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Comparing Past & Present Grades
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 30 August 2008
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As a result of the annual debate on standards I have been considering how best to compare the grades of current 16 year olds and those achieved by us oldies three decades ago.
When O-levels were introduce in the 1950s they were graded but the important point was whether you passed or failed. Another exam, the [...]

Exam Results Still Mean Something
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 26 August 2008
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Well, last week the GCSE results came out and they became the usual political football. Despite my previously stated views on  the Twenty First Century Science syllabus, I am not among those who consider the GCSEs to be meaningless.
I would agree that a Grade C now is not the same as a Grade C 30 [...]

Additional Applied Science
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 10 July 2008
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As promised here, I am posting a couple of Twenty First Century Science Additional Applied Science questions.
These questions are taken from the Higher tier Materials and performance paper sat on 20 June 2008. There are 12 marks available for these questions out of a total of 36 for the five questions. Forty five minutes were [...]

The Twenty First Century Science Syllabus
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 7 July 2008
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Judging by this post on Bad Science, which expresses a view I have heard elsewhere, there are those who think that the syllabus I have criticised is just an add-on to the GCSE science syllabus. I can understand why they think this but regretably they are wrong, it is the syllabus.
These days, most pupils study [...]

How About This?
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 20 June 2008
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The following three questions are taken from the modular exam covering units B5, C5 and P5 of Twentyfirst Century Science sat by Year 11s on 18 June 2008.
There are 14 marks for these questions out of 42 available for the full nine questions. The time allowed was 40 minutes.
[...]

How Hard is This?
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 17 June 2008
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Today’s post contains a couple of questions from a modular exam sat by Higher Tier GCSE science students on 11 June 2008.

 
 
There are a total of seven marks for these questions out of a maximum of 42. There are a total of eight questions to be completed in 40 minutes.
 Regrettably, I am not cherry picking [...]

Reform Mathematics
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 4 June 2008
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Thanks to Ken Mackenzie over at Bad Science for the heads-up on Reform’s concerns about mathematics education. The authors (Laura Kounine, Professor John Marks and Elizabeth Truss) are not happy.
 I know you should not judge a book by its cover but I cannot resist observing that the title page is purple and page 2 is solid [...]

Study Leave
By kelvinthroop
Posted in , syndicated on 3 June 2008
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Rather belated commentary on the article on this subject in “Education Guardian” on 20 May.
Schools are restricting the amount of study leave pupils taking external exams are allowed. From when I was at school until fairly recently, once the external exams had started, pupils were required to be in school for their exams only; the [...]

Evangelical Education
By kelvinthroop
Posted in , , syndicated on 23 May 2008
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Richard Dawkins writes of the religious endarkment. When you read about the Carmel Christian School in Bristol, you can see why.
The school makes considerable use of the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) devised in Florida and a lot of work is done from PACE (Packages of Accelerated Christian Education) workbooks. If you watched Dispatches on Channel [...]

Edge and Vocational Education
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 18 May 2008
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Prompted by seeing an ad in the 6 October issue of the Guardian I have been looking at this campaign group’s website. Their view is that vocational education is undervalued and that the current education system is too obsessed with getting people into university.
I confess I am in two minds about this. In the pre-comprehensive [...]

Do We Need the Cambridge Pre-U?
By kelvinthroop
Posted in , syndicated on 16 April 2008
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The Guardian on Saturday April 12 carried an article by Polly Curtis, their Education Editor, entitled “Elite rival to A-levels wins backing from exams body”.

It refers to the Cambridge Pre-U diploma drawn up by the University of Cambridge International Examinations, which has won official backing from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. It will be funded [...]

Paxo Stuffs Brain Gym
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 3 April 2008
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The ludicrous “Brain Gym” got the Paxman treatment on “Newsnight”.
You can watch the “Newsnight” broadcast featuring “Brain Gym” here. The relevent item starts 18 minutes in. You can also find a YouTube link on Ben Goldacre’s blog. A commenter on the blog makes some interesting points about the school, of which more anon.
While I am [...]

Teaching Children to be Useless
By kelvinthroop
Posted in , syndicated on 18 March 2008
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By that I mean the continued message given to pupils that they have no responsibility for looking after themselves, that if they screw up there will always be someone to bail them out.You might think that you don’t do that and maybe your school doesn’t but I’ll give you a couple of examples and be [...]

More Joined Up Thinking
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 7 March 2008
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I thought that we were supposed to be trying to get more school students interested in science? I must have got that wrong because that’s not what the Government’s policies will achieve.
I read this today.
That’s right; to save a measly two and a half million pounds per year the Science & Technology Philistine Council is [...]

Beware of Your Phone Charger!
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 1 March 2008
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I’m sure people think I’m getting a little obsessive about the Twenty First Century Science syllabus. If you do then this post will confirm your thoughts because I’m returning to it. In my defence I should point out that it is such a wonderful source of dubious science.
Section P5 covers electric circuits and parts of it [...]

And Today’s Daft Idea…
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 25 February 2008
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…is from Dylan Williams of the Institute of Education for his idea that, according to today’s Metro, “Millions of pounds could be saved on educational spending if a ‘traffic light system’ showing pupils’ understanding was used”.
To be fair to Dylan Williams I tried to find more about this, given the tabloid press’ ability to get [...]

Dispatches: The Children Left Behind
By kelvinthroop
Posted in , syndicated on 12 February 2008
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In last the Dispatches programme of 11 February, former headteacher James Wetz made a case for the proposistion that secondary schools are too larfe and that this is the reason why they are failing many children.
He points out that many children fail to acieve the academic success indicated by their Key Stage two SATs (taken at [...]

Coming Soon, the McA-Level
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 28 January 2008
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Today’s media oulets all seem to be carrying the story that McDonalds is going to be offering A-level equivalent courses. See here, for example.

Is There a Higher Education Policy?
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 21 January 2008
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Does the Government actually have a coherent policy on Higher Education, or is my perception - that the “policy” is in fact a random series of poorly thought out initiatives - correct?

Education System to Blame for Rail Chaos?
By kelvinthroop
Posted in syndicated on 7 January 2008
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In Saturday’s Guardian, Julian Glover concluded an item on the recent problems on the railways by writing:-
“…that points to the real reason for the mayhem: there are not enough engineers in Britain. The education system, as much as the rail industry, should take the blame for that.”

An Incentive To Cheat (Part 2)
By kelvinthroop
Posted in , syndicated on 17 December 2007
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Given the small but select bunch that read this blog, it was highly unlikely that it was read by Government ministers. Which is a pity because if they had read this they migt not have come up with this bright idea - financial incentives for schools to dramatically improve.

Schools Secretary Balls
By kelvinthroop
Posted in , syndicated on 13 December 2007
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This Government is going down the same path as Blair’s. Something that’s being done already is presented as if it’s a new policy, combined with initiatives that do not address the fundemental problems.

Twenty First Century Physics Meets Powerwatch
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 9 November 2007
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We return once again to the love of my professional life: Twenty First Century Science. In section P2 we study electromagnetic radiation which might seem like real science and indeed there are elements of it (once you get past the bit about testing sun-creams, that is). When we reach the activities relating to microwaves, though, [...]

Twenty First Century Chemistry
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 5 November 2007
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Remember making crystal gardens at school? Remember your introduction to the concept of saturated solutions by heating evaporating dishes full of salt solutions and watching the crystals form? How old were you when you did that? I’m prepared to bet that it was in the First Year, or Year 7 as they call it these [...]

Creationism’s Trojan Horses
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 10 October 2007
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Back in the 1970s, Ben Bova wrote an editorial in Analog magazine regarding christian groups demanding “equal time” for creationism in American school science lessons. I wondered why he was worried about it, I didn’t believe for a moment that a nation as scientifically and technologically advanced as the USA would succumb to religious fundamentalism. [...]

Physics and Maths Teachers Needed!
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 6 October 2007
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The number of students taking physics A-level has been declining for twenty years. To counter this, the government has launched a campaign to recruit more physics and maths teachers. Lord Sainsbury proposes that physics in schools need not be taught by physics graduates, instead it could be taught by graduates in other subjects (he mentions material science) [...]

Twenty-First Century Science
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 3 October 2007
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In many ways the twenty first century has been a bit of a disappointment. The first rocket flight from Heathrow to Luna City has yet to be scheduled, there are no Belters mining the asteroids and I don’t commute in a flying car.
On the plus side, there have been robot probes throughout the the solar [...]

No Faith in Faith
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 1 October 2007
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Over in Northern Ireland, education has always been segregated divided on faith lines. Anybody who has read British or Irish newspapers or watched British or Irish television over the last three decades know the marvelous consequences of that - Northern Ireland is second only to the Balkans in the European Religious Bigotry League Table.
On page [...]

An Incentive to Cheat
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 29 September 2007
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Most people have heard of “The Law of Unintended Consequences”, the notion that the consequences of your actions may be far different to those you intended. It is possible that one Government policy is encouraging teachers to give unethical levels of assistance to their students.
Most have also heard of school league tables, which rank schools [...]

The Exam Chestnut
By kelvinthroop
Posted in on 24 September 2007
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You know what I mean, we hear the same refrain every year when the GCSE, AS and A2 results come out. On the one side detractors say that exams must be getting too easy and on the other the Government and the Education Establishment say that the latest results are evidence of ever increasing standards. [...]