Do away with exams

Keith Hudson

We’re now in the absurd situation whereby 60% of university graduates can’t get decent jobs in their first year and many of them end up in dumb jobs  anyway.  A 14 year-old could do these jobs and many of them would . . . love to because by that age they’re almost totally alienated from school.  At the same time, the job structure is changing in advanced countries towards much higher skill jobs on the one hand and much lower skill jobs on the other.  The state is attempting to justify its present policies by encouraging credentialising for all those in between the dull and the bright.

To partially square the circle, the sensible thing to do would be to reduce the school-leaving age to 14 for all those who want to leave instead of raising it to 18 as is now happening.  The Labour Party and the Tory Party, both under the control of Oxbridge types who’ve never done a day’s work in their lives and are making the mistake of introjecting their aspirations into everybody else — including those14 year olds who actually want to leave school.

Lord (Kenneth) Baker who, when Minister of Education from 1986 to 1989 brought about a new series of exams for 16 years olds now wants to scrap them and bring in another set for 18 year olds.  Surely we’ve had enough of exams by now!  It’s a far too competitive a situation for most — for those who cannot make up their mind what they’d like to do, and far too soon for the greater competition awaiting them in life itself.  For high flyers, their progress in life will not be largely dependent on exams but on continual assessment by others.  The more brilliant the individual the more he is likely to proceed on the basis on friendship and discusion with mentors and sponsors.

To square the circle completely I would therefore recommend an intelligent test at 14 years of age.  For the brighter students who want to move faster, then the tests can be taken at earlier ages.  Those who stay on at school should have no more exams but take as wide a choice of modules as they wish according to the subject matter and the personalities of the respective teachers.  Some students — particuarly these dahys — take a long while before homing in on the jobs they’d like to do or choose from the jobs available.

All universities should be given a once and for all endowment and sink or swim thereafter depending on the quality of their graduates (who can become donors later depending on their gratitude) and on fees from employers (which should rightfully have been doing the education job themselves before the state took over in the 19th century during its imperialistic phase).

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