Whew! What a subject!
I'll open with a statement that all I say relates to the current UK status but, at a stretch, could guide others in other lands.
Now then ...
Our current system expects early teens (say 11 to 14 year olds) to know what they want to do in their future life. Some talented, possibly gifted, early teens might've decided what they want to do and train their attention in the required direction. Good for them! But most early teens - boys as well as girls - have other, more urgent considerations such as who is talking to who, who is "going around" with who and, possibly incredibly important at the time - who fancies me?
Can you see a problem?
A system is devised by adults with decades of retrospection. It has nothing to do with the immediate which, like all youths during the years, every teen generation lives in. But, with the best of intentions, the system has been put into place to provide the NOW with suitable talent.
The current education system is explicit in it's uselessness, for it is "designed" to create an educated person to fit an employee "model", a model that is currently - and possibly always - out of date and, therefore redundant!
The education system is designed by adults who've forgotten what it's like to be teens! They'd say they were qualified to judge by experience but, and isn't this something that is missed, it's an experience that everyone has had? What makes them more experienced than any other teen? What says they are are more qualified to pronounce what is suitable to learn?
What is wrong?
1) The exam - and learning system - still persists in it's history! With all respect to tradition, isn't it only right that if tradition is found wanting you change or lose it? The years - and timing of exams - is ONLY held for traditional reasons! The educational year is still a reflection of the medieval legal terms. And this is only held as sacred by The Bar. Because of this, terms of schooling are unbalanced and idiotic. I mean - Who but an idiot would say it's a good thing to hold exams during a season which has proved to be high in the suffering of hay fever?
2) A teen, defined flexibly as a young human from the age of 13 to 17, is expected to say what they want to do in life, how they contribute to society, what they want to achieve. How stupid is that? I mean, you are asking a young human - concerned with personal habits and relationships - to define his academic course.
Why Not ...
1) Have all final exams conducted in midwinter. These, then, would be a finality of their school year and act as a closure. New Year, New Opportunity for the next.
2) Planning Years. From Age 11 to 16, the pupils get a general grounding in most subjects. At age 15, pupils are consulted as what they want to do. Given all information - and, let's face it, they can find it on the internet - they are asked what they want to do as a job. They can then be advised what qualifications they might need, what experienced and so on.
3) Exam Years. From age 15 to 17, the pupil - given a chance to think on what they want to do, they must attain the relevant qualifications.
4) Further education. This is an option, not a goal! If at the conclusion of the basic education the pupil has a suitable collection of proven, certificated skills then this must be a primary employment avenue! If a pupil has demonstrated a skill or talent further than they can be placed at, then they qualify for discounted Further Education.
So Why Not?
When you're a teen, you know bugger all. The sap's rising, the world is the mollusc of your choice!
And it's big, old reactionary gits like me that harp on about "it was harder in my day!" and so on.
But can't we adults take a step back, look at what is then look at alternatives for our future generations?