English GCSE rant


  • I am not an English teacher and I rarely teach below 6th form level although recently I have had some experience in lower school.
  • My level of English is at C grade level, my grammar and spelling sucks.
  • I think Michael Gove should not be in office as he has no idea what he’s talking about.


This is how English education works; Student are split into groups with higher more capable students at the top and lower students at the bottom. The lower students are those they are just trying to get to pass and possibly get a C. These students have various behavioural issues, their attendance is low and they dislike having to do anything. Many cannot access the simplest of work because they have either discovered or undiscovered learning difficulties. Asking any of these children to read in itself is a task I do not wish on even the most excellent, experienced and inspirational teacher. There are some children that you just can’t reach no matter what you do! 

The core texts that the students have to learn, will have the most time spent on them because these are the ones that they will gain the most marks on. So the exact texts that Michael Gove has decided in his infinite idiocy to make sure that every child must learn will switch off those who are already switched off from education. It will make the lives of the teacher trying to teach them a living hell! That teacher will also not get paid as much as their nearest compatriot because of performance related pay they will not make their increment target set by their SLT, and therefore will either remain on the same pay or even have a pay cut, because of the attainment of their students. 

I feel for these students as well. Not having an English GCSE at Grade C or above will affect them for the rest of their life. Restricted to only a few careers at minimum wage (even MacDonald’s won’t take you) or even to a life on the ‘Universal Credit’. These children come from families where no one has worked for years. Where they go to sleep hungry or even in someone elses house because their dad ‘doesn’t want to see them in the house tonight’. They come to school unprepared, still hungry, dirty and hyperactive or fast asleep. Now Michael Gove wants to teach them pre 19th century texts.. 

Does anyone see a problem with this??


10 responses to “English GCSE rant

  1. England in general has way too many national examinations. After all, it is silly to learn solely for the purpose of passing an exam, even less so if the focus is on a couple of preselected texts. However, I do not see much issue in having a sort of hierarchy. The students who have it easy are likely to begin disturbing others if they do not find the exercises challenging enough. I believe it might be for the best if there existed a hierarchy for each subject; the children would have to interact with various types of people and the success in a subject might encourage them to improve themselves in others. Thus they would not feel like they were “lesser individuals” for being in the worst group in one of the various subjects.

    • I see no problem with the hierarchy itself however these reforms will extend the hierarchy making it more pronounced. Mixed ability groups help no one the top don’t get stretched, the middle get forgotten and the bottom impact on everyone else’s achievement. What we actually need is for the teacher to be able to respond to the class and pick what they feel is necessary for those individuals without this meddling by someone who had barely set foot in a classroom.

      • Gove did not decide on this alone. As far as I understood it, the idea of lengthening the bibliography was just to help teachers to be able to pick texts most suitable for their students. Not everyone likes Of Mice and Men and it is good to have other possibilities at hand. It may be difficult for a teacher to introduce the correct novels to the students but, if done correctly, it might just rekindle the student’s interest for literature.

      • So they are extending the choice by removing texts?? And making sure that the hardest texts are the core ones that each student has to study regardless.. Give me a break!

      • As weird as it is, yes. You can’t just teach Of Mice and Men to a year after another. Sometimes removing an option and replacing it with other ones does make more sense, especially if 90% of the students were reading that one. After all it is an English GCSE, not Of Mice and Men GCSE. But I must admit, I’ve never done GCSE (well, ok… I did do IGCSE). I standby the Ken Robinsons and others to say that they should take a far more liberal course of action, which these reforms are still far from, but I still see them as an improvement which might breathe some new life into the ancient GCSEs.

      • Well I have sat GCSE English and I didn’t even study of mice and men in fact I’ve never read the book so that statement is ridiculous! How can you have a more liberal approach by removing choices!? What you’re saying doesn’t make sense.

      • Then you are the 10%. I got that statement from here: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-27573218. I don’t mean it will get more liberal through it, although it would become more diverse, which in my eyes is an improvement yet a slight one. For me, it would be ideal if GCSEs had little or no value and the education was less test-oriented. That’s what I meant when I said I would prefer a more liberal direction.

      • I still don’t understand your point that it will become more diverse by making most (if not all) of the core texts pre 19th century! I’m afraid I don’t think your idea of a testless society will ever come about how do you suggest that we determine academic success or failure?

  2. I work in child protection and the loon wants to now privatise us! So yes, I’m with you, sounds ridiculous, dis empowering, an abuse of power, and how Gove carries on I’ve no idea.

  3. Well tests aren’t bad if you use them to measure the governments success in trying to educate certain matters for students, but surely they shouldn’t get on the way of learning process. It appears in UK students pause from doing the “real learning”, questioning and thinking of the learnt and building on top if it, and instead are focusing on having as many correct points in the GCSEs. What use is knowledge if you don’t do anything unique with it?

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