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Axing GCSEs could be good thing - head
THE scrapping of GCSE’s in favour of a more rigorous examination has both advantages and disadvantages, according to Ledbury headteacher Andrew Evans.
In a shake-up unveiled by Education Secretary Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the new, tough O-level-style system would see the end of modular and rolling assessment and place greater emphasis on a more traditional exam at the end of a two-year course.
However, its introduction has been delayed until September 2015, meaning students would first sit the exams in 2017 and the plans could even be scrapped by Labour if they won the next general election.
Mr Evans, head teacher at John Masefield High School, said simpler assessment, fewer exams and discouraging schools and teachers from teaching to the test are all positive features of the proposed reforms.
“The current examination system involves too much time on assessment tasks and insufficient time for teachers to develop skills, knowledge and understanding,”
He also applauded the fact that there will be only one exam board for the core subjects of English, maths, the sciences, history, geography and languages. At present three major exam boards all compete for business but in future they will have to bid for five-year contracts to run individual subjects exclusively.
“It will be much fairer with young people all over the country taking the same exam,” he said.
“It will also mean that teachers waste less time in choosing the right syllabus for their school. The competition between exam boards to produce the best specification is also to be applauded.
“How the quality of the exams, the marking and the grading is kept consistent from year to year will be of crucial importance.”
But one key concern for Mr Evans is the notion that pupils will not be able to retake examinations should they fail.
“It is possible for somebody to have a bad day or be affected by illness or personal grief,” he said. “In real life the quality of being able to improve after a set-back is extremely important.”
He is also worried that the new English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBacc) does not include any practical or artistic subjects, such as art, technology or music.
“I am concerned the curriculum may become less interesting, motivating and will not suit creative learners as much as the current curriculum offered in schools,” he said.
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