advantage of AS’ is that you can reassess your options. I know huge numbers of people who began their A level courses intending to study a certain subject at university, only to find at the end of their first year, they were not as suited to it as they thought or their grades were not as high as they had hoped. Having the system split into two years allowed these people to drop the subject and to focus on others which they were doing better in. Without AS’ it’ll no longer be possible for students to re-evaluate what they want with their education in such a manner.
I have not pointed out being able to resit as an advantage of AS’ because I don’t believe it is. I’m sure to the outsider, resits must seem like A grades handed to students on a dinner plate, but they are in fact the ultimate Catch 22. If you don’t work hard enough the first time round, sure you can take the exam again but the chances are it will be alongside other exams which are likely to be more important. You’re then faced with the challenge of either not revising for your resit or taking away revision time from the more important exams. Resits do not guarantee your grade will change, all resits do is give people who do not feel they worked hard enough first time round to put the effort in and turn their education around.
The problem with our exams at the moment is the way they test people. Gove has made no proposals on altering the format of them, only taking away the coursework element, one of the few parts of exams which allow students to be creative and inventive, exploring avenues within their subjects which hold true interest for them. Gove is mercilessly ripping into a system which although nowhere near perfect, is not going to benefit by these unnecessary, bureaucratic and irrelevant changes. Yes perhaps exams should be made harder, but not in the way most people assume. At the moment, the majority of exams I have taken have been a mindless regurgitation of information onto an exam paper, with little individual thought having to go into it. To improve exams, you need to give students the opportunity to think for themselves and to show off their intelligence, rather than being force fed every last piece of information to impress an examiner. This is not what Gove is proposing, I repeat, this is NOT what Gove is proposing.
Finally, this is the thing that infuriates me most of all. I have had no say in any of this. If we ignore the fact we have a coalition, and assume that we have what is effectively a Conservative government, I was not allowed to vote against this government because I am under 18 and I am deemed not intelligent or politically minded enough to vote. None of this was mentioned in a Conservative manifesto, so even the fools who did vote for the Conservatives did not vote for this. There appears to have been no consultation with any students even though we are the people who will be affected by this. Michael Gove is not going to have to go back to secondary school and resit his A levels, nor are any of the current government going to have to pay £9000 to go to university. Yet, they continue to believe that it is acceptable to decide what is the right pathway for those mindless, idiotic under 18 year olds who are hardly conscious, let alone literate. I feel like I am watching an educative dystopia unfold, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it.