Monday, May 03, 2021

Education in Corona times

As an explanation of the following post, here is a brief outline of the Danish school system my three youngest are going through: Here in Nordfyn region, they go to nursery from the age of one, then kindergarten from three. After they turn six, they start in the village primary where they then continue for seven years till they are between 12 & 13. From 13 to 16 they move to a middle school in the next town for three years. At the end of those three years they apply to the three-year high school of their choice - this can be a grammar school, a business or technical school or even a vocational high school where you study to be a joiner, a carpenter, a healthcare assistant, a hairdresser or whatever floats your boat. They are given a conditional offer for entrance to these upper high schools and that offer is related to how they do in their middle school leaving exams which is set my the Danish ministry for Education, which is roughly equivalent to the Scottish Nat5 or the English GCSE. When we moved here Léon entered this system in the second year of the three year middle school course.

Last year's national exams were cancelled in Denmark, as they were in many countries because the kids were online-schooled from early March to mid-May, and the exams were due to take place early May. This year pupils were off January through March and now it's time for Léon to sit his leaving exams. On the one hand, sitting them would be a bit unfair as these kids are less prepared than previous years,  but on the other, if things get back to normal, going forward he'd then be expected to sit the proper uni entrance exams (studentereksamen) without ever having sat a proper ministry exam in his life. So the Danish government has come up with a compromise. Léon's year will sit half the normal exams at the end of this term to give the prospective grammar schools (gymnasiums) that they are all moving on to after the summer some kind of idea of what they are capable of, and as a fall-back their continuous assessment results from the last two terms will be used, should the underperform drastically compared to expectations. With that pressure lifted, Léon had his first Danish exam today - Danish essay writing (the written Danish Nat5 equivalent takes two days with a further oral paper in June!) Mr Laid-back has just bounced in the door grinning like a Cheshire cat, telling me it couldn't have gone any better! He got a topic he wanted to write about and one he had lots to say about. 

I swear nothing fazes that boy. He's missed all of year 7, 2 months of year 8 and 3 months of year 9. We dragged him out of the education system he knew at the end of s2 and asked him to learn to spell and read a language he only knows orally and mainly passively and sit grammar high school entrance exams in it less than two years later, and that in turn was blighted by a global pandemic and school lockdown and he actually claims to 'enjoy' the exams just weeks after going back to school! No matter what he gets, we already know his continuous assessment grade average is higher than his conditional offer at the local grammar school so fingers crossed next year will see him move up there and maybe get a whole year of in-person learning!

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