Politicians meddling with the school system

Politicians meddling with the school system

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s controversial education reforms have sparked massive debate in the media, with some stating that an overhaul of the existing GCSE system is long overdue and others believing politicians should stop ‘meddling’ in the exam system. We asked 1,679 English adults for their views on the proposed ‘English Baccalaureate’ which will eventually replace the current system.

The new system would mean the end of modular examination with a move towards to the old ‘O Level’ style of a single examination at the end of each course. Just over two fifths (43%) agree that modules should be replaced with one end of course exam, with twenty nine percent opposing this.

  • Support for scrapping the modular system is lower in the 18-34 age group compared to the over 55s (31% vs. 57%). Both of these generations have different experiences of how they were examined aged 16 and this is evident in the results

Forty-two percent favour a move towards a higher proportion of the final grade being decided by a final exam and less assessed coursework, with one third (32%) disagreeing with this.

  • Again, older respondents agree there should be less coursework than younger respondents (54% of the over 55s vs. 30% of 18-34s)

Despite a high level of support for one final exam deciding a student’s grade and less coursework, one third (33%) support giving pupils fewer opportunities to re-sit exams.

Some of Michael Gove’s policies are supported strongly – almost two thirds (64%) would support amalgamating the current three main qualification bodies into one single body, with just one in ten (9%) opposing this.

There are some seemingly contradictory views among the English public, with two thirds (65%) stating that the country’s education system is falling behind others, however an equal proportion (65%) agree that politicians should ‘stop meddling with the school system and let teachers get on with their jobs’. Education is a very emotive and complex subject, and is a controversial topic for any government and it may never be possible to ‘get it right’ in everyone’s eyes. The influence of age and which system they were educated in, whether it was School Certificates, O Levels or GCSEs, has a profound influence on views on educational reform.

The prevailing ‘exams are easier now than they were in my day’ attitude is alive and well, with half (52%) stating exams have become easier since they left school. Over six in ten (62%) over 55s agree exams are easier now in the years since they left school, compared to 35% of 18-34 year olds.

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 1,679 English adults aged 18+ from 18th to 20th Septemeber 2012. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.