The recent UK GCSE results show that students in the country are improving in many areas of the national curriculum. One area that is suffering though is English. As one of the core subjects on the curriculum teachers and schools should be putting the most effort into teaching English. Despite this fact, it appears that more and more young people have low levels of both English language and literacy. This year only 61% of students got a C or above in their English examinations. The statistic could cause huge issues for colleges who expect a C at GCSE level as standard. Many of the students will now have to re-sit their qualifications. Worse still the grades mean that some will not be able to continue in their education.
For many years, the UK government have been striving to ensure that students achieve more at this early level. GCSEs are the entry grades to colleges. Without GCSEs students will struggle to find work and will not be able to continue in their education. Making sure that each student achieves the right grades should be at the top of the authority’s agenda. This year is a huge setback as oppose to previous years, when many schools in Britain have excelled. The government will have to take new measures to ensure that students get the highest level of education available to them.
So why are British students failing English? There are many theories to explain this phenomenon. One of the most popular theories is that there is a huge discrepancy between syllabuses across the UK. Students in Wales, for example, are learning a different English Literature syllabus to the rest of the UK. There are now three main examining boards who oversee GCSE tests. If there is to be any continuity between tests the examining bodies will need to work together to make sure, their tests are similar. Tests should not differ much in style and level of difficulty, yet we are now seeing a huge gap between exams in the UK.
Another theory that would explain the sudden failure is that class sizes are now too big. It is obvious that smaller classes mean a better level of education for each student. Class sizes in Britain have grown in size over the last ten years. The average class size in 2004 was twenty students per class. Now, in 2014, classes have grown to an average of forty-five students per class. The fact that classes have got so large means that students don’t get the attention they need to succeed. Schools don’t have the vital resources needed to educate the high volumes of students they are seeing. Teachers are now having to teach many classes in modular buildings outside of school property. They are having to do this because there are not enough classrooms on site to house the great many students attending school.
The final theory about why the English grades have got worse this year is that the English examination is different. 2014 saw examining bodies get rid of the speaking and listening element of the English exam. This aspect of the exam was arguably the easiest phase of the test. Without this aspect to pull students’ grades up, students may have found the exam much harder than in previous years. The change in test may have meant that many students were ill-prepared for their English exams.
Whatever the reason behind the sudden drop in English GCSE grades one thing is clear. The state of schools in the UK must improve in the future. It is vital to the education of young people within Britain that they have every advantage possible. This failure has highlighted an issue within UK schools, which officials will have to try and resolve in the coming months.