Too Old for Modern Times: GCSEs Fail to Prepare Children for the World of Tomorrow

Society has changed a great deal since both exams and the curriculum were designed, and it is high time for the overhaul in GSCEs, which are failing to prepare children for the modern world (according to a new report by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), where the country’s most prestigious public schools, including Eton College, Harrow and Winchester are represented). The current school curriculum is deemed to be outdated and in danger of becoming irrelevant.

Historically, many private schools opted for IGCSEs because they saw GCSEs as too easy and not sufficient preparation for A-Levels. However, in an attempt to make GCSEs more rigorous, ministers only reformed the qualifications by removing most coursework and introducing a numerical grading system.

Now, in order to shape an education system that reflects the needs of 21st century Britain, private school heads are calling for a restructure of the entire system – both GCSEs and IGCSEs – on the grounds that both have become outdated and no longer serve the needs of students. 

As reported by the HMC: “The acquisition of knowledge and learning skills are clearly important, but more emphasis needs to be given to physical and mental health, alongside data and digital literacy, oracy, social and environmental skills, critical thinking and opportunities that encourage the development of ethical understanding, curiosity, creativity, and a love of learning.”

Furthermore, the report points out that far more is known now about the teenage brain than when GCSEs were first introduced, arguing that neuroscientists should also be involved in designing new qualifications to replace them. [By the way, have you read our article ARE YOU SURE YOU KNOW YOUR BRAIN?]

So, how does Cherwell overcome the perceived threat of an outdated school curriculum?

Here, at Cherwell College Oxford, we endeavour to provide an all-round education for our students. 

Cherwell’s adaptability and bespoke approach to education, delivered via a quintessentially Oxbridge tutorial method of teaching reflected in one-to-one tuition & small group seminars, assists the College in nurturing and developing the individual student’s potential to the full. 

Individual tutorial coverage goes beyond the syllabus and allows students to take a deeper dive into exploring a subject, focusing on their individual interests, be it in coding or vaccine development. The tutorials are then supported by engaging discussions in small seminar groups to exchange ideas with peers and revise topics in an intellectually stimulating environment, to gain a better perspective and understanding of the subject matter. 

An inherent part of the student experience at Cherwell (be it a day or a boarding student) is the College’s enrichment programme. We are proud to provide AI masterclasses to enlighten young minds and introduce them to the fast-paced and developing world of AI & modern IT technologies, we offer debate clubs and the fully-fledged membership of the Oxford Union, where the students participate in open talks & lectures. In addition, throughout the academic year, students enjoy educational and cultural tours and visits, and are always welcome to join sports and incentive programmes, as well as student-led clubs. 

Being responsive to the needs of different students and keeping attuned to the current day trends and developments, we aim to provide our students with a relevant education which promotes a breadth of knowledge, skills and insights, necessary for young people to thrive in the ever-changing modern world. Join us!