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 Post subject: Exams
PostPosted: 10 Jun 2019, 19:53 
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As I am currently knee deep in marking A level exam papers (not literally, it is all online nowadays) I found myself wondering when the school starting sitting official UK exams. Were they doing it in the Tyrol? Or did it start up only when they moved to Plas Howell?

I also found myself thinking how different the CS attitude to school work is from modern attitudes. State schools nowadays are very much exam factories, with students who are considered to be underachieving made the focus of very intensive intervention. The Ozanne twins would be forced to work!

Anyway, back to A levels...

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 10 Jun 2019, 20:41 
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I think the first time they're mentioned is in Highland Twins, when Robin mentions that Elizabeth, Biddy and some of the others have passed their School Certificate. I assume that the people who went to university would have done the university in question's own entrance exam, at that time, even if they didn't do their School Certificate, but it's just not mentioned at all - only internal school exams.

Simone worries that her work won't be up to scratch for the Sorbonne, but she's only worrying about how she'll get on once she's there - there's no suggestion that she's taking any British, French, Austrian or any other public exams whilst she's still at school.

My school was a bit of an exam factory, but, like Miss Bubb, they wanted to give everyone the best chance of getting into a further education/training course. EBD's talking about Roger Richardson "putting his name down for university" as late as the mid-Swiss books - surely, as a teacher herself, she must have realised that people did actually have to do exams! And she misses a load of opportunities for new plots - the storyline with Alicia, the overconfident bully in Malory Towers, getting her come-uppance by being ill during the public exams is very EBD, but EBD never writes anything like that. I know no-one wants to read books full of exams, but they are quite a big part of school life!

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 10 Jun 2019, 20:42 
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I don't *think* the school entered pupils for School Certificate or similar during the Tyrol years - I know Juliet went to London University and Simone to the Sorbonne, but we don't hear that they even sat entrance exams for them.


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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 10 Jun 2019, 22:04 
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I'm going to add that I think that Marilyn Evans would thrive in the modern system instead of being the disaster she is considered to be at the CS!

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 10 Jun 2019, 23:02 
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And Miss Bubb might get a bit of praise for actually wanting people to get good exam results!

With all due respect to EBD, I think she tried to have her (cream) cake and eat it in the Swiss years. In the Tyrolean and British books, it's acknowledged that the CS is not that great academically, and that its selling points are other things. Fair enough, if you're someone like Gisela or Frieda and are never likely to be looking for a job. But in the Swiss books, by which time the idea of girls just "going home" after leaving school no longer applies, they're still abandoning work every time the weather's nice or they want to rehearse the nativity play, and no-one ever does much revision, and yet everyone sails into top universities and we keep being told that anyone coming from another school finds that the standards are very high. It's not very realistic. Apart from the odd genius who can pass everything with flying colours without doing any work, you can't have it both ways :lol: :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2019, 12:01 
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I think too that EBD wanted the school in Switzerland to be academic with no provision for the less able. The Ozannes and Emerence never make the sixth form which can't have pleased their parents. Marie von Eschenau, who is 'not clever' (no need to be well-born, beautiful and clever) manages to achieve sixth form.


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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2019, 14:19 
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I think they start public exams at some point after moving to Armiford. There is no mention of them in the Tyrol, and at that point it's not really that type of school - most of the girls go home, or study music, and the only ones who go to university are the 'true scholars' like Eustacia or Mary Burnett, and a few who are able to attend the CS, but have to support themselves later (Simone, Juliet). And imagine that in the the 30s, arranging for a UK exam centre abroad would have been complicated. In England, they do exams, and they also have the Special Sixth, which seems to provide coaching for girls who are preparing for university, or other specialized training.

I can understand Emerence not making the sixth form - she joins the school when she's almost fourteen, and is well behind her peers in academics and basic socialization. She's actually only held back once - she spends two years in Lower Fourth after she arrives, then progresses normally after that. The Ozannes and Dawbarns and Primrose make a lot less sense - they simply keep failing year after year, and no-one is particularly concerned. Prudence Dawbarn starts out in form with Mary Lou and ends up several years behind the triplets.

In the Swiss years, I'd describe the school as providing a good basic education with excellent teaching and facilities, and with an emphasis on health and community spirit over pure academics. I suspect most of the motivated students would get into a university or training college of some sort, but few of them would go to Oxford or Cambridge. Also, the tri-lingual part would slow down progress in course material - if a girl only understood 1/3 of the lessons for a year or more that would have to have an effect! Particularly for the girls who join the school at 13 or 14, rather than as juniors.

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 11 Jun 2019, 14:22 
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There are people like Sybil and Polly who aren't academic but have talents in other areas, and people like Maeve who aren't clever but try their best, but the Ozannes and Prudence and some of the others just don't seem to make any effort, and I find it quite frustrating that everyone just seems content to leave them to it. I was never going to be any good at PE, art or singing, but I tried :lol: . The Ozannes just seem to doss about. I'm surprised that Paul and Elizabeth stood for it!

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 09:06 
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I suspect that the change in emphasis after the war reflects the Butler Education Act of 1944, despite the CS being independent. The beginning of state secondary education and the tripartite system, with state grammar schools academically focused on university entrance, must have affected the academic drive of the independents as well. There is also, as mentioned above, the changing social situation where girls didn't just go home to wait until marriage. However, I also think that university entrance in the 1950s was very different from now, with only tiny numbers applying, and it was expected that people applying to Oxbridge (interesting how it's only ever Oxford for EBD - does she even mention Cambridge?) would stay on into 'third year sixth' to take Oxbridge entrance. It was very different from now - even in the 70s and 80s, if universities wanted you, they'd give you a low offer.

I do agree that the trilingual system would have made progress slower, but exams really weren't the be all and end all of education the way they (tragically) are now.


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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 13:44 
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I started Grammar School in 1960. At that time there were no maintenance grants etc so unless one was "scholarship material" (and there were "S" level exams) one needed parents who could pay as well as brains (and application thereof). It would not have been feasible to work and attend lectures though extra-mural degrees were possible and I think there was a modicum of "mature" students.

By the time I went up in 1967 there were (means-tested) grants for maintenance (a grant meant that fees were also paid). As a generalisation if one could get the grades, there would be a place (except for subjects such as medicine even in those days). About 3% of the population went to university, there were unconditional offers (three bottom grade passes) made. Both my siblings went (post A-levels) to Cambridge. my brother with an Exhibition.

With the expansion of tertiary education, questions were asked about where the money was coming from (I know because I was one of the people who asked) to allow anyone with the ability to benefit. "Don't worry" we were told "There'll be plenty of money available".


I never did believe it foe one moment...

Please excuse the rant - I'm still annoyed about the closure of the "bright kid's way out"

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2019, 16:08 
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Grants came in just in time for my mum and dad - they were both born just after the war, so maybe the timing was because the government realised that the baby boomers were about to reach higher education age so the cost was about to become an issue for a large number of people?

It's not something that the CS ever tackles. Dorita Fairlie Bruce shows Dimsie having to abandon her plans to go to university because her dad has died so the money is no longer there, but money always appears in CS-land. What would Jacynth have done if she hadn't been awarded the scholarship? Madge and Jem very kindly agree to pay for Biddy to go to university if she doesn't get a scholarship, although we never hear if she does or not. The Carricks conveniently win a fortune at the casino in Monte Carlo just before they die - as you do! Mlle Lepattre pays for Simone to go to the Sorbonne. I suppose there's an issue with Grizel, who ends up doing what her dad wants because he won't support her financially otherwise, but that's as near as it gets.

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2019, 08:35 
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In the Tyrol days few girls went to university, so it wasn't much of an issue. By the Swiss days the Chalet School would have been pretty pricey, and therefore not appealing to cash strapped UK families. Someone like Jacynth and her aunt wouldn't have even thought about researching European boarding schools.

It's the UK period where they'd be attracting families who were sacrificing to afford a good boarding school, so that their kid could try to get scholarship money to attend university. I imagine some of those families were unimpressed when the larger part of the school, and all the experienced senior mistresses, suddenly decamped to Switzerland, leaving the Carnbach branch with mostly juniors and a completely new and redueced set of senior mistresses.

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2019, 18:53 
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Alison H wrote:
Grants came in just in time for my mum and dad - they were both born just after the war, so maybe the timing was because the government realised that the baby boomers were about to reach higher education age so the cost was about to become an issue for a large number of people?

.


It changed in 1960, the year before I went to University, name changed from County Major Scholarship to County University Award, and if you got your place at University there was a means tested grant, and your fees were paid even if your parents had too much money for you to get a maintenance grant. Fees the year I went were £50 I think.


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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 13 Jun 2019, 21:31 
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ivohenry wrote:
Alison H wrote:
Grants came in just in time for my mum and dad - they were both born just after the war, so maybe the timing was because the government realised that the baby boomers were about to reach higher education age so the cost was about to become an issue for a large number of people?

.


It changed in 1960, the year before I went to University, name changed from County Major Scholarship to County University Award, and if you got your place at University there was a means tested grant, and your fees were paid even if your parents had too much money for you to get a maintenance grant. Fees the year I went were £50 I think.


I think the fees were 57 GBP per year for the years I was at University (1958-61), because I remember that the minimum grant of 50 GBP didn't even quite cover those! The maintenance grant payment was not only parental means tested, but the amount paid also varied quite considerably from Local Authority to Local Authority at the time. I seem to recall that County Durham was one of the most generous, while the then West Riding of Yorkshire was known as one of the meanest, but I have no idea whether or not the differing allocations had any relationship to the number of students applying to university from the area.


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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 14 Jun 2019, 07:50 
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It actually begins earlier than Highland Twins, starting in Goes To It/War with the following sequence of points:

Quote:
There were no examination results to announce; but, as she said, there were a good many items of news personal to the school.


Quote:
Jeanne de Lachenais was not yet allowed to do any work, for she had had a bad time and was still far from strong. But, during the past week, she had insisted on mingling with her colleagues, and was trying to persuade the Head to let her set her own exam papers.


Quote:
Next week’s exam-week? Has anyone realised that?


Quote:
Then they separated, those who had collecting to do to see what they could garner; the others to draw together and discuss what kind of papers they would be likely to get in the coming Oxford Examination. Seven of the Fifth and Sixth were taking School Certificate, and there were eight Junior Certificate. The events of the past few days had put such things as exams out of their heads; but now realisation of the fact that the trial was almost on them came with a shock, and they talked eagerly. Hitherto, the school had taken no public exams.


Obviously the last quote suggests that earlier references to exams were only internal, but it does show clearly when the school changed to the British system.

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 Post subject: Re: Exams
PostPosted: 16 Jun 2019, 19:47 
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They had internal exams right from the very first couple of years - Elizaveta, you may recall, is said to be "undergoing an examination in mathematics", and there's a scene where Jo realises she's made a complete nonsense of a fraction set in a maths test.

I wonder how many of the children at the Margaret Roper School passed any kind of public exam and/or did a university training of any kind.


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