This post has been written by Anna Pasolini as part of her work experience with IntoUniversity.
Earlier this week Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, launched a report declaring that state schools are failing to nurture their brightest pupils – ‘an issue of national concern’, he claimed. This criticism was based on the fact that last year almost two-thirds of pupils who had achieved a level five or above in English and Maths at the end of primary school did not get an A/A* grade in the same subjects at GCSE in non-selective state schools. Sir Michael called these statistics ‘pretty poor’ and ‘discouraging’, adding that ‘too many of our most able children are under-performing in state comprehensive schools.’
On Thursday, teachers across the country argued against Wilshaw’s accusations, claiming he was pandering to Michael Gove and reaching incorrect, outrageous conclusions. Chris Keates, the general secretary of the Nasuwt teachers union, argued that data was taken from only 41 schools out of a possible 4,500, and that a small study was being used to ‘condemn the whole of the state school education system.’
Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, supported this by adding that the percentage of pupils who achieved level 5 at the end of primary school should not be an indicator for GCSE success because many primary schools coach and guide their students to achieve this level. Teachers have also raised the issue that these tests were not designed to predict future GCSE success, as the exam style is radically different and doesn’t take cognitive skills or creativity into account.
While it is true that there is always room for improvement when it comes to education, it can be incredibly damaging for teachers to be aggressively criticised about inconclusive matters, and even more so for children all across the country who are days away from sitting their GCSEs to hear that they are underachieving and their teachers are failing them.
Whichever side you favour, children at selective state schools and independent schools are statistically far more likely to attend top universities than those who attended non-selective school. We know that top GCSE grades often result in entrance into higher education, so this is further proof of the need for organisations like IntoUniversity which help young people to achieve their full potential.
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