Science GCSE dilution

It seems that fewer and fewer people are taking separate science GCSEs [link], and so the reaction of the JCQ is to make the papers easier.

To me, it seems that they have missed the problem a little.  Presently (as far as I am aware), it is required that KS4 pupils take some kind of science-based GCSE qualification.  It also seems that taking a single “science” GCSE (or sometimes double award), is more popular than taking three individual science papers (biology, chemistry, and physics for the arts students out there Wink).  My younger brother has just selected his GCSE options for the coming two years, and I was appalled that his school didn’t even bother to offer the option of separate sciences (in addition to a stupidly constructed option system that was clearly designed with ease of timetabling in mind, rather than the proper education of students).

So, assuming that we ignore that the problem lies with the schools’ reticence to have properly flexible option systems, making already easy exams easier truly is not the answer.  I’ll grant, that they’ll probably see an increase in people taking it, but that will only be because they see it as an easy pass; not because they actually have an interest in the subject.  The JCQ is only shooting itself in the foot, as this sort of attitude will see already poor A-Level figures plummet (imho), when the students interested in an easy pass will take their mediocre grades and ignore doing the A-Level in favour of a soft, insipid subject like Media Studies.

Personally, I believe that the correct course of action would be to make the syllabi more bloody interesting in the first place.  Recalling from Chemistry, I had to suffer through the geology material on no fewer than three occasions (and once more in A-Level).  Teach the little nippers (I finally consider myself old enough to use that term – one of the perks of being old) something interesting: the rudiments of organic chemistry, perhaps, with all the nice smells and explosions; complex chemistry, with the pretty colours and really funky goop (I’m still not sure how I managed to make that); anything but rocks!

I’ll step off my soapbox now.