Sunday, 29 January 2012

Stage not Age

A recent media story has been producing some interesting conversations amongst educationalists. Basically it's about a class of 12/13 year olds at the Winifred Holtby School in Hull taking their GCSE English examination more than three years early.

Many schools enter students for exams one years early. This particular English teacher recognised that this one class of students were 'unique' within the school, producing work way above their age expected standards. The fact that twenty six of them achieved A's, B'S or C's at GCSE despite their supports this view. Whilst a few may retake their exams (four got D's) the other have already started GCSE English Literature with the expectations of starting 'A Level' courses two years early at age 14/15. Fantastic.
And why not? I am a real supporter of students being able to do things, new courses, projects and exams, when they are ready, not only when they reach some specific age set arbitrarily. It is all about 'stage not age', - if they are motivated and an do it, why shouldn't they? It may be administratively inconvenient, but that's an organisational issue.
Some comments under the story have referred to the fact that they may all have got 'A's' if they had waited until they were sixteen - a more usual age for taking GCSE examinations. But if they mature enough and are capable of doing and understanding the work now, why would you ask them to wait for three years. This success may well motivate them to do more and even better, thereby becoming more aspirational about their learning and plans for the future.
Asking them to wait for years for no legitimate or logical reason is far more likely to demotivate and demoralise them. Why would anyone want to do that?
So, a massive well done to the students and well done to the school for having the confidence to allow students to learn when they are ready, not wait until they hit random age targets!
To read the full story click here.

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