Despite issues like Brexit and knife crime being high priorities for the government at this moment in time, there’s also another issue that should be looked at by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Although the education sector has already been reformed with the 9-1 GCSE grade format, there are further changes that need to be made in order to give students exactly what they need for when they leave school.

As a student, I always dreaded the thought of doing written exams. There were plenty of those exams to sit during both GCSEs and A-Levels. What I learnt from sitting all of those exams is that it’s not about what you know, but how well you remember it.

There’s never a real chance to show exactly what you can do in a certain subject if you just sit written exams. Knowing the content is just 50% of the exam, whilst the other 50% is knowing how to answer the question to get the marks. The government needs to take action on subject specifications that are mainly written-exam based.

These specifications contain exactly what you need to know for the exam. If it isn’t in the specification, the exam board aren’t able to ask you about it. This has allowed so many GCSE students in the past to ‘wing’ their exam. I’m not saying GCSEs are easy, especially now they’ve become even harder now with the 9-1 format. However, are written exams fit for purpose in a world that is becoming increasingly digital?

Coursework can be hugely beneficial to students who want to build up a portfolio to show potential employers. Website-hosting platforms like Wix and WordPress can be used for free by anyone, including students. It’s time to make the most of these types of tools that allow young people to get their work out there. At the end of some people’s GCSEs, all they have to show for their work is a collection of grades on a piece of paper.

Part of the reason that some young people fall behind in their working lives is because they don’t have any sort of work that can be proudly shown to potential future employers. Some people wonder why teenagers get so stressed over their exams, though I can’t help but wonder why. They define people when there’s a whole lot more to a person than a collection of grades.

Anxiety is now so well-known and spoken about, and exams cause so much of this. Whilst I think some of these exams are good for building perseverance, braveness, and mental toughness, too many exams can send a lot of students over the edge. 

This is another reason why written exams may no longer be fit for purpose.

As well as having more of a focus on building portfolios, there should also be more of a focus on creating CVs, and practicing interview skills. Although this was something that was touched on briefly in my secondary school, I feel like there’s not enough emphasis placed on these skills which are vital if you stand the best possible chance of getting a job.

Even though the creating of CVs, cover letters, and practicing interview skills aren’t linked to a particular subject, it could form as part of something that goes towards a final GCSE grade in subjects like Business Studies and Citizenship. 

Schools are always talking about getting students ready for the future. Is it time for students to gain the vital skills they will need to secure a job?

Having these skills will then allow students to use this to gain work placement opportunities. Students in Year 10 (in the UK) usually undertake a week of work experience.

With all this work experience, young people will be able to show this off on their CV. However, their CV isn’t the only place they can display this. LinkedIn is a work-related site that should be used by as many people as possible. It’s a brilliant website which allows young people to connect with people who are already experience in the field.

Why is there no emphasis on the use of LinkedIn by those in the education sector? Not only can it allow pupils to show what they can do in this online environment, but it can also inspire them with the connections they can make.

It really is time for a reform in the education sector but this doesn’t just mean more funding. There needs to be a greater emphasis on the future of students. Less written exams and more of a focus on the vital skills the students actually need will vastly benefit young people in schools. 

Gavin Williamson and Boris Johnson, make that change as soon as possible!

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