Following the news that Michael Gove is reported to be preparing to replace GCSEs for England from autumn 2014 and also to bring in a simpler exam for less academic teenagers, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “The members of what Michael Gove described today as the 'greatest generation of teachers' will feel they have been treated poorly by the nature of this announcement. When the headlines are forgotten it will be their energy and dedication which make the curriculum work and which have been tested today. Young people sitting their GCSEs will also find the timing poor.
“When the goalposts change, heads roll up their sleeves and get on with it. They will with this announcement too. And not everything is negative. The idea of a single exam board is sensible and dropping the National Curriculum may create valuable freedoms in the early years of secondary. The curriculum in later years is defined by the exam syllabus, so there is no more freedom there under these proposals.
“The proposals for a two-tier exam system are more worrying. It didn't work before and is even less likely to work in the modern economy. It doesn't solve the problem of devalued exams - a grade 1 CSE will be valued no more than a D grade GCSE - but it does force schools to put a limit on the aspirations of certain pupils and to label them as less capable from a young age. If there is one thing we know is true of successful schools, it is that they hold high expectations of every pupil. A better solution would be to raise the standards of the A grade.
“Indeed, the government has missed an opportunity here for genuinely bold reform. 16 is no longer the end of education; we are not summing up a school career here, but at 18. Why not deliver a broad certificate of education earlier and spend three years on deep and challenging A levels and high quality vocational study?
“We do value an academic curriculum as well as high quality vocational study. In a world of rapid change, a solid academic grounding in English, Maths and Science, is the most vocational of all qualifications. We can't see how these proposals advance that aim for all children. “
Follow this link to read Susan Young's feature article on the possible return of O-levels.
Page Published: 21/06/2012