I can see some value in Michael Gove’s plans to replace GCSEs, but there are a number of issues he has still to address, not least the setting and marking of examination questions.
Looking back a number of years, pupils embarking on their GCSE journey in September faced public examinations as soon as November, with up to eight sittings over two years, nine for those scientists beginning their courses early, and with FCSEs preceding GCSEs, stress became a major concern from as early as 14 years old.
The re-sit culture became embedded and whilst strategic re-sitting clearly improves grades, it also punctures teaching time and is not the best preparation for life after school.
Adult life offers few, if any, re-sit opportunities and joined-up learning can be lost as inextricably interwoven strands are broken down into unrealistic bite-sized chunks.
With a switch of emphasis to a linear approach, I look forward to pupils once again having the time to read books, research and debate ideas just because they can.
It seems that apart from a brave few, acceptable risk-taking forms only a small part of the pupil DNA. Instead, what is foremost in the mind is stability and security, with the majority of young people understandably craving a formulaic and uncontroversial lifestyle; fewer dare to take risks.
To identify the cause of such conservatism is clearly complex, but the sprint from one module to the next, often only a few months apart, has provided little time for thinking outside the box.
If I recall my own school days, O levels and A levels were examined after two years of study and a typical degree after three years of study and along the way teachers and lecturers encouraged free and abstract thinking.
Learning was less goal driven, and my fear today, which is compounded by the economic crisis, is that choosing subjects has become similar to decisions we take in the supermarket and high street every day.
Learning need not have a point and should not be quantified in pounds and pence. It should not be a punitive action, nor solely a means to an end, but should be lifelong, enriching and good fun.
Education has undergone significant and often unsettling change in recent years, some of it planned, but much of it unexpected.
The banking crisis and economic downturn, uncertainty in the eurozone, the advent of university admission fees, the new A* grade at A level, the growth of academies and free schools and alleged shifting of the goal posts in marking and university offers have all encouraged us to consider GCSE, A level and degree choices in monetary terms; this I fully understand, but am saddened nevertheless.
Turning to plans to scrap controlled assessment, this relatively new initiative has not been without its problems.
Essentially, controlled assessment has replaced coursework, shifting the workload from home to supervised work in the classroom, all under examination conditions.