In the ‘BBC NEWS’ this week end there was an article about students from Wales failing to get into the two oldest universities in the English speaking world. I will now say from the outset that I am not employed in any way in the educational world. I do have a daughter half way through the GCSE two year course. In the past year there has been instances that have come to mind to maybe explain this phenomenon. And I am not blaming the teachers but the WGEC, Our students are no longer taught to understand a subject but to pass the exam. My daughters head of English offered the top set a quick course in Shakespeare, not to learn the bards prose or to study his works with loving caress, but to answer the questions that will come up in the exam.
Of course four hours a week are set aside to learn Welsh, which every GCSE student has to study. And then there is the Welsh Baccalaureate , another four hours in which we still have no idea what is being taught, it has become the lesson to do homework. The teachers in local schools will happily talk about the overloaded work schedule they have and how they are pushed by the management of the schools to ensure that their students PASS the exams. It is now I believe, that a score of 37% in mathematics will gain you a C grade.
Our children are being let down by the welsh Government in its drive to tick boxes in a check list that only they care about. We have a banding system a total of 5 bands. But here is the clincher there are only a set number of places in each band. So if every school scores exactly the same we still have a top school and a bottom placed school. If the catchment area is from a poorer area and a greater percentage of students are eligible for free school dinners, then don’t even bother looking at the top band, never mind about the quality of teaching, learning or understanding. Back to my main point. The Welsh Government in it ceaseless aim to be different from English Government seems to be doing so at the detriment of our children.
So are these OxBridge hubs going to achieve what they are being set out to do? Only time will tell but Oxford and Cambridge are the best universities in the World and will only take the best students in the world. Why should they be forced to take substandard students because of pressure from less than 5% of the UK population is shouting ‘me too’.