"A level" day........

  Diemmess 18:06 17 Aug 2006

Anyone remember Higher School Certificates?

In a very ordinary Grammar School in Shropshire we sat the Northern Universities Joint Matriculation Board exams.
N.U.J.M.B. comprised Manchester Liverpool Sheffield Leeds and Birmingham.
Over that area they were the only universities.
Other seats of learning were merely Technical and Polytechnic colleges.

Only universities could grant Degrees and they were in traditional subjects.

A generation later, UCAS or whatever it was called then, listed among other wonders the Psychology of Japonese Flower Arranging.

Times change!

  Forum Editor 18:12 17 Aug 2006

I also attended one of the old-style grammar schools, but we sat 'A' levels set by Cambridge University examining board.

Happy days.

  oresome 18:33 17 Aug 2006

I don't wish to knock the students who have just received their results, but I don't see the value of an exam where almost everyone passes.

If educational standards have improved to this extent over the years, I feel we should raise the examination difficulty to match.

Yes, it is disheartening to fail an exam, but that's life. There are winners and losers and the purpose of an exam should be to grade the participants against their peers as much as reaching a particular level of understanding achievable by almost all.


I'm speaking as one who failed the 11 plus and achieved 2 O'Levels, so you might think I'm bitter and twisted.

  wiz-king 19:19 17 Aug 2006

why cant I get staff to run my machines, I would like a couple of youngsters who can use the things at the ends of their arms together with their head filling to run and do minor repairs to my machines.
Oh for a return of Technical schools!

Oh.. I forgot machine work is not an 'ology so does not count any more.

  sirreaoscar 19:27 17 Aug 2006

Bloody ard they was in my day, these children taken them today do not know how lucky they are.

But looking on the bright side a lot more difficult to get to Uni these days!

  Diemmess 20:06 17 Aug 2006

I know this sounds like the "still had change from half a farthing" school, but everything is so different now .... Coursework, modules, etc.

None of those then. Just a written paper/papers and for HSC Physics, I could take log tables (which I never understood) or a SLIDE RULE into the exam room. Wow there was hi-tech!

  wee eddie 23:09 17 Aug 2006

The trouble is that the system is designed to recognise attendance rather than knowledge, and does not does not really differentiate between the merely pedestrian and those that have succeeded.

It's the marking that's at fault.

  wee eddie 23:21 17 Aug 2006

We should not blame them for the failures of the Politicians that we voted into Office.

It is the Politicians who have changed the system of exam setting and marking.

If you are not rewarded for writing in good clear English. Why bother.

If you are not penalised for for entering a project that is banal and full of plagiarisms. Why not copy it wholesale from the net or wherever. If the invigilator is to dumb or overworked to notice this. Why bother.

We are failing the brighter kids and not helping the dumber ones either.

p.s. I failed all my A levels and never made Uni, but I have had a great life so far and the best may be yet to come.

  Colin 10:19 18 Aug 2006

This is going away from Diemmess's point about the change in educational qualifications, but here goes.
It's not just government, that's any government, that has let our children down, but we should all take responsibility for the level of academic achievement and ability of our children. By not insisting that the 3 R’s are essential before going on to learn anything, many students are left floundering. How can someone leave school unable to express themselves properly or not even have a basic understanding of arithmetic and yet they achieve passes at A level? If I believed in conspiracy theories, I would think that people are deliberately being poorly educated so that they can be manipulated easily – but that’s another story!

  dms05 16:45 18 Aug 2006

I'd always assumed I was the oldest computer literate guy in the Universe but some of you are talking about qualifications that came even before my time!

It's all true about 'A' levels been easier. When I went off to Uni in 1962 only 3% of 18 year olds gained admittance. Today it's 10 times that number with 75% of then going to Uni's that didn't exist then. So standards have to be lower for 72% of those entering Uni (I'm assuming the top 3% are just as bright as they were 40+ years ago).

I applaude educating as many people as you can to as high a standard as they are capable. But to fiddle the exam system devalues the whole exercise and the qualification gained. That's why in the USA a first degree is of little value, you have to gain a PhD to be considered unusual. Maybe the same now applies in the UK?

  ventanas 16:54 18 Aug 2006

As an example, when my daughter was studying for her maths gcse she was having problems with the factors for quadratic equations, so I showed her how to transpose the structure of a quadratic so it formed a formula through which the equation should be solved. Her teacher was not very happy when she tried to use this in class, even though its much easier, and more thorough than messing about with factors. He wrote to me saying that I should not instruct his GCSE pupils in what is A-level maths, as it only causes confusion. Somewhat incensed I replied that in my day we learned this sort of thing when we were 14 years old, and it was part of the O-level course, and that I had nothing but envy for him, as it was so obvious that he job had become so much simpler over the years.

So what was quite basic O-level is now part of A-level. They must be so simple now. I would like to put the A-level maths papers I took back in 1966 in front of some of todays students, just out of curiosity.

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