28 Jun 2007 • 2,090 views
Reading for pleasure
I took this picture a while ago "to see if I could", it's an old book printed on thick rough paper. The glasses are a pince-nez, possibly made around 1900. Anyhow, I thought the picture was right for today which is when our oldest child takes his last school exam, ever.
On their way through the English school system (Scotland and Wales are different) children are tested many times. 'National' tests, SATs, which are externally marked, are taken under exam conditions in the classroom. The idea is that these assessments are child-friendly, relaxed and non-stressful. Nothing much seems to happen afterwards, there are no embossed certificates just a print out of results which show the child in relation to the peer group, which can be demoralising for low achievers and fairly meaningless for high achievers.
Tests are in core subjects:-
at age 5 - during the first term at school, informally, by teacher observation, to set a baseline level;
at age 8 - to test progress in Maths and English;
at age 11 - to assess attainment in Maths English and Science.
At age 11 they move into the secondary sector, going to a local comprehensive school that may be called an Academy, a Sports/Drama/Science and Technology/Language College depending on specialism. The type of school a child attends depends on the school's geographical catchment area, unless parents opt to pay for private schooling.
At age 13 there is further national testing again in Maths English and Science.
Once these tests are over the children begin the two-year courses for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) or equivalent. The courses involve written 'coursework' (assignments) as well as examination assessment, sometimes in modules throughout the course but all with final exams in the summer at age 16. These exams mark the end of statutory education provision, the rest is optional.
They either attend a school for the sixth form, if there is the facility, or move onto a Sixth Form College or College of Further Education where they study for their A-levels, or equivalent, assessment for these is split over the two years and they take their final exams at age 18.
The first year they study four subjects, submit coursework and are examined at the end of the year at "AS-level".
The second year they study three subjects and are examined at the end of the year at A2-level. In reality many will re-sit some of their AS exams as well, hoping to achieve a slightly higher mark and so a higher terminal grade, which will decide their university place.
So, we've reached the end of this phase for the first time, the next is University to study for a Bachelor's Degree, but I'm not even thinking about that just yet, since the introduction of tuition fees it's become a very expensive three years.
Time to relax
Moorish Castle, ...