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A licence to kill off exam boredom

Iraq, March 19, 2003. Somewhere north of Baghdad, a burning helicopter gunship is about to make a secret drop. Britain's deadliest agent has been sent to "take out" Saddam Hussein. He has just 45 minutes to save the world ...

This, or something like it, could soon be creeping into exam scripts as GCSE syllabuses face the biggest shake-up for 20 years. History candidates will be expected to answer questions such as, "What is the significance of the Iraq war?" Candidates sitting media studies could be asked to analyse stunts from James Bond films. If nothing else, the changes should produce a rich new crop of exam howlers. No, Osama Bin Laden did not say, "Do I look like I give a damn?" It was Bond, James Bond.

Teachers are certain to seize upon the changes as an opportunity to engage their pupils and reinvigorate their subjects. Geographers will be able to debate the merits of sustainability and the effects of climate change, while drama students will be able to specialise in backstage activities such as lighting, or costume and set design.

Inevitably, die-hard traditionalists will claim the changes are dumbing down the curriculum. But the alternative is a syllabus which becomes increasingly backward looking and of ever-diminishing relevance to children in an ever-changing world.

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