Are GCSE grades C good enough?

It really amazes me to see how so many young people are achieving GCSE grades that are below what they are capable of.  Yes, there has been a gradual improvement in the number of students who achieve at least five grades A* to C and also at A level passes. The reality is that too many young people are still not achieving high grades in subjects that the society value - such as English, Maths, Languages, History and Sciences. It is good to see that many schools are moving away from the concept of "a GCSE C grade is good enough." Until recently, too much emphasis was being placed on students just achieving a C grade at GCSE level. It has meant that the very able young people who should be aiming for A and A* grades were not been stretched enough. Too many in this category are put in a  mixed ability set and the fact that they could not be challenged make them bored and leads to all sort of other evils.

One issue that I believe is at the core of this problem is teacher's expectation. It is hard for a child to achieve higher than what the teacher thing of him or her as the perception of the student usually determines the level of intellectual stimulation provided for the student

I once met a father, who came to see me about what he perceived as a lack of satisfactory progress i n school by his daughter. He told me a little story about a visit he made to her daughter's school to meet the teachers. In a meeting with the form teacher, he was indirectly expressing his wish for his daughter to finish secondary school and one day go to university. He happened to mention one of the universities she would like his daughter to gain admission to in the future. According to the this father, the teacher looked in his eyes and asked him if he has ever considered other options for his daughter apart from a  university education. She actually said perhaps she ought to do a B-Tech or something as opposed to A-level. The pupil in question was in year 8 at the time and her performance in Maths was bothering on Level 7, which puts her in the top bracket in Maths, meaning that she ought to be looking at an A grade in Maths when she does her GCSE a few years later. This young lady is certainly a university material. The teacher is the only one who failed to see this.

Teachers are supposed to play a motivating role, in encouraging young people to aim for the top and achieve to the best of their ability, and I would like to think that this is the case with most teachers. However, there is a significant percentage of teachers that are not very demanding of their pupils. The whole school environment at times is not very supportive aspirations and ambition and the management is quite have as long a a certain number of students achieve five GCSE grades Cs or better and the school meets its target, which is often set too low. There are other factors that prevent a student achieving to his or her full potential, such as a lack of support from the parent, the student not being so motivated and peer pressure. However, low expectation on the part of the teacher is one of the strongest factor.

This article has focussed on GCSE grades; however, it must be said that low expectation starts well before GCSE and also goes beyond it as it exists at every level of education.