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As the school in Oxfordshire has created its own undergraduate program that enriches | High schools

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AAt Wood Green School in Whitney, Oxfordshire, a group of 7th graders is trying to convince classmates that scientists have taught spinach to send emails. Next door, another class is called up for a 40-second conversation on “What’s Under the Bed?”

Their peers may engage in public speaking, sessions on their own health and well-being, or participate in community service, or present the Duke of Edinburgh Award to all students.

Lessons on how to detect fake news, speeches, discussions, teamwork and emotional intelligence are not attempts to undermine the traditional Gove-ite curriculum. Students of Art Wood Green complete all expected subjects and pass state exams such as GCSE and A-levels.

Many schools offer these opportunities for enrichment. But at Wood Green, the school’s management team opens up the idea of ​​assessing student achievement in all of these areas and awarding its own “undergraduate” as part of a campaign launched this month that aims to radically change the way secondary education is organized in England.

The bachelor’s awards are not new. Wales there is already one and the same international undergraduate is one of the world’s most successful qualifications, noted for its promise to develop a “wide range of human abilities” and requires students to complete projects in creativity, activity and public service, as well as to achieve academic success.

Wood Green’s head teacher Rob Shadbolt realized he wanted something similar for his school years ago after meeting with local employers and then-local MP and Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I asked how the government’s education policy created young people with the skills that these employers wanted. He is [Cameron] replied that employers need employees with good math and English, ”Shadbolt said. “While no one agreed with the importance of numeracy and literacy, employers present in the hall said they primarily prefer young people who know how to communicate, work well with others and on their own, and who take the initiative.

“Passing 4th or 5th grades in math or English GCSE, though important, is not enough. Wider opportunities are built into teaching in private schools. Why shouldn’t every child have that right? This also applies to social justice. “

Shadbolt’s reflections prompted him to join the National Undergraduate Trust, a branch Research Center Roundtable of Executivesgathered on Twitter 10 years ago because of a disappointment in Michael Gove English Undergraduate the idea.

Critics say Gove’s Ebacc, which rates schools on how many students do well in a small number of subjects, is not at all like the real thing, and Tom Sherrington, a former director and founding member of HTRT, has worked with other executives ever since. developed a qualification more relevant to the IB than the Gove model.

The National Undergraduate will have a final qualification in 18 years and will include student results in the GCSE, A-levels and vocational qualifications, as well as other achievements in the arts, sports, project work and community service. Importantly, campaign participants believe, this would help minimize the division in status between academic and technical routes by combining them under one award.

“Young people’s educational careers are too specific in terms of collecting exam results, with too little regard for technical education, creative learning and personal development,” Sherrington says. “Many of those who are considered below the range of achievement are denied the opportunity to leave school with a good record of their successes and achievements, no matter how hard they work. We believe that successful education involves much more than that. ”

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The proposal, which was the subject of lengthy consultations with professionals, was published last week on the website Rethinking evaluationalmost 20 years after a similar idea for an diploma of full in 18developed by former Chief Inspector Ofsted Sir Mike Tomlinson, was rejected by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But after the saga of abolishing exams, failed algorithms and conflicting teacher assessments during the pandemic, and growing concerns about how exams dominate the education system, some campaigners are trying to go faster than the new qualification, which still includes GCSE and A-levels.

Tory MP and chairman of the Electoral Committee on Education, Robert Halfonproposed to completely abolish the GCSE and replace them with a bachelor’s degree in 18 years. Peter Hymana former counselor on Downing Street and now co-director of the Big Education Academy Trust, has called for a final “transcript” of the student that would give credit for a range of projects and skills throughout school life.

The Conservative group One Nation also supports the idea of ​​an undergraduate degree and believes that it will help align the government’s agenda. Conservative MP Flick Dramand said she did not believe the existing curriculum met the goals.

“We need to have a 14-18 curriculum with one set of exams / grades at the end, at 18, that would include both academic and professional qualifications, including apprenticeship, and give young people a broad portfolio that can be presented at the next stage whether it is a university or a job, ”she said.

“I am particularly concerned that we are placing so much emphasis on passing exams that do not attract young people. They should be relevant and useful. By waiting until age 18 to evaluate young people, they will have the maturity to understand the importance of what they do, and we need to make sure that professional qualifications are considered on a par with academic ones. ”

Sherrington believes that the time for the complete abolition of the GCSE has not yet come. “An undergraduate degree is a really good way to talk about exams, because you don’t have to talk in binary terms about having them or not. You can include them in a broader award that evaluates students in other ways. And have far fewer exams that are not so high rates. ”

At Wood Green School, Shadbolt agrees that the first step will be to build an undergraduate framework around what schools are already doing. “We enroll all learning and personal development in our school, but we welcome external accreditation that values ​​a wider range of attributes as well as unified academic and vocational qualifications. The government’s commitment to this would be such a transformational step forward for schools. “

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