Revision Buddies Blog

Bring back foreign languages at GCSE

Compulsory subjects at GCSE are provided to ensure that people get as good a grounding as possible in those subjects considered to provide key skills in future life and key knowledge in understanding the world around us. With increasing developments in globalisation the need of an English speaker to learn another language is becoming less and less necessary, however is it creating a nation closed to the exposure of experiencing other cultures as well as our own?

In 2004 the Labour party removed the compulsory taking of a foreign language at GCSE from the national curriculum. Whilst many will have sighed with relief, it leaves those who do want to learn it at a disadvantage – it is a difficult GCSE and as a result many will shy away from the challenge of it owing to the fact that league tables, CVs, university entrance etc. require good grades. If you had the choice, would you risk it? The result has been a steady decline of foreign languages being taken at GCSE over the last few years.

By not making this a compulsory GCSE, most students are only given 3 years’ opportunity to learn a foreign language, which, quite frankly, is not enough. Learning a foreign language is not just about learning to read, write and speak it, it is about learning about another culture, another way of life and different attitudes to life. By shutting off learning another language, today’s students can only become more insular looking.

Whilst it can be argued that globalisation enables many more people to communicate through the internet, mobile phones and videos with parts of the world that would never previously have been accessible, they do so in English. The studies of another country’s history, the nuances of its language and other cultural traditions get lost and the communication can only be deemed as somewhat superficial.

Surely, in a world where it is becoming increasingly necessary to understand and communicate on a global scale, the Minister of Education has a duty to ensure that the British do not become closed minded and arrogant of the English language. By learning another language, or if not that, through providing a form of cultural studies, students will have their minds opened to the consideration of other ways of living, other ways of educating, other forms of political systems whilst also learning and questioning the development of Britian, its position within the world and the relation of its own languages to this.  Furthermore, through the study of language students gain an understanding of grammar formations crucial to their own language which they can carry through all of their subjects and correspondence.

It would be through reintroducing a study of foreign language that we could create a more diverse and open society appreciative of other cultures and able to converse not just on a language level, but with a level of cultural awareness and appreciation.

If you’re struggling with your French GCSE don’t give up! Try our Revision Buddies self assessment revision app for FREE which aims to help you consolidate your learning for your GCSEs – we cover both Foundation French and Higher French across all exam board syllabuses. 

Look out for some new features coming very soon including past papers and iPad compatibility!

Improvement of grading system is not just about quitting the modular exam system

Today the High Court has not accepted a bid from school leaders, teachers’ unions and councils to change grade boundaries in last summer’s GCSE English exams. What is Gove’s solution? “Make Labour politicians apologise for introducing modular GCSEs.” Yes Gove, that’ll do it.

 

Whilst getting rid of modular GCSEs will evade further repercussions of  these discrepancies in grade boundaries, I don’t believe that it will solve the problem that employers and universities face when trying to sort the wheat from the chaff.

 

I got good GCSEs, so did quite a few of my friends. Being the youngest of 5 (with only 2 of us doing GCSEs) the immediate response was. “Well, they get easier every year, don’t they?” Whilst being affronted at the time, it was a saying that I adopted in subsequent years when, goodness gracious, didn’t the country’s 16 year olds get so much cleverer under Labour?

 

Let’s face it, the exams did get easier, or if not easier, the opportunity to get a good grade got greater.  So when it comes to grades, modules or no modules, why has no one suggested a different way of grading the exams themselves? Why not introduce a points system – completely transparent, whereby the A* scraper can be seen from the A* acer? Or, why not rank the grades by the top percentage levels? Only 10% of people are able to score above a certain amount to get an A*, followed by the next 15% able to get an A, the next 15% to get a B and so on. Therefore the exams can never get easier, it is purely weighted on the highest achievers of that year, not on a difficult paper or a badly assessed scoring system nor by a political party trying to hammer home how brilliant they are at ‘Education, Education, Education…’

 

Whilst Gove is right in criticising Labour for the introduction of modular GCSEs, he still has a long way to go in delivering a policy that will produce a grading system that fairly applies high and low grades to those that they are due.

Where will Gove take the new GCSEs?

So, today Gove took a step back from his reform of GCSEs and shelved the ECBs that were announced in September 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/feb/07/gove-gcse-reforms-from-2015 . Everyone seems to be in agreement of one thing; that GCSEs are failing British youth and leaving a generation losing out to global competition, but no one seems to be able to agree as to how we can improve the system. Gove was criticised for trying to introduce a system that would neglect those within the education system that are less academic. The necessity for an all-round assessment is vital, but it seems that the Government is missing some crucial factors when considering their reforms.

GCSEs are to set up students for life, whether they be going on to further education, wanting to get an apprenticeship or going straight into employment. However, it seems that they do not necessarily provide the all-round skills that would be required by, for example, a first time employer. Modular exams that can be sat repeatedly do not reflect the capabilities needed and expected of someone in the work place. An employer needs to know that their employee has been educated and tested to produce good quality work within a timeframe, they do not expect, nor have the patience, for an employee that fails to do tasks to a certain standard within required deadlines.  Consistent, modular resits are therefore not reflective of the real world, nor are exams and course work that are just reliant on the written word. Whilst Gove recognises the failure in repeated re-sits and is keen to push for a return for final exams to occur at the end of the second year of the GCSE course, he neglects to consider other forms of assessment that would provide a more all-round evaluation of a student’s progress.

It seems odd that no one considers a verbal assessment to be part the British education system. Within Europe it is common to have a verbal exam as part of the assessment of a student’s progress. This not only allows for a more comprehensive examining process and provides those less able to express themselves on paper with an opportunity to present their oral skills, but also provides a chance for every single person to gain practice in interview technique that will undoubtedly be used throughout life.

So whilst the Government continues to question how to regenerate a failing exam system with debates over examining bodies and curriculum criteria, should it not also consider other options of assessment aside from the traditional written word? Today’s announcement showed that Gove is prepared to listen to the British education bodies and won’t force through any radical change without due consideration, we look forward to seeing his progress.

How did they go?

Hi everyone, how did the exams go? Last of the history was yesterday – Phew! Did you find our apps helpful?

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to school everyone and wishing you all the best in your mocks! We hope that you had a very happy Christmas and a merry New Year and that you are finding our apps helpful for your revision!

GCSE Religious Studies is now available

Revision Buddies is delighted to announce that our latest app, Religious Studies is now available on the iPhone App Store.

This is our last offering of 2012 but stay tuned for plenty more in the New Year when we’ll be releasing further subjects as well as porting to other phones and tablets. We also have some great new features in the pipeline so look out for the updates.

Good luck to all those doing GCSE mocks in January and a very merry Christmas to all.

Are you ready for Revision Buddies?!

We’re officially launching next week once one more of our Iphone apps gets approved. We’ll keep you posted!

Apple approval!

The Revision Buddies App has now been approved by Apple, so expect to see us in the Apple App Store by the end of November!

The great mobile technology leap forward | Technology | The Observer

The great mobile technology leap forward | Technology | The Observer.

GCSE results and GCSEs | Education | The Guardian

GCSE results and GCSEs | Education | The Guardian.