The head of a British exam board has said that students should be allowed Internet access – including the ability to carry out Google searches – during exams. The head of the OCR school examinations board Mark Dawe told the BBC’s Today program that this would accurately reflect the way they would work after leaving school.

“It is more about understanding what results you’re seeing rather than keeping all of that knowledge in your head, because that’s not how the modern world works,” said Dawe.

He compared the idea to the debate about whether to have books available during a test, saying: “In reality you didn’t have too much time [to consult the book] and you had to learn it anyway.”

The Oxford, Cambridge & RSA board’s chief said that while permitting Internet access during exams would not happen in the next weeks or months, it was “inevitable” at some stage … 

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He argued that exams would need to change, asking for less regurgitation of facts and more interpretation and analysis. Especially as Google gets more intelligent and those answers get easier to find.

Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, strongly condemned the idea, describing it as a dumbing-down of education.

We have a crisis in standards in this country. We are three years behind the Chinese, at the age of 15. We have got universities running remedial courses. We have got employers saying too many youngsters are unemployable.”

What are your views? Dumbing down, or reflecting real-life skills? Take our poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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