I am, at times, decidedly cynical about politicians and their edicts. I am essentially a left-winger but struggle to identify with Labour in its present guise. Generally I find myself grating against most things that come out of a large proportion of politicians’ mouths.
However, I find myself agreeing with a very sensible stance from a Tory MP, Neil O’Brien. This, I actually find refreshingly jarring.
In short, he believes that kids who don’t get their 4+ in GCSE maths and English shouldn’t have to constantly resit and resit ad infinitum until their self-esteem is so low, it could be mined in Australia. It seems that Mr O’Brien has joined up with a potentially revolutionary campaign: the #FullyFunctional campaign, that would see young people with GCSE 3 or below funded to do functional skills qualifications rather than GCSEs over and over again.
What a thoroughly sensible idea!
This is a nod to the notion that not all success looks like higher GCSEs, A levels and then University. Sometimes it can be different. Some people don’t suit GCSEs and perform better when maths and English are contextualised and tangible. Some people just don’t like or shine in exams. Whatever the reason, there needs to be acknowledgement (from above) of another way forward that isn’t academic for those who… aren’t academic.
The social and psychological effects of continually taking the same set of exams without an opt out clause cannot be good for young people. Mr O’Brien seems to have found that and started making more inclusive, diverse noises about what career pathways can look like, whilst concurrently showing humility and awareness of student’s mental health.
Let’s hope that more people listen and actually do something about this. It’s a sensible idea so I don’t know whether to hold my breath though…