Schools produce exam robots, says CBI chief

The Times is reporting the head of the CBI as saying Michael Gove’s school reforms risk squeezing out a rounded education by focusing too much on exam results…

John Cridland told The Times that many schools produced pupils who were “exam robots” with little to encourage heads to offer broad extra-curricular opportunities.

Business leaders wanted more focus from schools on creativity, curiosity, tenacity, self-confidence and good manners, as well as high academic standards, he said.

He criticised the Government’s changes to post-16 vocational qualifications as “a fog” and said he was confused by the plans.

Mr Cridland welcomed the thrust of Mr Gove’s reforms to GCSEs and A levels, which seek to add tougher content and more stretching end-of-course exams.

However, he said they failed to connect to broader “rounded and grounded” qualities sought by businesses in young people. They wanted more emphasis on character-building to foster qualities such as determination, optimism and emotional intelligence.

By focusing too much on academic results, the Department for Education (DfE) risked shifting focus and resources within schools away from sport, performing arts, trips and clubs, he said.

“It has got more difficult for schools. I think what he has done is necessary but not sufficient,” Mr Cridland said. “He should talk about rigour and we should be more rigorous and he has my vote to do that. If all you do is talk about rigour then the rounded and grounded-ness gets squeezed out.”

…Mr Cridland also criticised the Government for removing a requirement on schools to offer work experience for pupils at 15 or 16 and for making schools responsible for career guidance without extra funds or support to do it well…

More at:  Schools produce exam robots, says CBI chief (subscription required)

Your thoughts on John Cridland’s concerns? Is it realistic to achieve the increased rigour he supports plus all the other qualities such as confidence, creativity and manners? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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  1. LearnWLesley

    SchoolsImprove whitehall want robots so that they accept everything and question nothing – a compliant population that is easy to control .

  2. Janet2

    The OECD Economic Survey: UK (2011) said the excessive emphasis on raw test results in England risked negative consequences including teaching to the test, “gaming” and neglecting other skills.  The OECD cited Contextual Value Added (then a feature of league tables) as a step in the right direction for judging schools.
    So, what did our SoS, who allegedly prides himself on his “evidence-based” policies, do?  He dropped CVA, upped the stress on exam results (ie increased benchmarks, forced conversion on to schools where pupils don’t reach…), and throws the exam system into chaos with his ill-judged, hastily introduced “reforms” which run counter to systems in most of the developed world where there aren’t high-stakes tests at 16.

  3. temcterrier1977

    SchoolsImprove schools can’t really win can they? Cbi and ofsted criticise schools for exam practice yet school success built on results?

  4. FunAdultCourses

    temcterrier1977 SchoolsImprove then parents only want A*, and send children for tutoring so forgetting all the other important things.

  5. yangtze2000

    terryfish DotLepkowska SchoolsImprove If teachers and managers stand or fall by exam results, then exam results become all that matters.

  6. VictoriaJaquiss

    SchoolsImprove Shame we have to wait for CBI to make the case for us. Now they have, Gove Move over. Sack Ofsted, sack SATs, sack yourself.

  7. Sirhornet

    RealGeoffBarton SchoolsImprove CBItweets Schools have become data factories with teaching geared to producing data, not educating.

  8. KumonHaleBarns

    RealGeoffBarton SchoolsImprove CBItweets totally agree here – schools shld teach kids the efficient way to solve probs, not the exam way

  9. KumonHaleBarns

    LearnWLesley SchoolsImprove never looked at it that way before – but this is why it is imp to let kids exp things for themselves!!

  10. temcterrier1977

    clivepivo SchoolsImprove correct. But schools will operate within which ever success criteria is set up to measure success.

  11. riverstour

    SchoolsImprove Cridland right to question government reform of voc quals. Unwanted changes based on Wolf’s flawed report.

  12. ThorleyW

    SchoolsImprove Dyslexia_NE that’s funny a lot of my teacher friends have been saying the same for more than a decade…….

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