The government have recently announced plans to make pupils who get below a C in English and Maths GCSEs retake or keep learning. The idea is that these are the subjects which are vital to future employment and areas that often are not up to scratch. Sounds fine so far right? Sensible plan, true these are important subjects that provide invaluable skills in everyday life. In principle no one could disagree with this, but in practice it is merely representative of how far removed from the school system and teachers the government is.
From emails to lengthy reports and essays; the majority of employment requires in particular written English to be used. However I have a confession to make but please let's keep this between us. I hate grammar, apostrophes, paragraphs, spelling, it all scares me a little bit when I write anything. Not so much because I don't think it's important of course it is, or you would not be able to understand what I am saying right now, it is for two altogether different reasons. 1. For me grammar and spelling represent school English lessons, which I hated and 2. I have never really understood it. Therefore yes it may have been good for me to retake at the time of my GCSEs so I would have a better understanding. However, the thing is (I'm a little ashamed to admit) I got an A* for my GCSE English so how can a GCSE ensure later confidence with literacy or sums. In most cases it will not ensure employment, therefore does it really help these students to force them to achieve grades that may not help them in the future?
Once again Michael Gove has not thought this through, how on earth can you force teenagers, especially those that are clearly not schools swots to attend extra lessons? A lot of the time those that fail are the kids that do not want to be in school, do not pay attention and don't do the work. Therefore are the government just going to try and drag out their GCSEs for appearances so they can pretend they are still learning? The phrase you can lead a horse to water but not make it drink comes to mind here. Passing a GCSE subject is not indicative of your potential or passion in other walks of life, just because they don't like learning English and Maths in a school set up. What about those that want to go off to do apprenticeships or just simply don't need English and Maths so much as a good solid grounding in the field they wish to enter.
These children who will be forced to retake could be pursuing careers they are passionate about and getting first-hand experience. They are not going to want to sit in a classroom retaking exams they weren't that fussed about in the first place. Also it has not been said how many times they are going to make teens re-take and what happens if their grades go down. Will it then be a simple case of 'right well that was a waste of time and months of your life where you could have been getting real work experience, bye!'
As you can see I am extremely skeptical that these new laws will make any difference to teenagers and in fact could hinder the progress of some in what they want to do. Although as with any of Gove's experiments all teachers, pupils and the general public can do is watch while rules are made, half-heartedly executed, then fall spectacularly to pieces.