Abolishing A-Levels is not enough
The PM has floated the idea of a major reform of A-levels. A further announcement is expected at the Conservative Party Conference. This is to be welcomed. Indeed, it is one of the suggestions we make in “Education for the 21st Century” our Open Manifesto suggestions for educational reform.
Yet the suggestion that A-levels should be replaced by a baccalaureate betrays a government locked in an archaic, exam focused mindset that is no longer fit for the requirements of the 21st century.
The world has transformed. An education system that has become a joyless exam factory, still focused on the transmission of knowledge and testing through formal exams, is no longer fit for purpose in an information saturated world. A world where knowledge is available at everyone’s fingertips; where emerging Artificial Intelligence tools will transform the landscape; where today’s ‘knowledge’ is obsolete tomorrow morning; where businesses continue to complain about hiring students unable to be productive in the real world.
What is needed is a fundamental change in mindset of what a 21st century education should look like not the tinkering around the edges that has characterised so-called ‘education reform’ for decades.
In our manifesto suggestions we focus on the following main issues:
- Rethinking what the purpose of education is in a 21st century world
- Abolishing the national curriculum and moving towards a system where individual students can compile their own curriculum according to their own passions and interests
- Developing the teaching skills necessary in a 21st century technology dominated and information saturated world
- Moving from a summative approach to evaluating performance (exams) to a formative, project-based assessment
- Incorporating exposure to ‘real world’ experience into the educational model
- A fundamental reset of the role of Ofsted to focus on enhancing performance rather than finger-wagging policing
Education is a vital tool for strengthening the country’s economic prospects, narrowing the gap between rich and poor, improving social mobility, encouraging innovation and change, providing resilience, reducing dependency, and providing empowerment and real participation in civic life.
We need a government that is capable of delivering the bold reforms necessary to change the mindset and approach. To enable Britain’s success in a 21st century world.