Exams are meant to indicate to industry the skills of the workforce. The role of these tests, whether we like it or not, are to create a hierarchy of students. This hierarchy helps discern which level of career/ job that person may be capable of in the future.
Except they kinda stopped working a while back and no-one understands how to fix them really. Why did they stop working? Well, first teachers got good at teaching the exams and did what the government asked and got more than half the population a better than average grade. I know, right, how does that work – well, it doesn’t and that is the problem. Second, the government kept changing things to fix the first problem – to the point where no-one is taking an exam that looks similar to another exam that is meant to be in the same subject.
Are you following this? Nope – and yes – this is the real problem that requires a solution.
But, we should change exams because they are broken, we should change them because the world is different know. Specialised knowledge is out-of-date. No-one is going to have a single career in their lifetime anymore. People are going to have multiple roles, needing multiple skillsets. Therefore, industry needs to have an understanding how well people think, adapt, are creative, are problem-solvers, are can-doers, will think beyond the obvious… and other such soft skills.
This means there is a strong argument from moving away from specialised examinations in Maths, English, Geography, etc. to examinations that test the thinking skills, including creativity and flexibility, communication and numeracy.
The argument is easily won if you look to how the government is itself divided. You do not have the Secretary of State for Science, or Maths, or English… You have the Secretary of State of Health, or Transport, or International relations.
Only once the examination system is reorganised into testing more relevant criteria will the schools be able to restructure in a way that means knowledge and skill isn’t artificially segregated. Once this happens, students will be taught relevant skills, content, understanding and ways of thinking that will prepare them for the future – whatever that may be. The industrial sector in turn will receive thought leaders, as opposed to drones well drilled in English and Maths and little else.