More than half of English students fail to get 5 Cs at GCSEs Watch

Hopping Mad Kangaroo
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(Original post by The_Adarshster)
You can't drop out of school before 16, Bismark.
You can become "home schooled" though. Plus there are schemes that effectively let certain people do something different with their GCSE years, although I am a bit sketchy on the details...
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the_whirligig
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(Original post by Bismarck)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...on/7179479.stm

According to that study, well over 50% of English students were unable to get 5 Cs on their exams. What does this say about England? How can a country allow more than half of its young people to fail to reach a ridiculously low standard? Can England's major social problems, most notably its drinking culture, rise of "chavs", and hooliganism be caused by this awful education system?

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/dropout0.../figure_04.asp

That's compared to 3/4 of Americans finishing high school, which is 4 years long (ends when students are about 18), requires passing far more than 5 classes, and where you can't pick and choose which basic classes to take.
The value of a grade C is relative only to the education system it was measured in. If you want to compare the US and UK correctly you're going to have to find either a means to convert otherwise arbitrary statistics or have them sit the same tests.

Thankfully the OECD runs a tri-annual programme called PISA that provides this information for us (link). The performance of the developed countries is of marginal difference but in these results the UK is one of the 'high-scoring' top seven nations while the US is towards the bottom. For example, if we check tables 2.7 to 2.10 we'll see that the US scores below the OECD average in 3 out of 4 science-based areas and below the UK in all of them. The most striking difference is its very low score in the 'physical systems' category, which I think is cause for concern as it could be a result of creeping creationism and business interests influencing the US education system.

However, these statistics only deal with 15 year olds, and a lot can happen between that age and adulthood. The OECD provides another set of statistics called Education at a Glance (link) that has listings for tertiary education. I think tertiary education is a good standard for us to use as it's more likely to represent career success than teenage grades (which is really what the O.P. is talking about). 37% of people in the UK have tertiary education, compared wtih 39% Americans. This minor 2% is despite the US being the #1 destination for global graduate migration and something like twice as much money going in to the American tertiary education system per pupil than the UK. Furthermore, projections indicate the US is not only slipping due to a reduction in entrants, but the UK will surpass them soon due to higher entrants and a maintained above-average completion rate.
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Petit chou
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The problem is alot of schools have teaching prioblems, in my school both my science teachers were off ill for the majority of when i was in year 10 and 11 and also my business studies class went through about 5 different teachers, only 1 of which actually taught us anything and we only had him for about 2 months before he left. My ICT teacher never taught us anything just sat and played on his laptop. How are people expected to pass an exam in a subject they were hardly ever taught, alright you can argue that you can learn the material for GCSE's on your own but when the majority of children who go to these types of schools have parents who don't care and can't afford tuition and the kids have been brought up to hate the school system they're not going to sit at home and try to teach them selves maths are they.

And when i was in school my school was ranked the 2nd best in my area, so god knows what the other schools were like cos mine was disasterously bad.
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la fille danse
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(Original post by Holsy)
Come on- not everyone is academically minded or certainly not everyone wants to be. And thank god- because what a boring world it would be. There's no use making kids do 'academic' GCSEs when they're better suited doing a vocational subject or apprenticeship- or doing a smaller range of subjects. You can't force square pegs into round holes- the only way you're going to make everyone achieve more than 5 Cs is to lower grade boundaries and it'll become like "pass and fail" where an E is a pass but in many places not regarded as a pass, whereas C is.
What?! Getting 5 C's doesn't make somebody "academically minded."

A "C" is supposed to represent mediocrity. Most people take around ten or so GCSEs right? Expecting people to get a mediocre grade in HALF the subjects they take isn't expecting them to be academically minded, at all. It's expecting them to be not completely stupid and/or lazy.
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Holsy
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(Original post by no hero in her sky)
What?! Getting 5 C's doesn't make somebody "academically minded."

A "C" is supposed to represent mediocrity. Most people take around ten or so GCSEs right? Expecting people to get a mediocre grade in HALF the subjects they take isn't expecting them to be academically minded, at all. It's expecting them to be not completely stupid and/or lazy.
So what you're saying is- is that it's someone with learning dificulties' own fault if they're 'stupid and/or lazy'. You say it like it can be changed easily.
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choco6
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(Original post by Holsy)
So what you're saying is- is that it's someone with learning dificulties' own fault if they're 'stupid and/or lazy'. You say it like it can be changed easily.
Do you really believe more than half the student population has learning difficulties? A majority of these students who fail to get less than 5 C's probably are just lazy.
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Holsy
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Boys are more likely than girls to be identified as having a learning disability. In 2004, 10 percent of boys and 6 percent of girls ages three to 17 had a learning disability. Source: http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/i...sabilities.cfm

No, not the majority- but a considerable amount. And as for a C representing mediocrity- friends that go to other schools in my area consider C an achievement. They do not have learning difficulties- but nor are they gifted. But they do try hard.

Let's not forget such factors as: financial problems; problems at home- ranging from a lack of support to something far more traumatic; and underperforming schools; drugs/drink/crime. These things do exist- and yeah sure so do 'lazy' people, but that's hardly the sole reason.You may say, "My teacher isn't any good so I look the syllabus up and revise from that." People are not always informed of these things. We're all very privileged here on this forum so it's easy for us to not consider other people's situations and call people 'lazy'. Of course, some people are lazy but let's not regard the matter of this ridiculous news that 'half of students fail to get 5 Cs" as a matter purely to do with stupidity or laziness. Abilities do differ- this is natural, human and acceptable.
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choco6
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(Original post by Holsy)
Boys are more likely than girls to be identified as having a learning disability. In 2004, 10 percent of boys and 6 percent of girls ages three to 17 had a learning disability. Source: http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/i...sabilities.cfm

No, not the majority- but a considerable amount. And as for a C representing mediocrity- friends that go to other schools in my area consider C an achievement. They do not have learning difficulties- but nor are they gifted. But they do try hard.

Let's not forget such factors as: financial problems; problems at home- ranging from a lack of support to something far more traumatic; and underperforming schools; drugs/drink/crime. These things do exist- and yeah sure so do 'lazy' people, but that's hardly the sole reason.You may say, "My teacher isn't any good so I look the syllabus up and revise from that." People are not always informed of these things. We're all very privileged here on this forum so it's easy for us to not consider other people's situations and call people 'lazy'. Of course, some people are lazy but let's not regard the matter of this ridiculous news that 'half of students fail to get 5 Cs" as a matter purely to do with stupidity or laziness. Abilities do differ- this is natural, human and acceptable.
A considerable number, yes. But despite that, surely you do realise that there is a problem?
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Holsy
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Yes, I believe there could be an improvement in the education system undoubtedly. If they do bring in the law in ten years that states teachers have to have a Masters degree that would be a very good step. But that's verging on a different discussion. But yes, I agree with you choco6 that there will always need to be an improvement of standards.
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ChemistBoy
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(Original post by Holsy)
If they do bring in the law in ten years that states teachers have to have a Masters degree that would be a very good step.
Would it really make any difference? Many PGCEs are master's degrees in all but name now anyway and learnedness is not a guarantee of teaching standards.
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la fille danse
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And as for a C representing mediocrity- friends that go to other schools in my area consider C an achievement.
And that, right there, is my point. Do you not think it's a problem that people think of a C as an achievement? It's not SUPPOSED to be an achievement. It's supposed to be just "okay". It's supposed to require a minimal amount of effort. Clearly there's something wrong. :rolleyes: Whether it's the students or the educational system, I don't know.

I grew up with this understanding of the grading system:

A - Excellent
B - Good
C - Mediocre
D - Poor
F - Fail

Maybe it's different in England, I don't know, but where I'm from I've never heard of anyone considering a C an achievement. My brother was a C student and he never pretended that it was an achievement, he knew it was because he didn't bother trying. Luckily my parents have high aspirations for us so they tried to help him instead of pretending that a C is an achievement because some people do worse...


Also, why are there so many different sub-C grades in England? Like E, G, U, etc. Are there so many failing students that you have to add extra grades to differentiate them further?!?
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dismal_laundry
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(Original post by the_whirligig)
The value of a grade C is relative only to the education system it was measured in. If you want to compare the US and UK correctly you're going to have to find either a means to convert otherwise arbitrary statistics or have them sit the same tests.

Thankfully the OECD runs a tri-annual programme called PISA that provides this information for us (link). The performance of the developed countries is of marginal difference but in these results the UK is one of the 'high-scoring' top seven nations while the US is towards the bottom. For example, if we check tables 2.7 to 2.10 we'll see that the US scores below the OECD average in 3 out of 4 science-based areas and below the UK in all of them. The most striking difference is its very low score in the 'physical systems' category, which I think is cause for concern as it could be a result of creeping creationism and business interests influencing the US education system.

However, these statistics only deal with 15 year olds, and a lot can happen between that age and adulthood. The OECD provides another set of statistics called Education at a Glance (link) that has listings for tertiary education. I think tertiary education is a good standard for us to use as it's more likely to represent career success than teenage grades (which is really what the O.P. is talking about). 37% of people in the UK have tertiary education, compared wtih 39% Americans. This minor 2% is despite the US being the #1 destination for global graduate migration and something like twice as much money going in to the American tertiary education system per pupil than the UK. Furthermore, projections indicate the US is not only slipping due to a reduction in entrants, but the UK will surpass them soon due to higher entrants and a maintained above-average completion rate.
Great post- informative documents. Thanks.
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Hopping Mad Kangaroo
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(Original post by no hero in her sky)
And that, right there, is my point. Do you not think it's a problem that people think of a C as an achievement? It's not SUPPOSED to be an achievement. It's supposed to be just "okay". It's supposed to require a minimal amount of effort. Clearly there's something wrong. :rolleyes: Whether it's the students or the educational system, I don't know.

I grew up with this understanding of the grading system:

A - Excellent
B - Good
C - Mediocre
D - Poor
F - Fail

Maybe it's different in England, I don't know, but where I'm from I've never heard of anyone considering a C an achievement. My brother was a C student and he never pretended that it was an achievement, he knew it was because he didn't bother trying. Luckily my parents have high aspirations for us so they tried to help him instead of pretending that a C is an achievement because some people do worse...


Also, why are there so many different sub-C grades in England? Like E, G, U, etc. Are there so many failing students that you have to add extra grades to differentiate them further?!?
So the government can pretend that a C is a decent achievement...
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billydisco
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(Original post by Jurisprude)
im not sure hopw big an issue not reaching 5 C's is. After all,not everyone wants to be an academic
So only people who want to be academics need to obtain 5x A*-C's?

The idea was that this shows most of our country is thick.
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dismal_laundry
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:confused: :confused:

Not sure Jurisprude meant that...
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doggyfizzel
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IMO, if you didn't get 5 A*-C grades you just didn't try. Maybe you tried for the last two years but you can't have tried for 5 years. If you say you did then your lying. Even if you really struggle if you listen you would get a C, without even having to do revision, any grade above that shows you revised hard or you have a talent in that area, or both. So after drawing that conclusion i couldn't care less about these people, less competition at uni. It will be their problem when they relalise that if someones going to employ someone with no qualifications it's goin to be a polish person.
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blissy
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(Original post by doggyfizzel)
It will be their problem when they relalise that if someones going to employ someone with no qualifications it's goin to be a polish person.
haha!
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ChemistBoy
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(Original post by doggyfizzel)
IMO, if you didn't get 5 A*-C grades you just didn't try. Maybe you tried for the last two years but you can't have tried for 5 years. If you say you did then your lying. Even if you really struggle if you listen you would get a C, without even having to do revision, any grade above that shows you revised hard or you have a talent in that area, or both. So after drawing that conclusion i couldn't care less about these people, less competition at uni. It will be their problem when they relalise that if someones going to employ someone with no qualifications it's goin to be a polish person.
Thanks for that, sadly it just isn't true. You can label people as thick if they don't meet your standards, but it doesn't change the fact that for many people obtaining a C is an achievement of effort and I think that shows that our education system is failing these people by not providing them with an education that is right for them rather than them failing themselves. I know a lot of people who've only got C's or so and left school at 16, the technicians at work spring to mind - they aren't stupid and they do difficult jobs that require skill and I would be lost without then in my job as a researcher.
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Crimson Black
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(Original post by ChemistBoy)
Thanks for that, sadly it just isn't true. You can label people as thick if they don't meet your standards, but it doesn't change the fact that for many people obtaining a C is an achievement of effort and I think that shows that our education system is failing these people by not providing them with an education that is right for them rather than them failing themselves. I know a lot of people who've only got C's or so and left school at 16, the technicians at work spring to mind - they aren't stupid and they do difficult jobs that require skill and I would be lost without then in my job as a researcher.
Getting a C doesn't mean you're stupid though, nobody's saying that. However, GCSEs really are the minimum you need to get, the basic "collect $200 when you pass Go" to continue into the wider world. It doesn't take a genius to work out the education system in the UK. Perhaps if the government were to lower the school leaving age to fourteen with, oh, I don't know, preGCSEs... yeah, I can see you laughing and shaking your head already.

GCSEs are the lowest common academic denominator, and getting a C isn't hard, if you're not great at academia it requires a bit of effort and determination (but pah, when is effort and delayed success ever rewarded?). You might argue "it's too academic for them". Pretty much the bare minimum required for any job these days are English, Maths, and possibly a science and foreign language at GCSE. That's 2 mandatory GCSEs. If you find them hard, you might struggle in a proper job. Pupils who find GCSEs too academically rigorous can always do more vocational GCSEs like Art, Photography etc. I personally found vocational stuff easier - I did Art & Design - and I'm sure pupils not geared towards the academic rigour will find them more interesting.

The GCSE system fails when it cannot differentiate between pupils who try really hard and are proud of their Cs, and those who don't bother and get Cs. The only way to measure that difference is to encourage more vocational GCSEs.

That said: I don't believe that, of the 50% or so of those who are failing to get 5 Cs at GCSEs, all of them would struggle. Some aren't motivated enough, some are forced into not giving a damn because of peer pressure... pupils of today live for the moment, they've never heard of delayed success. They want to live the Pop Idol dream and get rich quick without having to try hard - and that's part of the charm of academic qualifications, I find; they're not easy, and prove that you're ambitious and hard-working.

I also happen to believe in the "nothing in life worth having is easy to get" mantra, but then again I set quite high goals for myself. :rolleyes:

[/RAMBLE]
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bright star
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(Original post by love2learn7)
So only people who want to be academics need to obtain 5x A*-C's?

The idea was that this shows most of our country is thick.
a change of heart from mr education-is-for-the-elite?
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