What’s Happening to our Education System?

The education system is currently rumbling on through a rough set of rapids. The government is attempting to implement significant changes to the assessment model, but these changes would appear to only make the situation worse. Although Michael Gove is correct that the education system may need adapting, his ideas appear to resort to a model that has already been tried and has already failed. Schools have become machines for churning out students with high grades. And although this is an admirable end, the means we use to achieve it has led to students who are not necessarily enjoying learning. This is because schools are becoming associated with stress and tension, for students, instead of being a place of knowledge and a place to learn. Assessment should not be eradicated just adjusted to reflect a student’s progress through a new, far broader frame through which education should be viewed.

The situation currently continues to produce students who can achieve high grades and who go onto to university to achieve good degrees. However, it is precisely because of this constant pressure to hit targets for both schools and their students that illustrates the real problems with the system at the moment. Head teachers are under constant pressure to hit targets in order to attract more students and eventually lead to more funding. This pressure filters down to the teachers and eventually it is landed on the shoulders of the students. I have experienced schools doing a fantastic job to educate their students to achieve high grades and yet I get a sense that in many circumstances, the enjoyment and well-rounded knowledge that should accompany education, is being misplaced. A further feature that this produces within children is the fact that they feel that cannot have fun in school and let themselves go and be exactly what they are; children. Where the chances are given for children to take part in extracurricular activities, on many occasions students state that their revision is more important, or they have too many deadlines to be doing these other things. Activities such as discussing politics, taking part in a charity group or writing for the school newspaper are considered pointless as there is not a qualification to gain at the end of it. There is a fine balance to find between educating our children well, whilst remembering that education is crucially far more than what you learn in a classroom, and schools need to be allowed to accommodate both.

If Gove’s changes were to come into full effect the chances of education becoming a more fluid term, would take yet another hit. Students need the flexibility to be able to learn in different ways, and certain students do not learn well through exams. The Department for Education wants to eradicate coursework and focus solely on end of year exams in an attempt to make GCSE’s and other qualifications harder for children. The reason for such changes is the perceived reality that GCSE’s, in particular, have become too easy and our children are thus not well educated. Making these changes would most definitely make them harder and would equally make them not as fair. Humans learn in a variety of ways and currently children are assessed in two ways. The government is proposing to change that to only one way. It seems illogical to think that this is a fair way to assess our children and more importantly a true reflection of a child’s intelligence. The goal of producing better educated students for the working world is surely a goal we all share; achieving this through more exams and with less emphasis on coursework is foolish. We should be striving to open our students up to world of knowledge that is out there so they can develop their skills in a variety of ways involving a variety of topics.

Michael Gove is a perfect example a politician who does not understand the department he is charge of and importantly the people he is apparently trying to help. A private schooled individual, who went through to one of the countries best universities before finding himself within politics and now government; he does does not understand a multi-cultural state school situated within the centre of a large city. He cannot have a good understanding of the how these schools function and how they help the individuals they teach, to achieve the best of their ability, as he has never truly experienced such an environment. This is a broader problem with politicians in general not understanding the areas they hope to positively effect, and in this instance, Gove may genuinely feel that the education system he experienced is the model for all to follow. However, in reality this cannot be right, and schools need more freedom, more guidance and a more flexible framework to be able to work within.

These changes in theory work to produce excellent schools with the provision to educate our children in all manner of ways. However in practice they are very difficult to implement because of the societal pressures and the perceived status quo we currently abide by. Schools, for the most part, still work to a national curriculum which provides structure and consequently pressure, to learn a set number of subjects to be assessed in after a certain amount of time. This type of education is admirable and we must continue to assess out children in certain ways in order for them to progress with their academic development. However, there needs to be equal importance given to students exploring their worlds, from 5 through to 18 and beyond.

Learning is a holistic, lifelong practice and should always be promoted as such. Schools need to be given the freedom to provide this service. These changes can be legislated by government; however, society currently does appear to want to afford such freedom to a child’s learning. Once at university this freedom to explore your own learning is returned to you, and to the great benefit of those that experience it. Our younger generation, who still require guidance and structure, need an environment through which they can explore, learn, and most importantly, enjoy the world around them.