Axeing of soft GCSEs to hit PE and drama

Plans are being drawn up, says a report in the Sunday Times, to cut back on “soft” GCSE subjects as the government presses ahead with reforms to raise exam standards and restore rigour to the curriculum…

Exam board insiders confirmed this weekend that subjects such as law, media studies, drama and PE were at risk of being culled from the list of about 58 GCSEs. One source said that as many as 20 subjects were under scrutiny.

What would be left would be a core of traditional academic subjects including English, maths, the sciences, geography, history and modern languages. Other subjects could still be taught but not necessarily as GCSEs.

A spokesman for Ofqual, the exams regulator, confirmed that it was “looking at whether all the existing subjects should be included in the GCSE brand”. There would be consultation on any decisions made.

An exam board insider said: “Some subjects like PE and drama are more vocational and practical than academic. The question will be asked of each one: why is this a GCSE?

“There are questions being asked about whether some minor languages that are GCSEs are best taught in that format, for example. Once a list of subjects is released there will be an explosion of protest.”

Chris Woodhead, the former chief inspector of schools, welcomed the move to scrap softer GCSE subjects. “GCSE exams ought to be academic qualifications,” he said…

More at:  Axeing of soft GCSEs to hit PE and drama (subscription required)

What do you think of the idea of subjects such as drama, PE and media studies being removed from GCSE status? Please let us know in the comments or on twitter… 

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Categories: Secondary.


  1. RUloveskiing

    SchoolsImprove bye bye olympic legacy. Hello more obese children and no more competitive players or teams. Absolute joke! Soft?! #Goveout

  2. Hill14Amy

    SchoolsImprove So now my BA (hons) in Theatre is worthless? Not happy that I’m in student debt just to do a job I ❤ #DramaIsBeneficial

  3. GrahamBett

    SchoolsImprove Soft subjects’ latest A-Cs pass rates:
    PE 70.9%
    Drama 73.3%
    Media 66.4%
    Latin 89.9%

  4. kathelcymru

    SchoolsImprove social ticking time bomb? Do the ‘academic subjects’ deliver the personal and social development we need to exist together?

  5. LearnWLesley

    RUloveskiing SchoolsImprove it’s in the interest of the ruling elites to keep the masses controlled by fear, poor health and education.

  6. PeteBeaumont68

    GrahamBett SchoolsImprove And these exams were taken by a very similar profile of candidates no doubt? Anyone take Latin and media?

  7. rrobson66

    GlenFrost SchoolsImprove one wonders whether the government are worried that students might understand how they manipulate the media?

  8. PatriciaJuby

    GrahamBett pembrokeferry SchoolsImprove Latin? Soft subject? I think not. Perhaps low pupil teacher ratio. Hence higher results?

  9. TrainOddity

    GrahamBett SchoolsImprove – in Germany Latin is compulsory for their ‘Grammar Schools’, probably why excel but it’s not a ‘soft subject’

  10. FionaTipper

    SchoolsImprove exam set should be broad with comp elements, say 7/8 core subjects then a few indiv choices inc drama and sport if they want

  11. thejudge09

    SchoolsImprove so angry, work hard to show importance of pe in life & show links to career & see bureaucrats taking value away! #nolegacy

  12. mike_gunn

    GrahamBett In addition, the national stats for Media at A level read 1.7% A*, and about 7% A. Most subjects average around 7% A*

  13. kayajs24

    SchoolsImprove is this the same government that is trying to tackle obesity? Because undermining an education in PE will work(!)

  14. LearnWLesley

    jay__ell SchoolsImprove agree when something sees itself as a brand get ready for magicians of marketing to do their stuff!!

  15. jay__ell

    LearnWLesley now I’m waiting eagerly for ‘special measures brand’ & ‘free school meals brand’. Management by half-wits. SchoolsImprove

  16. drama_holly

    SchoolsImprove worrying! The legacy of the Olympics? Leading the world in theatre, film & tv? Does this ‘gove’rnment not wonder how & why?

  17. BrooksStuart

    SchoolsImprove some students only come to school or these-devaluing them mean parents focus on the core = gov reducing 2 hours of PE #unfit

  18. BrooksStuart

    SchoolsImprove some students only come to school for this, devaluing them= parents/schools focusing on the core=gov reducing 2 hours of PE

  19. nicolajm1983

    SchoolsImprove this is awful, as HOD for Dance and Drama I’m terrified of the implications this could have for my dept. and students 🙁

  20. HelenSalmon2

    SchoolsImprove this is ill advised. We want students who are fit and also those who can appreciate and participate in the Arts.

  21. thislast

    SchoolsImprove “GCSE exams ought to be academic qualifications” says Woodhead. This is narrow-minded illiterate reactionary folly. Vandals.

  22. wheelerofads

    SchoolsImprove GCSE PE is tough. Especially the exam. Drama ‘soft’? Let’s not kill off creativity, self-expression and choice.

  23. biso10

    SchoolsImprove I hope the axeing of the soft GCSE won’t affect the IGCSE P.E programme. How will students aspire to careers in sport if P.E

  24. biso10

    SchoolsImprove. How will students aspire & get exposed to the arts & sports industry if the scrap P.E??? P.E is the only subject that can..

  25. biso10

    SchoolsImprove P.E is the only subject that can save ones life!!! Especially regarding obesity, Chronic heart tease etc.

  26. LNAHealthEd

    SchoolsImprove, ludicrous, apart frm health benefits gained, what about the returns to economy from Arts/theatre etc..

  27. ngaustin

    djoddsox sounds like anything he didn’t study. From that article would PE become academic if it was 40% practical and 60% theory?

  28. JobbingTeacher1

    Wisdom_Learning SchoolsImprove How narrow a curriculum are they really willing to go for!!? I fear for my kids, I really do!!

  29. emmawarburton

    SchoolsImprove how ridiculous. It would be a big mistake. Can’t see how PE is a soft option anyway. One size does NOT fit all. Depressing.

  30. hilary_mcdonald

    SchoolsImprove Yet more focus on “academic” kids without offering a positive solution for those with other talents

  31. djoddsox

    karishamilton ngaustin I truly & utterly believe in the beauty of living for a minuscule amount of time in this wonderful, vast universe

  32. JannineThompson

    SchoolsImprove this further demonstrates that we have an inadequate DoE, creating an education system unfit for the 21st century…

  33. JannineThompson

    SchoolsImprove …& why social inequality continues to be a significant problem in this country #timeforchange #getGoveout

  34. mariemcmanus

    AStrokeOfLife SchoolsImprove obesity epidemic looming oh I know let’s scrap PE- which bright spark came up with that one.

  35. Anon

    see – average ten schools a week… 35 weeks a year spent on tour,
    average of 200 kids per school… that makes around 70,000 reasons why
    my Drama GCSE, A level and degree matter…

  36. LaCatholicState

    SchoolsImprove Good….non academic, extra curricular activity should take place in the last hour and a half….and should be voluntary.

  37. 1066Chris

    GrahamBett SchoolsImprove Interesting to see that at Eton it’s possible to not have an EBac compliant subject combination.

  38. David_AC_Grant

    GrahamBett SchoolsImprove Surprised to see you can graduate from Eton without doing either history or geography.

  39. DaveBSheppard

    GrahamBett SchoolsImprove Where are the GCSEs in Access to Power, Preparation for Cabinet and The Certainty of Superiority? Too soft?

  40. Beth Reid

    I think the idea of dropping drama as a GCSE is terrible, we don’t all fit in the same box and there should be options for everyone, including artistic development which is just as important as academic. Although I still see drama as academic, actors aren’t stupid but highly informed individuals

  41. FionaTipper

    AWJFitzgibbon decades ago sch only 3Rs, then started to embrace wider aspects of edu, and now back to basics. Not for the good of the kids!

  42. AWJFitzgibbon

    FionaTipper Subjects like PE and Drama are the students favourites subjects. They learn so many skills and general life attributes!

  43. FionaTipper

    AWJFitzgibbon totally agree! Our sch do D&T, art, drama, music, IT, DofE etc for all, sport 4times a week and still get fab exam results.

  44. BramRaider

    SchoolsImprove Controversially,GCSE could be for academic subjects as long as an alternate brand for these subjects was given enough status

  45. Lj

    If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid. That’s exactly what our education system is doing. Disgraceful.

  46. BramRaider

    SchoolsImprove The biggest problem I see is that we are missing the joined up thinking. They aren’t academic subjects but have worth.

  47. ej5351

    BramRaider SchoolsImprove yes think of the money art & sports give to economy! Academic study useful to a point but we need all sorts!

  48. lifenearthetop

    SchoolsImprove under a gov determined to undermine the progress of children this is perhaps the most damaging change if all.

  49. lifenearthetop

    SchoolsImprove listen to Ken Robinson on creativity in learning. What experiences will we offer young people or are we just exam factories?

  50. JonCams

    You have 2 tools in life: Body and Mind.
    Removing the development of the body will not only affect other subjects, but future life. PE is vital.

  51. JanetOKeefe

    SchoolsImprove my son at Oxford valued drama GCSE to balance his academic week. My second son is doing PE GCSE. My 3rd son will do Art…

  52. JanetOKeefe

    SchoolsImprove and my 4th son music. Without these subjects they would be very stressed and unbalanced although very bright.

  53. GeographyCarrie

    JanetOKeefe SchoolsImprove I’m very academic, i did art at both GCSE/A Level…it was enjoyable but challenging. Art not the easy option!

  54. JanetOKeefe

    GeographyCarrie SchoolsImprove neither are PE and Drama/Theatre Studies. Done properly they are good options and balance the week.

  55. JobbingTeacher1

    SchoolsImprove so acting in front of an audience of your peers is an easy soft option then? Like to see a few of the DFE chaps try it!!

  56. Andyphilipday

    Bectully tombennett71 dramateachgeek Think you can call that an ‘evidence-based argument’ Rebecca : ) #passionatedefender

  57. Bectully

    Andyphilipday tombennett71 dramateachgeek frustrated beyond belief. Know what I do is vital and worthwhile- want my kids to have chance.

  58. Bectully

    Andyphilipday tombennett71 dramateachgeek Drama: something of tradition, of calibre sports, of creativity, of empathy, of society. Vital.

  59. dramateachgeek

    Bectully Andyphilipday tombennett71 saying they can do it in a ‘club’ is demeaning in itself.Espec in schools where Eng and drama are

  60. dramateachgeek

    Bectully Andyphilipday tombennett71 taught by the same teachers thus Eng teachers constantly stretched by exam stress and changes.

  61. tombennett71

    dramateachgeek Bectully Andyphilipday How are drama clubs demeaning? They’re brilliant places to encounter the theatre- sometimes better

  62. dramateachgeek

    tombennett71 Bectully Andyphilipday to say that drama can be reduced to just drama clubs is demeaning Tom

  63. dramateachgeek

    tombennett71 Bectully Andyphilipday and never better than the value of saying that drama requires intelligence and can thus be a GCSE

  64. dramateachgeek

    tombennett71 Bectully Andyphilipday do you teach Drama Tom? As an A Level or a GCSE? I teach eng and drama. Theatre Studies by far

  65. dramateachgeek

    tombennett71 Bectully Andyphilipday the hardest exam. Requires university level intelligence and style of thinking.

  66. tombennett71

    dramateachgeek Bectully Andyphilipday I don’t see how that’s relevant to my claim that schools still offer many creative opportunities

  67. tombennett71

    dramateachgeek Bectully Andyphilipday I think you’re arguing against a claim you think I’ve made, not one I did.

  68. tombennett71

    dramateachgeek Bectully Andyphilipday More than Further maths? Physics? Philosophy? You can’t mean that.

  69. dramateachgeek

    tombennett71 Bectully Andyphilipday I think you must work in a different type of school. Around me there isn’t the money now except

  70. dramateachgeek

    tombennett71 Bectully Andyphilipday when taught taught at GCSE so I can argue the validity of a school trip to see a play etc

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