Ways to improve/fix the UK's education system?

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bloated_utopia
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#1
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#1
I have been thinking about the UK's education system for a long time - particularly how two-dimensional it is. And it seems to be worsening - diminishing the value of coursework, removing A-level flexibility, etc. Thus I thought it could be interesting to discuss how to improve the system seeing as the government - alike to TSR - is a hot-pot for Oxbridge kids.
Possible concept:
Three core exams - essential English, Maths, and Science. These would be the only exams you had to do. They would cover the life skills these subjects contain such as finance (Maths), comprehension (English) and why you must not put metal implements in a toaster (Science). Everything else would be based within termly electives, possibly including term long ELP (if the logistics of something so versatile, on such a frequent basis, can be figured out). Somewhat alike to modules in GCSEs. These would be really open-ended, as in one term you could do electives in HTML coding and plant biology, the next you could do coastal defenses and etching. This could be taught from Years 10 to 13, giving plenty of time for exploration. Then a 1-year foundation making sure you're prepared for uni.
A few other things:
- Start moving towards a middle school and high school system like America. Years 6 to 9 being middle school.
- Teach coding. Entwine it in with maths lessons in primary school. Coding is useful in all walks of life and can make students realize how creative and versatile maths can be.
- Have debating classes once a week from year 6. Let the students suggest topics discuss.
- Take another leaf out of America's book. Set up extra-curricular opportunities like they're going out of style. Run by students, for the students. Empower the youth to pursue their interests; whether graded or not.
- Make PE less about mental endurance, more about just getting active. Create options as much as possible. Also, stop tailoring PE curriculums by gender, eg girls play netball, boys play football.
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1420787
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Just stop trying to run them like they're businesses.
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username2911200
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Stop giving disruptive kids chance after chance. If they get to year 10, have no interest at all and are disruptive to everyone else, send them all to a different educational institution, removing them all from mainstream. We all know the chav kids who never bothered, never changed and ruined lessons for all, and who now have nothing to show for their time at school. They hinder other people's education and drag everyone else down who wants to do well.
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bloated_utopia
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#4
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(Original post by offhegoes)
Just stop trying to run them like they're businesses.
That would solve a lot but there's still all the dogmatic examinations and strict structure.
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bloated_utopia
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(Original post by Glassapple)
Stop giving disruptive kids chance after chance. If they get t year 9 and have no interest at all and are disruptive to everyone else, send them all to a different educational institution. We all know the chav kids who never bothered, never changed and ruined lessons for all.
And what let them rot in the gutter? No thanks. I'd prefer to look at why they are disruptive and help them with that so then they can get a good education, thus be able to actually contribute to society in a meaningful way.
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Bang Outta Order
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#6
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give everyone the same education across the board, no matter their social class.
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username2911200
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(Original post by bloated_utopia)
And what let them rot in the gutter? No thanks. I'd prefer to look at why they are disruptive and help them with that so then they can get a good education, thus be able to actually contribute to society in a meaningful way.
That has been tried and tested for years, and it doesn't work, they end up the same. These kids simply do not care how much extra support and resources theymare given, how many counsellors or allowances they get, how many times they are told, how many times they are punished, etc.

They hinder everyone else's progress who want to learn and muck about with their mates who egg each other on. They stick together outside of school and won't cooperate with their school because then they won't get to be part of the gang of friends they're in, which ultimately is all they actually care about; the 'hard' kids.
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bloated_utopia
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#8
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(Original post by Glassapple)
That has been tried and tested for years, and it doesn't work, they end up the same. These kids simply do not care how much extra support and resources theymare given, how many counsellors or allowances they get, how many times they are told, how many times they are punished, etc.

They hinder everyone else's progress who want to learn and muck about with their mates who egg each other on. They stick together outside of school and won't cooperate with their school because then they won't get to be part of the gang of friends they're in, which ultimately is all they actually care about; the 'hard' kids.
So the government just give up on a massive part of society so the taxpayer can pick up the pieces 10 years later when those kids don't have a proper job? That seems very counterintuitive to me. I've spoken to the kind of kids you're talking about and often they make quite clear to me, firstly, they want to know why the hell they are learning this stuff? Secondly, why can't they learn the stuff they want? The concept I proposed gives them three core subjects which are about life skills, and then it's an open book. All the teachers have to figure out is what these kids want to do, whether it be social care, graphic design or carpentry.
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Yaboi
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Honestly we need a more standardised form at A level, more like the American system where kids don't really choose their major until they're in university as to before.

Kids having to chose their degrees basically at 16 is ridiculous imo, they might choose completely the wrong A levels for degrees they realise they want to do but can't apply for them.
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bloated_utopia
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#10
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(Original post by Yaboi)
Honestly we need a more standardised form at A level, more like the American system where kids don't really choose their major until they're in university as to before.

Kids having to chose their degrees basically at 16 is ridiculous imo, they might choose completely the wrong A levels for degrees they realise they want to do but can't apply for them.
I completely agree! This is why I think something term based, very flexible could work. After four years of exploring subjects, one is bound to get a sense of where they are at and thus can choose a suitable foundation course type thing. Although if that fails maybe something mirroring Finland's system could work? With the lack of exams and broad curriculum.
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Popsiclez
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As someone whos in Year 11 I can honestly say the education system sucks and its not the teachers fault I love all my teachers...almost all, but the education system is horrible. Its all about exams exams exams instead of education education education and its more like a business with the big boys profiting around exam season. Also its hard to actually learn anything in lessons when you have the bad kids in it, and they constantly want to be the main attention. Also there are a few rotten teachers who don't know how to engage a class, break things down easily and control everyone, and I'm left having to just self-teach, your teaching Children and Teenagers and should adapt to captivate their interests also. Another thing Stop bloody reforming The Assessment system it really just makes us groan when some annoying pr*ck in Westminister or Parliament think they know whats best for all the children in the country, and they constantly reform things like GCSEs left right and center. Theres no point reforming the exam system if you don't fix education first so people can actually learn more efficently

Another thing I hated most in my Yr 7-10 years is PE I used to loathe seeing it on my timetable that I would activeky and purposely forgetting my PE Kit and having to forge notes as to why I didnt have it, Schools should actually group kids according to their Physical abilities not just chuck them all in together, I still remember how much I dreaded doing football matches on a cold Monday morning and us less able kids being forced into goal and missing every single one and the backlash when we did. PE places too much importance on Competitive sports and on the Sporty people when really you should be focusing on fitness, football isn't the only sport or form of exercise give kids a Choice so they actually put in effort, and are wanting to do PE, the problem with the education system if the close-mindedness of the cirriculum.

I think schools should also have an absolutely 0% tolerence to bullying and what I mean by that is not "Oh lets give him a billion more chances" I mean actually be serious about it, I can't tell you how many kids in my year group has moved schools because of bullying, School should be a place where we could work towards our future not play hide and seek from our tormentors, this is why people hate School because not only do us kids have to deal with the heavy workload but also navigate the complicated construct of the social side of school. And all the Government can think about is exams. How can kids get the knowledge if they're too busy trying to avoid school or half-asleep because of the crap we make them endure. If Kids are bullying other children, I think they should be suspended or excluded immediately we know right from wrong, Students who are often being bullied also have nowhere to turn to because they might be a "grass" or a "snitch".

Until someone actually addresses these isssues don't expect the UK to perform well compared to other countries like China who actually enstill their children with discipline.

Another thing the education system doesn't take into account is the world we live in with: Social media (Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube) and Technological Advancements and things like Playstations Netflix, television, Its not like how it was years ago when all you had was freeview and brick phones. And the System should adapt to that. Its hard to pick up your textbooks with everything around you and the era we live in. Believe it or not, everyone on TSR doesn't account for the whole education system, we're tiny compared to that.

Which brings me to my next point, kids and education should be made equal for everyone and should all get the same level of resources, kids can't help what family or life they're born into. Everyone should have equal footing across examination boards. And for my next point Exam Boards, I think IMO we should have one examining body. And thats it for my rant I only pray for the next wave of kids that have to adhere to the *******s at the department for education.
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bloated_utopia
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#12
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#12
(Original post by Popsiclez)
As someone whos in Year 11 I can honestly say the education system sucks and its not the teachers fault I love all my teachers...almost all, but the education system is horrible. Its all about exams exams exams instead of education education education and its more like a business with the big boys profiting around exam season. Also its hard to actually learn anything in lessons when you have the bad kids in it, and they constantly want to be the main attention. Also there are a few rotten teachers who don't know how to engage a class, break things down easily and control everyone, and I'm left having to just self-teach, your teaching Children and Teenagers and should adapt to captivate their interests also. Another thing Stop bloody reforming The Assessment system it really just makes us groan when some annoying pr*ck in Westminister or Parliament think they know whats best for all the children in the country, and they constantly reform things like GCSEs left right and center. Theres no point reforming the exam system if you don't fix education first so people can actually learn more efficently

Another thing I hated most in my Yr 7-10 years is PE I used to loathe seeing it on my timetable that I would activeky and purposely forgetting my PE Kit and having to forge notes as to why I didnt have it, Schools should actually group kids according to their Physical abilities not just chuck them all in together, I still remember how much I dreaded doing football matches on a cold Monday morning and us less able kids being forced into goal and missing every single one and the backlash when we did. PE places too much importance on Competitive sports and on the Sporty people when really you should be focusing on fitness, football isn't the only sport or form of exercise give kids a Choice so they actually put in effort, and are wanting to do PE, the problem with the education system if the close-mindedness of the cirriculum.

I think schools should also have an absolutely 0% tolerence to bullying and what I mean by that is not "Oh lets give him a billion more chances" I mean actually be serious about it, I can't tell you how many kids in my year group has moved schools because of bullying, School should be a place where we could work towards our future not play hide and seek from our tormentors, this is why people hate School because not only do us kids have to deal with the heavy workload but also navigate the complicated construct of the social side of school. And all the Government can think about is exams. How can kids get the knowledge if they're too busy trying to avoid school or half-asleep because of the crap we make them endure. If Kids are bullying other children, I think they should be suspended or excluded immediately we know right from wrong, Students who are often being bullied also have nowhere to turn to because they might be a "grass" or a "snitch".

Until someone actually addresses these isssues don't expect the UK to perform well compared to other countries like China who actually enstill their children with discipline.

Another thing the education system doesn't take into account is the world we live in with: Social media (Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube) and Technological Advancements and things like Playstations Netflix, television, Its not like how it was years ago when all you had was freeview and brick phones. And the System should adapt to that. Its hard to pick up your textbooks with everything around you and the era we live in. Believe it or not, everyone on TSR doesn't account for the whole education system, we're tiny compared to that.

Which brings me to my next point, kids and education should be made equal for everyone and should all get the same level of resources, kids can't help what family or life they're born into. Everyone should have equal footing across examination boards. And for my next point Exam Boards, I think IMO we should have one examining body. And thats it for my rant I only pray for the next wave of kids that have to adhere to the *******s at the department for education.
You sound a lot like me in year 11 (that isn't a bad thing). With specification reforms I agree, they need to stop messing around teachers and students. They also keep making them more rigorous; isn't it rigorous enough having maybe 15 exams in a month period? It's all about memory, not skill, understanding or technique.
I also agree about PE - too much competitiveness not enough casual, fun exercise. As you said 'give kids a Choice so they actually put in the effort and are wanting to do PE'.
With bullying, I agree, although it can be a complicated issue. The government though do need to give schools the funding and encourage them to have qualified staff to specifically deal with social issues, such as bullying. Consequently meaning there can be 0% tolerance, but the school can help both the victim and the bully back to focusing on school. This additionally means that if the bullying persists, the school can facilitate isolation, suspicion in a proper manner.
It's really interesting you brought up technologies relationship with education. Education needs to adapt, and I feel the best way to do that is make it flexible as hell and have a strong self-driven aspect. More emphasis on learning how to comprehend, research and utilize information - because that is the future. Exams are somewhat outdated, engaging projects will never be outdated.
Equality would also be part of this (r)evolution. Properly funding schools to have good facilities and enough well-qualified staff. Putting all exams on one exam board and thus making marking very reliable would definitely be a great start to kick-starting the (r)evolution.
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floatationdevice
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Just throwing some balance in, but the cons seem heavily exaggerated here. I, personally, love that we get to choose subjects at A level. There is enough guidance and information online that anybody that wants to can make an informed decision.

Also the "naughty" kids are just victims of their social conditioning. The line between them and you can be thinner than you think.
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bloated_utopia
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#14
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(Original post by floatationdevice)
Just throwing some balance in, but the cons seem heavily exaggerated here. I, personally, love that we get to choose subjects at A level. There is enough guidance and information online that anybody that wants to can make an informed decision.

Also the "naughty" kids are just victims of their social conditioning. The line between them and you can be thinner than you think.
Choices are of course always good and I do like A-levels. Although I do find them limiting, for instance, there are a lot of techniques in photography I would love to incorporate into my art A-level, but I can't because I'm not doing a photography A-level. I just think there could be a system (such as my concept) that is so versatile that if you want to explore different subjects you can, but if you want to focus on three or four you can do that too. Your last point hit the nail on the head.
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Arran90
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(Original post by bloated_utopia)
I have been thinking about the UK's education system for a long time - particularly how two-dimensional it is.
You make some very good points.

There is a degree of support from both the home education and the business communities for English and mathematics to be the only examined subjects and the rest of school is purely educational with no exams or qualifications in other subjects. Some people think that the English and mathematics exams should be similar to the GCSE, but others think that they should be very basic and similar to the KS2 SATS with the primary purpose to confirm that the individual is not illiterate or innumerate.

The termly electives are an interesting concept but remember that most teachers have their heads up their backsides about their own subject and teachers can only teach what they know. Back in the 1970s only a small fraction of primary school teachers had any knowledge about science and neither were they expected to know much about science because they were not required to teach it under any national legislation. The culture of teaching nowadays is the culture of being a robot and following directions from the top. Schools can no longer create their own curricula and teachers can no longer teach topics that they find interesting if it's outside of the National Curriculum. Therefore it's a huge cultural shift in teaching.

It's interesting how you support the concept of middle schools. Did you attend one? A few years ago I was talking to the parent of a kid with Asperger syndrome who was at middle school. She stated that she much preferred middle schools to the conventional primary and secondary school system because it eliminates the transition from primary Y6 to secondary Y7 which can be very stressful and traumatic even for the most resilient of kids. The ages of 10 to 12 are usually the most difficult and challenging time at school for kids with Asperger syndrome and the change in environment from primary to secondary school stresses them out very badly, but those who attend a middle school do not have to endure this change in environment. A middle school has the resources of a secondary school (most are legally registered as secondary schools) with the more homely environment and support for students that primary schools have. She thinks that it's a shame that the middle school experiment did not catch on nationally – and was effectively killed by the National Curriculum – as it would have reduced many problems in the school system today.

Computer science and coding are subjects that I would have enjoyed at school but all that existed back then was ICT which was about using Micro$oft Office. I think that basic ICT above KS1 is now a waste of time as a formal timetabled and examined subject because most kids learn to use computers and digital devices outside of school. Computer science and coding are new subjects that parents and teachers are not familiar with. They unfortunately do not have the same status as traditional science has as strong academic subjects. The Computer Science A Level is not a facilitating (or Russell Group) subject - and may never be. This could jeopardise computer science at GCSE and primary school level in the longer term.

(Original post by Popsiclez)
Another thing I hated most in my Yr 7-10 years is PE I used to loathe seeing it on my timetable that I would activeky and purposely forgetting my PE Kit and having to forge notes as to why I didnt have it, Schools should actually group kids according to their Physical abilities not just chuck them all in together, I still remember how much I dreaded doing football matches on a cold Monday morning and us less able kids being forced into goal and missing every single one and the backlash when we did. PE places too much importance on Competitive sports and on the Sporty people when really you should be focusing on fitness, football isn't the only sport or form of exercise give kids a Choice so they actually put in effort, and are wanting to do PE, the problem with the education system if the close-mindedness of the cirriculum.
I agree with you that school PE lessons place too much emphasis on competitive team sports. I strongly believe that government initiatives to increase the amount of competitive team sports in school PE lessons as a measure to combat child obesity will end up increasing child obesity because kids who are not very sporty will just evade PE lessons.

Every sports coach will tell you that students of sport should be grouped by ability and physical build, and not by age or year group or class. The way schools work is that kids are grouped by age and class rather than ability or physical build in PE lessons. This is the consequence of the so called mixed ability classes so beloved of liberal minded and progressive types who despise the concept of grouping kids by their abilities. I have wondered if these people have looked at PE lessons or can they not see outside of the confines of hard subjects like mathematics and science. The result of this is that kids who are good at team sports (and often play them outside of PE lessons) accuse the kids who are not good at team sports of spoiling their game, and ultimately, their education. The news reaches the parents of the sporty kids who then generate ill feelings towards the kids who are not good at team sports as disrupting their education.

Another issue that needs looking at is whether the sports which Britain wins the Olympic Medals in are the sports commonly taught in school PE lessons.
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bloated_utopia
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#16
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(Original post by Arran90)
You make some very good points.

There is a degree of support from both the home education and the business communities for English and mathematics to be the only examined subjects and the rest of school is purely educational with no exams or qualifications in other subjects. Some people think that the English and mathematics exams should be similar to the GCSE, but others think that they should be very basic and similar to the KS2 SATS with the primary purpose to confirm that the individual is not illiterate or innumerate.

The termly electives are an interesting concept but remember that most teachers have their heads up their backsides about their own subject and teachers can only teach what they know. Back in the 1970s only a small fraction of primary school teachers had any knowledge about science and neither were they expected to know much about science because they were not required to teach it under any national legislation. The culture of teaching nowadays is the culture of being a robot and following directions from the top. Schools can no longer create their own curricula and teachers can no longer teach topics that they find interesting if it's outside of the National Curriculum. Therefore it's a huge cultural shift in teaching.

It's interesting how you support the concept of middle schools. Did you attend one? A few years ago I was talking to the parent of a kid with Asperger syndrome who was at middle school. She stated that she much preferred middle schools to the conventional primary and secondary school system because it eliminates the transition from primary Y6 to secondary Y7 which can be very stressful and traumatic even for the most resilient of kids. The ages of 10 to 12 are usually the most difficult and challenging time at school for kids with Asperger syndrome and the change in environment from primary to secondary school stresses them out very badly, but those who attend a middle school do not have to endure this change in environment. A middle school has the resources of a secondary school (most are legally registered as secondary schools) with the more homely environment and support for students that primary schools have. She thinks that it's a shame that the middle school experiment did not catch on nationally – and was effectively killed by the National Curriculum – as it would have reduced many problems in the school system today.

Computer science and coding are subjects that I would have enjoyed at school but all that existed back then was ICT which was about using Micro$oft Office. I think that basic ICT above KS1 is now a waste of time as a formal timetabled and examined subject because most kids learn to use computers and digital devices outside of school. Computer science and coding are new subjects that parents and teachers are not familiar with. They unfortunately do not have the same status as traditional science has as strong academic subjects. The Computer Science A Level is not a facilitating (or Russell Group) subject - and may never be. This could jeopardise computer science at GCSE and primary school level in the longer term.



I agree with you that school PE lessons place too much emphasis on competitive team sports. I strongly believe that government initiatives to increase the amount of competitive team sports in school PE lessons as a measure to combat child obesity will end up increasing child obesity because kids who are not very sporty will just evade PE lessons.

Every sports coach will tell you that students of sport should be grouped by ability and physical build, and not by age or year group or class. The way schools work is that kids are grouped by age and class rather than ability or physical build in PE lessons. This is the consequence of the so called mixed ability classes so beloved of liberal minded and progressive types who despise the concept of grouping kids by their abilities. I have wondered if these people have looked at PE lessons or can they not see outside of the confines of hard subjects like mathematics and science. The result of this is that kids who are good at team sports (and often play them outside of PE lessons) accuse the kids who are not good at team sports of spoiling their game, and ultimately, their education. The news reaches the parents of the sporty kids who then generate ill feelings towards the kids who are not good at team sports as disrupting their education.

Another issue that needs looking at is whether the sports which Britain wins the Olympic Medals in are the sports commonly taught in school PE lessons.
This is a very thorough post. I'm glad that there are different groups supporting a reduction in examinations. As I've started exams in English, Maths and Science should purely be about proven the students know life skills. After exams should be only used in some electives cases and foundation years for university. This also means, seeing as they are teaching life skills, teachers will be able to explain to the less enthusiastic students why they are learning these things.

As for electives, a part I failed to mentioned of my concept is the government could set up a database for electives. There could be some kind of structure within this database to check the term-long elective's accuracy and quality. And seeing as there will no longer be exams the money and structure that goes into that can be redirected. For instance exam, marking could to transformed into elective checking.

While this would be a magnitude of a cultural shift, I believe it won't be as massive as one could think. At first, teachers could just teach the term long modules from the GCSEs (this would work especially well for Science, Maths, and maybe even Geography). Then, over time, they could get to teaching things they enjoy, something they learned about at university, something they found in the database. What I've found over the years, at least at my school, is every individual teacher in a department has a specialty, favors a particular topic. For instance, I had an art teacher who did a degree in textiles, another who is the darkroom specialist, and another who is an amazing painter: they could all teach what they specialize in. This also means that instead of separating students into sets, teachers from one department can just decide to run maybe three different course - all different difficulties.

Middle School wise, no I did not and am not going to a middle school. Albeit I do go to a secondary school that has a sixth form. It's very odd seeing 11-year-olds being towered over by 18-year-olds. Also, I remember in year 7 there was a real feeling of false maturity, being older than you are. It also means that the school's resources and teachers are spread very thinly. Too thinly. Additionally, at 11 kids are still kinda childish about social things and they end up getting themselves in messes - having a fresh start at 14 will I think really emphasize a growth mindset. Then there's the fact that I know at my school year 10 (when I think they should go to high school), was when certain kids started to get into more 'adult' (I guess) stuff (partying, sex, drugs). This means they can do that without year 7 overhearing them or mirroring them. And as you've said would eliminate the stress for some kids and could be a middle ground: hence middle school.

For coding, I think either they could have a coding teacher per maybe 7 schools, who visit a couple of times a week to teach coding. Coding is useful for literally everything, creating video games, art (there's this program called Processing which is an artistic coding environment), web design. This is not just about computer science but every walk of life. And if they don't teach it in primary schools they should at least teach in in my hypothetical middle schools (and that may be more realistic).
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CookieButter
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If you want to improve the education system in a country the last thing you want to do is take a failed education system like that of the US as an example.
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Voi
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Turn all the secondary schools and colleges into universities... problem solved... oh wait...
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bloated_utopia
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#19
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(Original post by CookieButter)
If you want to improve the education system in a country the last thing you want to do is take a failed education system like that of the US as an example.
Just because it doesn't get many things right doesn't mean it doesn't get some things right.
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CookieButter
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(Original post by bloated_utopia)
Just because it doesn't get many things right doesn't mean it doesn't get some things right.
I agree but its in a dire state. The only things you can learn from the USA so far as education is concerned is what not to do.

We are talking about a country that is world renowned, WOLRD RENOWNED, for the utter stupidity of its populous. A country rife with school mass killings and bullying unlike any other country on this planet. A country where students are segregated based on a trivial culture of looks and being cool or uncool. A country where you get scanned and checked for guns and drugs before going into class. A country where teachers are constantly abused and regularly murdered.....Its such an incredibly bad example of success to go by...
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How did your AQA A-level Physics Paper 1 exam go?

Great! Feeling positive (157)
29.24%
It went fairly well (254)
47.3%
It didn't go too well (79)
14.71%
TERRIBLE! (47)
8.75%

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