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Isn’t it time that GCSE and ‘A’ level exams were held in the Spring Term?

(18 Posts)
OldMeg Mon 03-Sep-18 07:49:11

How many of us have grandchildren who have suffered through GCSEs and ‘A’ levels in this heat wave?

And it’s nothing new. I remember sitting in a vast hall behind a wall of glass windows sweltinging, in June, when I sat my ‘O’ levels.

Then there’s the wait for results and wondering if you’ll have the grades you need to go on to the Uni of your choice.

How much more sensible if these exams were held in the cooler Spring Term, the students could get their results earlier and apply to Higher or Further Education institutions with their results known.

Greenfinch Mon 03-Sep-18 07:57:55

I agree to a certain extent especially as my GD suffers from hay fever with itchy eyes etc. but what would the students do in the Summer term?Precious little I would imagine.

absent Mon 03-Sep-18 08:02:28

Our seasons are a little bit different in New Zealand and our children have four terms a year, which tends to even things out a bit. (Except the 6–7 week Christmas holidays from the end of December to the beginning of February – during the height of summer.)

OldMeg Mon 03-Sep-18 08:17:11

Greenfinch that could easily be addressed either by community work or getting a seasonal job to help pay their tuition fees. Or visiting the prospective Unis to see what’s on offer.

That needn’t be a problem.

Absent there has been talk of having 4 (or at one time 6) terms here in the UK, but nothing came of it.

Greenfinch Mon 03-Sep-18 08:26:00

At the school my grandchildren attend they do have six terms but in reality nothing has changed. The only difference is that each term is divided by a week's holiday rather than two days which they used to have and everyone still calls it half term anyway.

OldMeg Mon 03-Sep-18 08:34:25

The proposals for 6 terms Greenfinch were more than that. It was suggested that rather than the half-term scenario you mention, there would be a clear 2-week break between terms.

Like everything else a lot of money was spend investigating 4, 5 and 6 week school years but nothing materialised.

I believe Easter was a major stumbling block. Easter Sunday is traditionally held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox!!! So it can be quite a moveable feast literally.

Allegretto Mon 03-Sep-18 08:41:30

A level courses are intensive. I don’t believe the content could be squeezed into a shorter period of time, to allow exams to be earlier. If content were to be reduced, the validity of the qualifications would be compromised.

OldMeg Mon 03-Sep-18 08:49:49

The ‘content’ of A levels are being changed constantly. In my own subject, Science, there is no reason that the curriculum cannot be delivered within a reduced time frame. In fact with the recent reduction in course work, as opposed to testing by exam, it would work quite well. This certainly applies in other subjects too where there is minimal reliance on course work, which previously did take up a lot of student and teacher hours.

hillwalker70 Mon 03-Sep-18 08:55:37

Surely you would have to change the academic year to do that, it would shorten the number of weeks to acquire knowledge. I would love to see GCSE in Horticulture, this is an interesting and useful subject and a good career choice, but I suppose it would mean getting your hands dirty and you might even meet a worm, to much for today’s snowflakes.

Greenfinch Mon 03-Sep-18 09:21:42

I taught History and RE and you definitely need a full two years to read widely around the subjects and develop a mature approach with in-depth understanding.

Cabbie21 Mon 03-Sep-18 09:31:17

In languages too, the longer the course, the better.

In France they manage to get results out before the summer holiday. Mind you, unless the system has changed, students have automatic right of a university place once they had their Baccalaureat. There are separate entrance exams for the more prestigious Grandes Ecoles.

Melanieeastanglia Mon 03-Sep-18 10:58:24

I think something could be worked out. If students knew their results early enough, they could take "re-sits" if necessary as papers could be prepared in advance for this purpose.

I realise it's different but people who fail a driving test often take another one only a short while later.

They could perhaps start studying the next year's work.

Some joined-up thinking will be needed.

annodomini Mon 03-Sep-18 11:11:56

Scottish exams are earlier - over by the end of May. But they do start the school year in August. Swings and roundabouts, I think. One advantage of the Scottish system is that students know their results in good time to have their Uni applications confirmed or make other arrangements.
60 years ago, they were even earlier. I can't forget sitting Higher Latin, ironically, on the Ides of March (15th).

OldMeg Mon 03-Sep-18 11:48:29

Point proven then anno ....where there’s a will.

annodomini Mon 03-Sep-18 11:58:58

After the Highers I took in 5th Year, we had a term to get our teeth into the next year's work - I had two more Highers to do. After we finished in 6th year, I had a lot of help from my Classics and English teachers with my 1st year Uni texts.

OldMeg Mon 03-Sep-18 12:04:54

That’s a very good point anno ...if GCSE were done and dusted by Easter then that term could be put to good use by starting A level courses.

SueDonim Mon 03-Sep-18 12:44:40

In the Scottish school my dds attended the summer term was unofficially the start of the next school year, so their new classes were begun in May, much as Anno says.

Jalima1108 Mon 03-Sep-18 13:12:59

Our seasons are a little bit different in New Zealand and our children have four terms a year, which tends to even things out a bit. (Except the 6–7 week Christmas holidays from the end of December to the beginning of February – during the height of summer.
The same in Australia and four terms seems to be a very sensible idea - instead of half-terms they have two-week breaks between terms apart from the Christmas holidays, the same as in NZ.

Perhaps if we changed our school year to run from January to December as they do in Australia and NZ then that would solve the problem.