As you will all probably know by now, StudentVoice Member Mana Muhthar attended the Westminster Education Forum Keynote Seminar about “The future for GCSEs - structure, content and implementation” on November 21st. Thank you to the Westminster Education Forum for giving Mana the opportunity to be a speaker in the Keynote Seminar.

Here is a transcript of her brilliant speech:

Reforming GCSEs - structure, content and rigour Mana Muhthar, Member, StudentVoice

"Hello. My names Mana Muhthar and I'm a Year 10 pupil at Corelli College and I'm a member of student voice and I'm here to talk about the new GCSE structure, which most of you are aware the Government is reforming, and this is something that I'm quite passionate because it affects me.

The Government has said that too many pupils are getting the top grades of As and A*s, exams are becoming increasingly easier and this is leading to grade inflation. They now think that they have found a solution to this problem, Mr Gove has said young people deserve an education system that can compete with the best in the world. Now undoubtedly young people deserve this education system Mr Gove talks about, but we don’t deserve a system that’s foundation is built on competing with others, that teachers are simply how to memorise facts and move on. We want an education system that’s foundation is built up on teaching us the best skills and knowledge that encourages us to take our education further in life, and can give us what we need for the future of our society.

Now the Government think that the best way to assess a child’s knowledge is to make them memorise subjects and then regurgitate them in an exam. Now if this is how things become, students won't get a well-rounded education, there will be no development projects, task management, team skills or key life skills, just facts and exams, is that education? Getting rid of controlled assessments won't make this happen, we have a good system that gives us something to fall back on if we’re ill, having a bad day, miss the exam for any reason, we’re human and these things do happen and it's not fair to have this support taken away from us.

I've already started my English GCSE controlled assessment and by the time the reform comes into action, will all of my hard work even matter? Maybe this question has already been answered but if I'm not clear on this answer and I've been sitting in this Forum, then I'm sure my peers will be just as, or even more, clueless. My reason for saying this is, I just want everyone to understand how scary these changes are to us students.

Now I did some research and found that 20% of speaking and listening was taken away and this is an extremely key skill for getting into the university of choices, or getting a job and I believe they didn’t think about this when they made this decision. All they saw was figures that in 1998 8% of the students got As or A*s and in 2010 22 years later, 22% of the students got an A or A* so they obviously didn’t study harder, they didn’t study more, they didn’t try harder, it was due to grade inflation. And even if you believe this, how is it fair to put students down and tell them that all these years of studying and achieving better, it's been false, it's been due to grade inflation, how is it then that you expect them to achieve better if you make it harder and put them down?

The education system, you don’t get as far as you could with just GCSE grades, you need work experience, the best CV, learning how to how to present yourself in an interview, you need to be able to apply skills and knowledge. The move to linear will cut out students who learn differently and will prevent those accessing GCSE qualifications. At present the GCSE courses are inclusive, they enable students to access the routes they need to become as successful as possible.

In Year 9, I did a GCSE Geography exam and I was not confident, but I found that doing my coursework, it did make me more confident, it wasn’t easy, it was hard but having that contextual knowledge, it made me understand the topic so much better. It gave me something to fall back on when I was ill during my exam, and for this reason and for so many more I've mentioned, I don’t think we need to reform the GCSEs, at least not the way Michael Gove is suggesting.

Thank you for listening."

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