Exam reform and more: education secretary Justine Greening Q&A: post your questions!

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Four things that unis think matter more than league tables 08-12-2016
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    When will the students be debt free?
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    (Original post by Topu)
    When will the students be debt free?
    The government has put a clause in the student loan contract that allow s them to change the terms as they go along. So they could decide to extend the loan to 40 or 50 years, and possibly end the debt when you collect your pension (probably at 80?). Or they increase the interest, or they could sell the loan book to Goldman Sachs, and we know how they look after their clients
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    How does the right honourable Secretary Greenings feel about being the first non-Oxonian Education Secretary since the revival of the position in 2010?
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    I would like to ask Justine whether she thinks that there is a North vs South divide in the choices of schools in this country, i.e. are pupils living in rural areas less likely to get an adequate education due to a lack of good schools being located in ther local area?
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    With the reformation of A Levels and GCSEs, do you not find it unfair to those students that are sitting half and half? For example, I'm currently sitting two reformed A Level subjects (one of which includes content my teachers haven't covered since their university years quite a while ago!) and one unreformed subject. This means that while there are plenty of resources for the latter subject, there's very little in the way of the former subjects, especially with the addition of new content that's not normally seen until taken as a degree. This also enables students to be gaining higher grades in the unreformed subjects than the reformed subjects, impacting their choices for university, whereas if on the old specification, they would be achieving the grades they want for their dream university. I completely understand that the A Levels do need reformed but having an A* in the old spec is easier than getting a B in the new spec as there is so much more content, especially as you are being tested on two years worth of content rather than one which, in my eyes, is seen as quite unfair!

    Also, with the plans for grammar schools, how would you ensure that people that deserve to get into grammar schools will get in? There's plenty of people that might have an off day on the day of the exam, if that were to happen, would there be an allowance of places for those who should deserve a place and missed the cut of they were to get a reference and hand in some evidence and as classwork to prove that they could do well?

    Why are teachers paid by results? If a class were to underperform during an exam due to a bad paper or a disturbance would this not have an impact on pay? Teachers dedicate so much time and go out of their way to help students, especially those willing to come back after school or during free periods to ask for extra help, should pay then not be based on a standardised rate as all it is influencing is how many past papers teachers give you and how much they focus on exam technique rather than content or expanding knowledge because they know they aren't going to get the pay they deserve if their classes don't do well.

    How are you going to go about standardising PSHCE in order to make it more inclusive to teenagers, including sufficient sex ed, aimed at all sexualities, not just those students that identify as heterosexual with the slight mention of gay sex generally added as an afterthought? Also, would this include information about looking after your mental health as so many students seem to have some sort of mental health issue for any number of reasons, if that support was offered, do you think that this would make a bigger difference and reduce the stigma around mental health?

    Why are reforming A Levels to be linear when do many universities have modular exams? A Levels are meant to be a stepping stone to university, yet all they teach us is how to remember absurd amounts of knowledge and not actually apply that knowledge to real life situations. Currently, many exams are just memory tests rather than applications of knowledge from the course, which does not test a student's understanding of the content but rather their ability to remember information and write it down. Modular exams means that only a specific section of content needs to be known rather than the full course, and I'm all honesty, trying to remember two years worth of content is quite a difficult feat and not at all something that most A Level students need to be dealing with, especially under the stress of trying to perform their very best in order to get into their firm choice university.
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    (Original post by LoveTheDivergent)
    With the reformation of A Levels and GCSEs, do you not find it unfair to those students that are sitting half and half? For example, I'm currently sitting two reformed A Level subjects (one of which includes content my teachers haven't covered since their university years quite a while ago!) and one unreformed subject. This means that while there are plenty of resources for the latter subject, there's very little in the way of the former subjects, especially with the addition of new content that's not normally seen until taken as a degree. This also enables students to be gaining higher grades in the unreformed subjects than the reformed subjects, impacting their choices for university, whereas if on the old specification, they would be achieving the grades they want for their dream university. I completely understand that the A Levels do need reformed but having an A* in the old spec is easier than getting a B in the new spec as there is so much more content, especially as you are being tested on two years worth of content rather than one which, in my eyes, is seen as quite unfair!

    Why are reforming A Levels to be linear when do many universities have modular exams? A Levels are meant to be a stepping stone to university, yet all they teach us is how to remember absurd amounts of knowledge and not actually apply that knowledge to real life situations. Currently, many exams are just memory tests rather than applications of knowledge from the course, which does not test a student's understanding of the content but rather their ability to remember information and write it down. Modular exams means that only a specific section of content needs to be known rather than the full course, and I'm all honesty, trying to remember two years worth of content is quite a difficult feat and not at all something that most A Level students need to be dealing with, especially under the stress of trying to perform their very best in order to get into their firm choice university.
    The content has barely changed. It's the fact that we have to do it after the 2 years which doesn't seem unfair at all. It's like GCSEs but less subjects and more in depth and if you manage your time well and revise productively then it won't go wrong. You can use old past papers etc because the content is still 98% the same probably more than that.

    Tbh I think it's good that it's at the end of two years although I prefer the old system much better.
    And also if you can't handle the pressure then you won't be able to handle university (this depends on the uni and sometimes subject).

    Honestly don't think it's as bad as people are saying!


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    1. Following on from the lack lustre approach of Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan to education in Britain, how do you plan to restore the faith to parents and students alike that Theresa May's One Nation Conservative government actually realises the importance of investing in today's youth in order to secure tomorrow's prosperity?

    2. Having just completed GCSE exams myself, is it truly beneficial to, from next year, grade students on a 9-1 scale that nobody can actually relate to? And is it fair on them for a 9 to be inevitably regarded as equivalent to an A* by employers when it is more difficult to achieve?

    3. Do you accept that Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan were in the wrong for their flawed reforms to primary education? Are you going to take primary education back to its roots as an engine of development for young children while providing them with the basis on which to build their futures? Or will you continue like your predecessors to replace young curiosity and desire to learn with a regimented drilling of key facts and numbers?

    While I appreciate the need for high standards of education in Britain for the global stage, it should not be to the detriment of those it actually affects... the students.

    Thank you
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    will she reduce or get rid of university fees as these are a major issue.
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    Do you believe that it is wrong that teachers focus on getting all students to an C grade from a D grade at the expense of students trying to get from B to A?
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    Why were AS and A2 levels decoupled?
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    School are under incredible pressure from the government to increase grades. Schools can be put in Special Measures if their A*-C rates are not good enough.
    Exam boards are under incredible pressure from the government not to have 'Grade Inflation' so grade boundaries have moved up and A*-C rates are falling.
    As Minister for Education how can you possibly promote two completely opposite aims at the same time, and then be surprised and disappointed when both targets are not met?
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    (Original post by DamnDaniel2)
    And also if you can't handle the pressure then you won't be able to handle university (this depends on the uni and sometimes subject).


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    Most degree courses are much more like the previous A/S and A2 syllabus. They have exams in the second and third year which both count towards the final award, and coursework dissertations. I can't think of any other occasions in my life when I have been asked to show two years worth of learning in two 90 minute papers.
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    Can I ask a question about equality? She is also Minister for Equalities
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    (Original post by shooks)
    On 8 November, TSR has been invited to Westminster to film an interview with Justine Greening, secretary of state for education.

    In her role, Greening heads up the Department of Education, having the final say on policy covering every stage of the school system, colleges, universities, apprenticeships, A-level/GCSE reform and more.

    We're just going to need two things:

    - Some questions to ask
    - Someone to ask them

    And you can help with both.

    Post your questions for Justine Greening below - we're going to take all of them with us to the interview and will ask as many as we have time for.

    Plus, if you choose to post your question as a video clip, you'll go in the hat to join the TSR community team on the trip to Westminster. Not only that, you will get to host the interview, asking all the questions to the education secretary on camera.

    We'll judge all the videos submitted and choose one person to come along on the day.

    Wondering what to ask? Here are a few facts about Justine Greening to get you started:
    - She is the first education secretary to have attended a comprehensive secondary school.
    - She will oversee the first round of new GCSE grades, with grades A*-G set to be replaced by 9-1 in some subjects next summer.
    - She will also take on responsibility for reformed A-levels, with the first results for the new A-levels coming out next August.
    - As education secretary, she has the final say on school budget plans - at a time when more school places are required than ever before.
    - She has recently announced a £4.4m fund to tackle bullying in schools.
    - She is also minister for women and equalities and is believed to be the first openly LGBT person to hold the role.
    - She was an accountant before becoming a politician, working for several big firms including PwC and GlaxoSmithKline.
    - She studied economics at the University of Southampton.
    I, or should i say we, can understand the problem of cheating in schools. However by ditching coursework, and replacing it with exam only testing, i fear you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater somewhat. Wouldn't it be better to turn to the way universities tackle plagiarism, (ie via a rigorous turnitin system, which is able to search across the entire spectrum for cheating, and thus virtually eliminate it from universities altogether?) Wouldn't it be much more sensible and technologically astute, to adopt a system like this in our schools, to deal with cheating, as opposed to the current knee jerk reaction?!? That is my only question.
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    (Original post by DamnDaniel2)
    The content has barely changed. It's the fact that we have to do it after the 2 years which doesn't seem unfair at all. It's like GCSEs but less subjects and more in depth and if you manage your time well and revise productively then it won't go wrong. You can use old past papers etc because the content is still 98% the same probably more than that.

    Tbh I think it's good that it's at the end of two years although I prefer the old system much better.
    And also if you can't handle the pressure then you won't be able to handle university (this depends on the uni and sometimes subject).

    Honestly don't think it's as bad as people are saying!
    It honestly depends on the subject. Fundamentally, the style of exam questions have changed now for a lot of subjects.

    But overall, the content is not 98% overlap and I'd love to know where you got that figure from. English Literature has different exam texts therefore, the old papers are rendered useless. There are big chunks of topics missing from the old papers in History as large portions of new content get put in: one unit has quadrupled in size.

    Universities have a modular system going on (as someone above said). Not a string of exams at the end of the course.

    I agree that some people overplay how hard A Levels are, but the de-coupled version is radically different to the legacy qualifications.
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    Why is the standard number of A levels under the reformed system three, not four, when this severely limits the range of subjects students can study at university and makes choice of A levels very difficult for students who are unsure of what they wish to study at University or for a choice of career directly after A levels.
    Also, does the education secretary recognise that linear A levels will increase the pressure on students for the duration of their course and cause a great deal more stress during the exam season which is not healthy or necessary for students, parents or teachers and if so how does she plan to tackle this issue?
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    How will we combat the new reformed remarking system when many of us have experiences of marks changing drastically due to poor marking and stop this from occurring in the future?
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    In University especially, however also in all levels of education, free speech is under threat. Students need to hear a diversity of opinion, so they can make their own decisions, not just being told what decision to make. Will the promotion of free speech and tolerance of other's views be at the core of education reform?
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    How would you make sure that British universities remain open to international students after Brexit?
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    Does she think that having a massive debt to pay off at the end of university makes it more likely that the best graduates will chose to use their education to go for a job with better pay, rather than one which will be of more benefit to society as a whole.
 
 
 
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