E.J.Wilkins

28 Jun 2007 2,041 views
 
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photoblog image Reading for pleasure

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.

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.

comments (29)

Whew! My youngest just graduated university this spring so it's finally over for me. It will end for you some day too.
EJWilkins: Whew ... my words exactly earlier this evening smile
Next year we have another set of GCSE exams ...
Congratulations on guiding your son to this milestone.

Gorgeous image. I'm adding it to my likeys. It's so appealing, right down to the words that are highlighted in the lens. A few seem especially applicable to your post: triumph, justify, proudly.
EJWilkins: I had absolutely no idea of the words I'd highlighted, I didn't think to look at them .. isn't that a bit daft? So, I'm absolutely delighted you like it so much. Thanks smile
  • Suby
  • MK
  • 28 Jun 2007, 00:57
And I have not even had me 1st kid, you trying to scare me :d

Suby
EJWilkins: Nope, go for it, and enjoy any children you may have. They're a delight, and worth every bit smile
It is funny that every country has a completely different educational system, but we end up learning something despite our teachers, not because of them. Good luck to your son!
EJWilkins: It would be good if it were always true Martin, too many children are failing despite all the assessment and testing, the figures are quite alarming. But, we're lucky, our children enjoy school and have done as well as they possibly can ... so far smile
  • Karen
  • 28 Jun 2007, 01:43
I had only a sketchy understanding of the English school system, so I'm glad you've explained it in such detail. In Canada, education differs slightly from province to province. In the past few years, Ontario has moved more towards an English system, with standardized tests at age 8 and 11, and several more in secondary school. I like Martin's comment about how we all end up learning something.

And, by the way, the photo is very good too. smile
EJWilkins: Don't be too pleased I've explained it, they'll change it all again soon ... they're threatening to alter the 16+ assessments, again! It's too complicated for most people, and too 'testing' for the children. In some cases it leads to complacency when the assessing is important such as the GCSE and A-level. There are too many disaffected youngsters, although our children aren't in that group, fortunately they enjoy learning.
  • Kay
  • 28 Jun 2007, 03:12
Lovely picture, Ellie (books are one of my favorite things). I had no idea what the English school system was all about until now. Sounds like serious but excellent education. Unfortunately, it's not like that in the U.S.
EJWilkins: Errm, it sounds excellent, but from what I read we seem to be mirroring the US and far too many young people are acquiring only the minimum of basic skills during their time at school. Something doesn't seem to be working properly. We're lucky though, our children are eager and enthusiastic and also quite smart.
  • alex
  • 28 Jun 2007, 05:23
definitely a big winner here, ellie. this pic is fabulous. love the focus, REALLY love how the glasses magnify the text underneath. it's a likey.
EJWilkins: Gosh, thanks Alex smile
An excellent shot !! Congrats on the end of a phase.
EJWilkins: Thank you Shakara smile
  • paul
  • 28 Jun 2007, 09:21
Our middle one had her last exam yesterday. We've already got one at university and now another is heading off there in the autumn - think I need a second job!

it is a great picture Ellie
EJWilkins: And now we wait, and they wait too, till August. He said it was strange to come out of today's exam and realise there was no more revision, and no more exams, and no more school. He also wishes he'd taken Physics! wink
This is an excellent image Ellie...and is in my likeys. Many congrats and best wishes!
EJWilkins: Gosh, thanks smile
Well, Ellie - champagne on ice? (;o)

`triumph`, `question`, `justify`, `proudly`! A photograph which embodies a `testing` time all round. (:o)
EJWilkins: I didn't give a moment's thought to the words under the glasses, was more bothered about getting the book to stay properly open. Serendipity eh? here's hoping wink
Like the feel of this picture. It makes me think of the words papyrus, scrolls, and wisdom. Don't ask...smile
EJWilkins: Oooh, now that's a nice thought, it goes with the ancient subjects he's been studying smile
  • nev
  • Australia
  • 28 Jun 2007, 11:35
i think once you have them all out in the workforce you can splurge on a new pair of glasses ellie. smile hope all the tests went well and good luck child o ellie in your upcoming endeavours. lovely academic shot ellie.
EJWilkins: grin I think I need the new glasses right now! Now we have to wait for the results, some time in August
  • Ginnie
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 28 Jun 2007, 11:42
I particularly like "she stepped proudly!" How in the world did you find that! So perfect for this accomplishment for YOU, let alone him. All we parents delight in these milestones and breathe a sigh of relief when they're reached.

Hip-Hip-Hurray for today! For your son and for you, Ellie, and this most appropriate pic!
EJWilkins: I didn't find it, pure chance! I hadn't really looked at the words until you and Ros pointed them out. We did a little hip hooray this evening though smile
  • Mal
  • 28 Jun 2007, 12:10
very lovely image El, one of those images that i've been meaning to have a go at but never got round to it, love the old glasses. mal
EJWilkins: The glasses were in with a box of coins and books we got at a boot sale, didn't realise they were there till we got home. They're quite nice, but I wouldn't like to try to wear them.
I bet if you did something like this it would be astonishingly good smile
For me this photo evokes an old world charm, making it quite a classic! very nice!
UK education system seems to make it more stressed for the child!
EJWilkins: Thank you Sanchita smile
You're right, the whole system is quite stressful, and not always pleasant especially for those who are less academic. We're quite lucky on that front though, thank goodness.
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 28 Jun 2007, 14:19
I always tell my children (3 through and one to go) that it is not the last day until we have the results. smile

The best to you and D. And be patient with him, whichever way he chooses to celebrate this evening. He has good parents so whatever - it won't be too bad tongue hopefully.

Your picture is very fitting. Excellent for all the good reasons. One very similar to this won a competition with a local rag recently.

One thing I don't understand - was study for free in the UK before introduction of tuition fees. If so, you were very lucky in the past. The one I have at university is keeping my wallet lightweight.

What about D come and study here - with the sterling exchange rate it may be more affordable. He can stay with us, then I can charge you guys boarding and afford mine at university grin
EJWilkins: It used to be funded from taxation, it still is, but the taxes are used elsewhere! Unfortunately those of us with children in the system haven't had the chance to prepare for the fees, which are astonishingly high, and rising. But, today we relax and wonder about the future, we'll worry about the results when they come, and hope they're high enough to get the place he wants. An intriguing offer, but I think he'll probably decline wink
  • Ray
  • The BIG Chilli
  • 28 Jun 2007, 14:35
Well...you can!
I have seen several pics like this, but yours is a stand-out, and I think a lot of it goes to your choice of specs. Great pic, Ellie.
EJWilkins: Looks like it, doesn't it? I wasn't altogether sure I'd got it right. Thank you Ray smile
this is an excellent picture...im just going through the process of choosing a university myself...
EJWilkins: Where do you think you'll be going? Email separately wink
We've got all this ahead of us Ellie...
EJWilkins: You'll sail through it smile
Grat picture Ellie. Really great. It's an invitation to read books and rest and dream and... smile
EJWilkins: That's a bit how I feel when I look at this too, thanks Florence smile
Really interestin picture Ellie. Like this one a lot.
EJWilkins: Thanks Chris, glad you do smile
Nice scholarly shot. Hope you son does well. All the best, Dave
EJWilkins: Oh goodness, so do we. He certainly deserves to, but the subjects are quite tough ones so ... we'll see. He gave his best shot smile
Lovely image Ellie. I wondered where I had put my glasses. Nice DOF treatment. They look just about the most uncomfortable things to wear. I'm glad I've a pair of ears to hang mine from.
I'm glad to say both of mine have done the University slog - daughter is actually a teacher. Now it's grandchildren starting the education process. Hope all goes well. David.
EJWilkins: They look incredibly uncomfortable don't they? I read that they were like this to be 'discrete'!
Thanks for the good wishes, we now wait ...
This is a superb shot - very simple, very effective. My son has just graduated from Manchester with a degree in Economics, so I am a little ahead of you. Hope you both enjoy the summer. Don't relax too much, it doesn't get easier! Mike
EJWilkins: We are going to relax this summer, because next year we've another set of GCSEs to do! Many congratulations to your son, it's a fine degree smile
Our youngest is very interested in Economics and an excellent mathematician as well.
Very nice - simple, in a good way - love the way the text underneath the glasses is in focus smile
Very well done, I love this one : Bravo !!
  • _Monika_
  • rainy London
  • 30 Jun 2007, 15:29
Lovely detail, great composition! I think you can sell this picture to some academic / literature / education magazine for front cover! smile
Nos has explicado con gran detalle el plan de estudios ingles... cada paĂ­s tiene el suyo y seguramente todos son mejorables. Es una lĂĄstima que no exista un modelo Ășnico comunitario, por ejemplo. Eso asegurarĂ­a la igualdad de formaciĂłn de todos los muchachos europeos. En fin, quizĂĄs lleguemos algĂșn dĂ­a a un modelo "perfecto". Espero que tĂș hijo alcance los mejores objetivos en sus exĂĄmenes. Por otra parte decir que la fotografĂ­a que has hecho para ilustrar esto me parece simplemente genial. "Likey"

You have explained us with great detail the curriculum ingles... each country has his and surely all are mejorables. It is a pity that does not exist a communitarian unique model, for example. That would assure the equality formation of all the European boys. Perhaps in short, we arrive someday at "a perfect" model. I hope that you son reaches the best objectives in his examinations. On the other hand to say that the photography that you have made to illustrate this simply seems to me brilliant. "Likey"

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