Ofqual are proposing to remove the speaking and listening element from the final result of future English GCSEs on the premise that it will make a fairer system. According to them, last year’s historic cock up, where 45,000 students had their grades changed, was due to the current inclusion of speaking and listening into the overall grade. Was it not more to do with the fact that they changed the grade boundaries half way through the year?
What seems amazing is that they believe that by removing the speaking and listening element, they are creating a ‘fairer’ system. Fairer for who? If this proposed system is implemented, it will enable those who are good at reading and writing to get even better grades than in the current system and those that find this part of the exam tougher, at a bigger loss. And anyway, how can anyone consider that any GCSE, let alone English, assesses students properly if it only marks the reading and writing abilities of an individual? How can these exams prepare people for life if they exclude half of the communication process? People need to have speaking and listening integrated into subject syllabus criteria in order to prepare them for job interviews, to help them to articulate themselves and to make sure that they can listen and respond effectively when dealing with people and problems face to face.
Whilst Ofqual seem to be of the thinking that ‘teachers will not need to change the way that they teach’ it can only be seen as inevitable that this element of education will disappear owing to current pressures to achieve in league tables and exam results. If speaking and listening is removed from the overall grade of GCSEs, the result which is deemed the most important to league tables and students alike, it will quickly become a neglected part of the education system. This can be seen with the decline of grammar within the UK in recent times. A generation of students did not have their written grammar counted towards their final grades and as a result teachers stopped teaching it, and consequentially we have a generation of people that don’t know their nouns from their verbs nor their subjects from their objects.
Whilst it is clear that there is concern with the in-house marking of the speaking and listening elements of the exam, there needs to be another solution which will not leave a future generations of students deprived of this invaluable form of communication which will prepare them for life.
Read more about Ofqual’s proposals here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22292779
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