Thursday, January 31, 2008

Father and son at school presentation

This is where we were this evening. Hugo needs to decide which subjects to do for GCSE (‘O’ levels to those older UK readers who don’t know what the new acronyms stand for). Robin was struggling to stay awake.

Having just been through the whole process of university application with Flo I now belatedly realise that not all GCSE and ‘A’ level subjects are considered to be equal in the eyes of certain universities, but there was precious little information about that, this evening. I think many parents would assume that law might be a useful subject if you wanted to study law at university, or that design technology might be a useful subject if you wanted to study architecture or that graphics might be of use for a graphic designer, but in all of these instances they’d be pretty much wrong*.

It seems to me that highly academic children in the state-school system don’t necessarily get the kind of useful advice that their private-school counterparts receive. But then the state schools have such a complicated job trying to provide a good education for children of wildly different levels of ability and from a huge variety of family backgrounds. So I really do feel for the teachers. It’s just I worry that very bright children with not so bright parents are not being served very well, and helps to explain the disproportionately high number of private school educated students at Oxbridge.

* Most top universities consider law ‘A’ level to be so unrelated to law at degree level that they would far rather a student did any other academic ‘A’ level. Cambridge University school of architecture advise against choosing a ‘design’
‘A’ level and would much rather a student did Fine Art. I have looked at the graphics technology syllabus and find it neither good life-time education about the basic principles of design, nor good training. It seems to simply be poor quality training – showing students how to use the wrong kind of software to produce unrealistic design projects.

Brushpen in small sketchbook


Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Julie,
In our sorting of second-hand and new books to send to the South Pacific Islands we are given lots of Year 12 books which are not suitable to send, but I browse through these $45 books - often barely used, and realize that Year 12 kids here in Victoria really have to work exceptionally hard. The course work, assignments, etc. covers so much material and the schools expect more work from the kids than first year university it seems.

2/02/2008 12:54 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Julie - you should write to the exam boards and make just those points or maybe ask them why the A levels are as they are when the universities taken up suh positions.

It doesn't sound like much has changed..........

2/02/2008 4:24 PM  
Blogger wagonized said...

I love the brush pen. Very cool sketch, Julie.

2/02/2008 7:07 PM  
Blogger Julie Oakley said...

Wendy, sorting school books reminds me of the school books we used when I was at school in Fiji. They had been written for African children and so were full of tales of lions terrorising villages and how to treat malaria.
Katherine I read somewhere that if you want to go to a Russell Group university you should avoid three types of A level. Ones with the word 'technology' at the end, ones with the word 'studies' at the end and ones which are made up of initials.
I suppose the best option is classic core subjects.

2/03/2008 3:45 PM  

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