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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 February 2018

GCSE grading game stresses out students - even more than before!

The new GCSE requirements turn learning into a memory test, photo by UBC Learning Commons/CC

The new GCSE requirements turn learning into a memory test, photo by UBC Learning Commons/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Adam Abdullah, school student

The government has implemented new GCSE rules and with them stress, and with them fear, and with them anxiety.

Since the regular GCSE grading system of A*-G was replaced with the 9-1 grades, levels of stress, anxiety and mental disorders have increased among young people in schools.

What is the issue of replacing the letters with numbers? The GCSE 'specs' - the exam rules, the amount we have to 'learn' and level of homework - that come with it.

Coursework has entirely been removed from GCSEs. And with the exception of one or two speaking and listening tests it's mostly written examinations now.

Even drama, a subject about getting on your feet and expressing your creative freedom, is now 40% written examination with exam board Edexcel.

This is so with all the subjects, written examination has taken over. For example, for triple science - physics, biology, chemistry - you have to take nine exams where three are for each of the sciences. They teach the different modules in the order of the exams and it seems more and more like it's meant to test our memory functions rather than intelligence.

What are we to the examiners, goldfish?

Under the old GCSE spec teachers used to be able to allow students to sit the exams at different points (for example, if you had three exams for one subject you could do one in Year 10). So I've calculated I have 20 or more exams to do in one academic year...

Even if you'd count yourself as 'strict' you can see how this is going to impact us. As the exam boards only have one set of results to compare us to, one horrible thing that has happened is that on the OCR board maths exams only 27% earned a 'standard' passing grade (grade 4) or higher. The best percentage - AQA exam board - was only 32%.

In English literature you're expected to have a memory good enough to remember quotes from 15 poems, novels, contextual information for all those poems, and not go blank under that pressure...

Across all the exam boards last year only 33% to 50% achieved a grade 4 or above in English language. This is a recurring theme now.

It has gone so far a student created a petition to parliament that has over 160,000 signatures. This is 60,000 above the required number for parliament to discuss having a debate and they will now announce the date soon.

The recurring theme of pass rates going down, the 'worst' schools being shown in league tables, rising mental health issues, austerity cuts to schools and academisation all show that we are indeed in crisis.

However, we can escape. Freedom from pressure, elimination of memory tests and a wholesome education not revolving around examination is not only what we want, but what we need.

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In The Socialist 7 February 2018:


Save our NHS

NHS - build the fightback

NHS day of action: all around the country

Tragic death exposes criminal understaffing of NHS

York socialists head resistance to NHS outsourcing

Trump v NHS


News

Capita in crisis: bring all outsourcers back in-house

90 feared dead after migrant boat capsizes


What we think

Corbyn's left must seize the advantage in Labour's civil war


Councils

Haringey: now's our chance for a no-cuts council

Walthamstow: occupy to save the town square

Scene set for TUSC conference electoral debate


Workplace

Royal Mail forced back under threat of action

Unison national women's conference

Striking back against academies in Newham


International socialist news and analysis

May's silence is a green light for Chinese repression

Sudan: Mohamed Satti released - global solidarity campaign gets results!

Protesters denounce oppressive Sri Lankan regime


Opinion

GCSE grading game stresses out students - even more than before!

Fighting sexism: Positive discrimination - yea or neigh?

Bernie's book shows need for workers' party

Darkest Hour: Not the usual flattery of brutal Tory Churchill

The Socialist inbox


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

The Socialist Party is being evicted - we need you!

Yorkshire Socialist Party regional conference


 

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