Mixed views over plans to scrap GCSEs

Education Secretary Michael Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

OXFORDSHIRE headteachers have given Government plans to scrap GCSEs a mixed blessing.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that after 2016, 16-year-olds will no longer sit the qualification but will instead take a new English Baccalaureate Certificate.

The new qualification, which would be taught from 2015 with the first students completing the ‘EBacc’ in 2017, will have a stronger emphasis on final exams rather than coursework and will have five main subject areas, English, maths, science, languages and history or geography.

Banbury Academy headteacher Dr Fiona Hammans welcomed the reforms which she said more closely replicated the world of work.

She said: “We are really happy to hear there are going to be some changes.

“Coursework really doesn’t advantage children who come from backgrounds where there is not a tradition or understanding for support for academic work, so I am quite happy that is going to be taken out or reduced substantially.”

She hoped it would give more time for teachers to teach a subject rather than just meeting coursework criteria.

Modular units, which allow pupils to resit exams to improve their grades, are also to go.

Dr Hammans added: “I’m not sure retaking exams over and over again teaches youngsters anything about the real world other than they can keep getting it wrong or not doing it very well.

“Our experience tells us our kids respond when it’s high stakes and a one-off.”

But Wallingford School headteacher Wyll Willis was emphatically against the proposals, which he said were “dispiriting” and “wearying”.

He said: “Politicians always look for easy answers to complicated problems. I think GCSEs are a decent product that were slightly flawed. What needed to happen was some work around the grade boundaries to make sure the ‘drift’ stopped. Instead, the whole lot is going in the bin.”

He warned it would not help youngsters who were currently struggling to obtain academic qualifications.

He said: “My fear is I will spend the next five years working on something which will create a problem, then the next five years putting it right.”

Mike Reading, headteacher at Oxford Academy , said work clearly needed to be done to revise the existing qualifications.

He said: “I am encouraged by the fact we are not rushing into the changes.”

But he questioned whether the proposed final exam assessment would meet the needs for the future and the economy, and said there were some inconsistencies in what was planned.

He added: “It is commendable we want to make sure children have a high level of ability in critical skills for the future, but I do question where is RE and where are the arts?”

Comments (3)

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12:43pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

I don't really care what they do with qualifications, providing those that are awarded maths & English, actually have the ability to do simple calculations without the need for a calculator, and have at least some knowledge of Grammar, qualities that are obviously not a requirement of the current system.
I don't really care what they do with qualifications, providing those that are awarded maths & English, actually have the ability to do simple calculations without the need for a calculator, and have at least some knowledge of Grammar, qualities that are obviously not a requirement of the current system. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 1

8:54pm Thu 20 Sep 12

Thinkingoutloud says...

under this new system only 10% of students will get the top grades regardless of ability - so the well to do paying for private education will be reassured that little Johny from the state school down the road cannot get a high grade he hasn't paid for!
under this new system only 10% of students will get the top grades regardless of ability - so the well to do paying for private education will be reassured that little Johny from the state school down the road cannot get a high grade he hasn't paid for! Thinkingoutloud
  • Score: -3

2:03pm Fri 21 Sep 12

xjohnx says...

The object of the examinations should be to grade pupils in terms of inteligence and ability. Therefore the exams are actually meant to descriminate.

If the schools are not equally good, don't fiddle the exams like we do at the moment, change the teaching methods!

Remember the old adage, "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach".
The object of the examinations should be to grade pupils in terms of inteligence and ability. Therefore the exams are actually meant to descriminate. If the schools are not equally good, don't fiddle the exams like we do at the moment, change the teaching methods! Remember the old adage, "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach". xjohnx
  • Score: 0

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