Should Schools Only Teach To The Tests – Exam Factories

Are you a happier, more successful adult because of good grades at school? Is student achievement exclusively measured by good exam grades?

With the focus on schools increasingly centred on how high or low their exam pass rates are, you may have seen the term ‘exam factory’ used in a number of news articles over the past few years. If you’re not sure what the term means exactly, essentially it speaks to the lack of flexibility within the current education system to prepare teenagers for the demands of working in today’s world. Rather than creating an environment that promotes creativity and fun, our schools are locked in a cycle of chasing stat targets, which has a knock on effect to way in which children are taught.

You may be shocked to hear that the current examination model is pretty much the same as when it was first used back in 1858. As we modernise our school system, should we create a more fun and rewarding curriculum? If students fail GCSEs, can they ever look upon their time at school as a success?

As any parent with more than one child already knows, each one has a different learning ability compared to the other. Some students are not able to pass GCSEs or SATs tests. When you add in exam pressure that lasts for years on end, with the feeling of unhappiness that comes from studying a subject they struggle to understand – let alone enjoy – then maybe schools are failing students by fostering anxiety and unhappiness.

As various teachers will state themselves, introducing a touch of creativity and fun into the way children learn would have a hugely positive impact. Every adult should have fond memories of different and engaging lessons at school.

Does this year’s lower pass rate at GCSE level mean that schools are failing? When the pass rate increases do newspapers assume that exam standards are constant and rejoice that more students are passing? Or do they assume that the exams are getting easier? Harder exams mean that it is harder to compare one year’s GCSE with another’s, which will create even more unfair pressure being placed onto your children at a time in their lives they need the exact opposite.

Thankfully, as parents it is never too late to create the right environment for learning and encouraging your child to form their own independent learning skills at home. By developing their curiosity to explore and discover for themselves, it provides an informal learning platform. Taking them to museums and places of interest are helpful, as is talking to them about current events and news articles.

At Ipswich Tuition Centre we foster learning with a positive learning environment that students enjoy. We provide skills for life such as numeracy, literacy, how to read a text book or research something effectively online. We also engage students in conversation, challenge their ideas and suggest alternatives. Above all we foster a positive work ethic and provide support to students often stressed or jaded from schools obsessed with exam grades.

Social media will no doubt play a big part in your child’s life and getting them to challenge what they hear and read encourages them to think critically. Rather than accept everything as read, they will develop the ability to take a step back to understand the information they receive is valid and useful.

Helping your child to think about their goals and how they can be achieved allows them to plan effectively. This can be for immediate, short term and long term plans. They can apply it to both their personal and school life, providing them with the tools to continue on and plan their professional careers.

Attributes such as confidence, concentration, self-motivation and independence play an important part in developing independent learning skills. While specific guidance on a topic can help with an exam pass mark, it doesn’t allow children to think beyond that way of thinking. By experiencing a new situation or challenge armed with independent learning skills, they will be able to confidently approach the problems and find ways to solve them.

Learning at school should not only be relative to the time your child spends in education and passing the next exam. Children need to be encouraged to think about developing a wider set of skills that will allow them to succeed and flourish as an adult too.

What positive memories do you have from your time in school? Are you successful in life simply because of the grades you achieved? Does your child attend an exam factory, or do they flourish with creativity and happiness?


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