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Friday, August 20, 2010

Exam results time

Yes it's that time of year when the media is full of pictures of our little darlings celebrating passing their GCSE and A levels.
Every year the pass rate goes up and up,and every year we hear the same old story that the exams are not being dumbed down. Yeah right.
I've worked with a few of the "brighter" students and I'm staggered by two things.
One is their lack of knowledge, their lack of basic grammatical and numerical skills. In short, even the bright ones can't read or write or spell.
Secondly, I'm amazed at their arrogance. They believe the hype and publicity. They honestly believe that they are somehow superior to the rest of us. I've also had the misfortune of employing a few university graduates. Their arrogance is multiplied tenfold and their usefulness diminished by the same factor.
All those years of sitting in classrooms and they're unemployable.
And that's the bright ones.

The Daily Mail recently ran an article with some 11+ Arithmetic from the 1950s:

Read the following:

1. 3,755 is multiplied by 25 and the result is divided by 125. Write down the answer.

2. A motorist leaves home at 10.15am and drives at 32 miles per hour. He stops for lunch from noon to 1.45pm and then continues his journey at 30 miles per hour. How many miles has he travelled by 5pm?

3. An aeroplane uses 100 gallons of petrol for a flight of 150 miles. How far could it fly using 40 gallons?

4. Write in figures: twelve thousand and twelve.

5. A race started at 23 minutes past three and finished at 23 minutes to four. How long did it take?

6. Simplify:

a) 1,000 - 10

b) 25 x 12

c) 615 divided by 3

d) 0.5 + 0.75

e) The fractions 4/5 - 7/10

7. Of 800 people living in a village, half are men and half women. A quarter of the men leave the village to join the army. How many more women then men now remain?

8. Multiply 7,296 by 479.

9. Which of these numbers is divisible by 4 without any remainder: 214, 230, 226, 224, 218?

10. Add all the odd numbers between 12 and 20.

Read more:

Understandably, only the very best could pass that exam at the age of eleven. But then the Grammar Schools were only interested in the very best. The Grammar Schools provided school leavers who went on to run industry, the Civil Service, and even to run the country.
I left school just as the changes were introduced that have destroyed this country's educational standards. First of all, they abolished the 11+ exam, saying that it created inequality.
Bollocks! It identified the bright and separated them from the also rans. That's not inequality. That's affirming the undeniable fact that we are not all created the same. Some people are more intelligent than others. Fact.
Then they abolished streaming in schools.
When I went to Grammar School, it soon became apparent that even among us brighter ones, some were brighter than others. They were moved into the top ability stream and took their O Levels a full year earlier than the others. That meant that they could take their A levels one year earlier and get into university one year earlier. If you were a bright pupil the last thing the school wanted was to slow you down.
Now look at it. All the kids are mixed up together. The Educational experts say that this gives everyone an equal chance when the opposite is true. The bright kids are held back by the duffers, and the duffers get frustrated because they can't keep up. So you get two sets of bored and disaffected students, both the bright and the thick. My son hated school. He couldn't wait to leave. He was frustrated by the inability and unwillingness of the school staff and management to control the unruly elements. He was bored. He'd turn up late and sit at the back. He wouldn't do his homework. And he wouldn't revise for his GCSE exams.
He still achieved ten passes.
So how come?
Here's a link to a 2009 modular maths exam paper.
And another one

Have a look at them. Then have another look at the 1950s 11+ exam questions. Remember that calculators weren't invented back then, so all calculations had to be shown on the paper.

It seems to me that the 2009 questions aren't that different from the 1950s 11+ questions.

Now tell me that educational standards haven't declined.

Visit this website to view more old exam papers.

H/T to Old Holborn

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