Union boss: ‘It’s time to scrap GCSEs’
JERSEY should consider scrapping the GCSE examination because it is ‘antiquated and outdated’, according to a senior teacher in the Island.
Brendan Carolan, the head of social science at Victoria College, said the GCSE exam was a legacy of the British Empire and served only to test a student’s ability to ‘regurgitate’ facts.
‘GCSEs are about the regurgitation and retention of knowledge,’ Mr Carolan said.
‘Modern children are not necessarily good at that and don’t really need it. They need presentation skills, research skills and creativity.
‘So many talented children end up being labelled as failures because the educational exam structure is not fit for purpose – it’s a 19th Century system in a 21st Century world.
‘Someone’s got to be brave and bold enough to do something so radical like drop the GCSE examination.’
Asked to elaborate on his description of GCSEs being a throwback to 19th Century schooling, he said: ‘The exam system was really created to service the British Empire – especially the rule of India and Africa in the 19th Century. Back then we needed loads of clerks – we needed millions of people to do clerical duties to run the empire.
‘And writing quickly in an exam situation is what O-Levels were and GCSEs are still about, but that’s not necessarily what life is about anymore.
‘A generation of children who are really social media savvy and internet savvy are switched off and bored by this type of qualification. We’re almost having to drag them kicking and screaming into the required mind set, which is no longer natural for the modern generation.
‘I agree with Tony Little, the former headmaster of Eton, who said GCSEs should be scrapped and that education isn’t just about academics, but the full picture.’
He added: ‘It’s no one’s fault – not the Education Department, the teachers, the parents or the kids. It’s an elephant in the room until someone goes, “You know what, let’s change this”.
‘Jersey is in a great position as a system where we could make changes well before the UK. But we really need the exam boards to make that radical change.
‘We don’t have to plough the same barren furrow that the UK does and believe that [these] examinations are a real test of a student’s talent and ability, when we really do know that they are not.’
The States press office were contacted for comment.