Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wrong to prepare children for exams? What's changed then?

This morning in the news there have been claims that teachers were given information on how to best help their students pass exams. 

The allegations have been made by the Telegraph, who sent under cover reporters to seminars run by exam boards and attended by teachers. 

The way the articles have been written, one might read into them that teachers essentially bribed exam board officials for information about exams, when in actual fact these were legitimate seminars run by the exam boards, where only some of the content has been seen as questionable. 

 Now, I haven't sat exams for twenty years or so, but hasn't this always been the case? As far as I'm aware, students have always, for instance, been given test papers to work on to help them better prepare for their upcoming exams.  And there has always been a level of coaching in terms of the best way to answer specific questions in order that students be able to obtain the best grades possible. 

Nobody is saying that children should be given their exam papers upfront and told how to answer the questions.  But that is not what appears to be happening here.  The fact that children may be being equipped to answer their exam papers in the best way possible so as to achieve the best result can surely only be seen as a good thing.   Or would the telegraph prefer that our children were set up to fail?

What we have to remember here is that we're not talking about children having attended a seminar run by the exam boards - these are teachers.  Teachers whose job it is to teach our children, and to prepare them for their upcoming exams, exams that will possibly give them a start into further education, the results of which may actually determine the quality of further education those children will qualify for. 

If we trust those teachers to teach our children in the best way they know how, then we surely also trust them to help those children by giving them guidance on the best way to answer certain questions in an exam, should those questions arise.  Just because a child is told that "this is the best way to word x question should it come up," doesn't mean that the teacher is telling those children what the question is.  After all studying for an exam is preparing for any eventual question, and knowing the best way in which to answer it.  That hasn't changed and surely never will. 

I don’t see why children shouldn’t be given the best tools to achieve the best results.  And I don’t see why knowing the best way in which to answer a question (should that question come up) is such a bad thing.  Neither can I understand why it is seen as bad for children to achieve the best possible results with the best coaching prior to their exams.

1 comment:

  1. If a teacher is doing their job properly and delivering a balanced curriculum there should be no need to 'teach to a test'. Obviously when we get to GCSE AND A-Level we expect teachers to give pupils all the help they can get in exams.