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GCSEs to Be Scrapped Under New Plans; Replaced with Old Style O-levels

Posted on the 21 June 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Pupils sitting an exam - GCSES are to be scrapped, under new propositions Pupils sitting an exam. Photocredit: bitjungle

The background

The biggest change to the exam system for a generation may be about to come through, as GCSEs might be scrapped in favour of the tougher, old style O Levels. The changes would come into gear in 2014, reported the BBC. There would be a two-speed system, with less academic pupils sitting easier papers like the old CSE. The plans were found in a leaked document, seen by The Daily Mail, and will be put out for consultation in the autumn. Another major change will be one exam board setting the O Level – as opposed to now, when there are six – something that Michael Gove, the education secretary, thought encouraged a “race to the the bottom,” with boards competing to dumb down their papers. Modular elements of GCSEs have already been scrapped. The leaked proposals will also see the national curriculum being scrapped for secondary education. Predictably, teaching unions are upset, whilst Tories are crowing with glee. The government has not, at the time of writing, commented on the leak.

The leak is not good timing

The leak, said an analysis on the BBC, seems to have taken the Department of Education “by surprise.” The timing’s “not good” either, as people finish their GCSE and A levels. If ministers want to do this, they can’t “hang around.”

The move will exacerbate social division

Teaching unions have expressed their “disbelief,” reported The Guardian, calling the move “divisive” and not good for “social mobility.” The paper quoted Mary Bousted, leader of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, who said that Gove’s move was “ludicrous”, and that you didn’t get anywhere by dividing people into “sheep and goats at 14.” Chris Keates, the general secretary of NASUWT, said that there was “no evidence” that the current system meant exams were getting easier.

This won’t happen, anyway

Backbench Tory MPs love Michael Gove, said Daniel Knowles on The Telegraph, and this is making them love him more. The GCSE, though it was introduced under Margaret Thatcher, has become “a symbol … of our apparent educational decline.” British school leavers don’t have “employable skills”; we worry about “mickey mouse courses” – so you can understand why Conservatives get in a pother about education. But will the reforms “actually happen?” Probably not, actually. It will have to go through a lot of consultation – so everything “may be shredded.” And how will the selection work, anyway? This all sounds like throwing a bit of red meat to the Tories. It won’t last.

It will actually help the disadvantaged; and Michael Gove should be Prime Minister

If he’s going to do it, said Tim Stanley on The Telegraph, then Gove should definitely be Prime Minister (presuming his taxes are all in order.” We should all be very excited about this. Education is paramount – it should make us “independent, disciplined agents of the free market.” The old O-levels encouraged a broader understanding of a subject, rather than just analysing one sonnet of Shakespeare. These new proposals will say goodbye to the “silly, wooly GCSEs” and hello to a more “nuanced system.” And this will help talented children from poorer backgrounds. It would be a “legacy” that the government would be proud of.

Michael Gove consigns Margaret Thatcher’s education reforms to the dustbin of history.His arrogance is breathtaking. #SUFS

— NASUWT (@nasuwtunion) June 21, 2012


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