There seems to be some sort of impression that my view of education is limited to acquiring formal qualifications such as GCSEs. This is not at all true. I see education for children as something which prepares them for a satisfying life and opens as many opportunities as possible for them in their adult life. Being happy, having emotional stability and strong family relationships are part of this education. Inculcating a love of learning is also very important. This can be done by example and by what Roland Meighan describes as "purposive conversation." All this is quite true and formed an integral part of my own daughter's education. Another strand of this education inevitably involved studying for GCSEs.
Some of those who have left comments on my previous posts seem to imagine that I am obsessed with higher education or with children needing GCSEs to get jobs. It is a little more complicated than that. I was actually obsessed with making sure that my daughter had as many options as possible and that she did not restrict her life chances too early on in her life. For instance, she was very keen on ballet and music as a child. For a while, it looked as if that was the direction her life would take. This would have been absolutely fine with me, but I still wanted to keep open her options. For this reason, we studied a variety of academic subjects in addition to music and dance. At some point, she decided that she would prefer to focus upon creative writing and English; an interest which she still maintains. This did not mean dropping music or mathematics. We continued studying a wide range of subjects. This is just as well, because later on, she discovered that the universities which interested her were always impressed with A level Mathematics.
The point that I am making is that neither of us could possibly have known which direction her interests would ultimately take. I was very surprised when she decided to take A level Mathematics. In the event, she decided to go to college to study for A levels in Mathematics, English Literature, History and Government and Politics. This would not have been possible had she not taken and passed at least some GCSEs. People talk casually of presenting a portfolio of work instead of taking GCSEs and that is fine; if one wishes to study Art, Photography, Textile Design or Musical theatre. Try getting onto an A level course in Physics, Mathematics, History or Chemistry without GCSEs and you will be in for a shock. In other words, had I not encouraged her to continue studying a range of subjects to GCSE, she would be unable to pursue the life she wishes now.
We can debate whether or not it should be so, but those parents who don't arrange for their children to take GCSEs are actually making choices for their children, choices which will limit their opportunities in later life. A child of eleven may not much feel like studying physics to GCSE level, it is true. He may not plan to take A levels; my own daughter did not. But if at the age of sixteen he wishes to go to college and study for A levels, that early disinclination will come back to haunt him.
It is our job as parents to give our children the greatest possible range of options in their lives. Deciding not to enter them for GCSEs closes off a wide range of these options at an early age. many parents talk vaguely of their children being able to take GCSEs later if they wish. These are usually the parents who have not realised just how horribly restricted Further Education Colleges have become in recent years. It cannot be right for us as parents to close off avenues to our children in this way unless we have very sound reasons for doing so.