I don’t like to shatter children’s dreams but I do have a responsibility to give them the truth. I asked my GCSE class: “If you trained harder than Usain Bolt, could you be as fast as him?” 90% of the class thought it possible. When asked again at the end, only two hands went up – I gave them detentions for failing to pay attention. And yet as a society we believe that if we raise our expectations and work ethic we can make the next generation smarter? The education minister is making GCSE’s harder in an attempt to make Britain’s young sparks brighter.
GCSE’s are to be made more difficult with the inclusion of questions normally reserved for older students. This will supposedly ‘stretch’ students to reach their full potential, as apparently there is too large a proportion achieving A’s and A*’s. As per usual in politics, on paper it looks good but it’s not so simple in reality. Creating more opportunities for our most gifted students is great but asking all students to reach those heights is unrealistic and may put unnecessary stress on other students. Students do not struggle with exams because they are too easy. Race, gender and other socio-economic factors certainly have not been taken into account in the making of this decision.
I suggest that GCSEs be kept as they are but that more difficult papers be made available for those who are more able. You wouldn’t set an Olympic sprinter against an amateur after all! You create an opportunity for novices to succeed and nurture their sense of achievement and then stage an elite race for those who will one day compete against the best in the world.