Children sitting too many GCSEs, AQA board boss says

The Telegraph is reporting that Andrew Hall, chief executive of AQA, has said that children should sit fewer exams in the future as part of a major shake-up of the education system designed to meet the needs of the modern economy…

Education standards are under threat because teenagers are being forced to sit up to 15 GCSEs at school, according to the head of the country’s biggest exam board.

Pupils are failing to develop key life skills after being pushed into taking a “vast number” of exams during secondary education, it was claimed.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the AQA board, suggested that all pupils should take no more than eight GCSEs to provide more time for extra-curricular activities, community volunteering and work experience.

He also admitted that some teachers had lost trust in the examining process because of poor marking, adding: “On occasions every exam board gets things wrong.”

The comments were made as the organisation launched a major project designed to map how the exams system will look within the next 12 years.

Mr Hall said that pupils should be expected to sit far fewer exams by 2025 and make greater use of digital technology.

He suggested that traditional science practicals could be replaced with virtual reality systems in which pupils conduct experiments “on screen”…

Speaking at the launch of the 2025 project in Westminster, Mr Hall said the average pupil currently sat around 10 exams but some took up to 15.

He insisted that schools should be making more time for community volunteering and work experience rather than encouraging pupils to sit “exam after exam after exam”.

“Some students without doubt think – or are encouraged to think – that 14 or 15 GCSEs is a good thing to do,” he said.

“My personal opinion is that it’s not. Look at the current Government’s accountability measure – the best eight, with double weighting for maths and English.

“To me, that doesn’t sound like a bad volume. What the eight is I don’t want to get into, but that leaves space in the curriculum for the other things. Educationally it will be better.”

…Mr Hall also said a “lot of trust to be rebuilt in the whole system”, admitting that marking mistakes in the past had eroded confidence in exams.

“It is about confidence and trust,” he said. “Because on occasions we get things wrong, on occasions every exam board gets things wrong. So being open about how you are changing those things… just being open and transparent builds trust.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Our new ‘best eight’ accountability measure will ensure that secondary schools will focus on the progress and performance of pupils in a broad range of eight key GCSE subjects, including core academic subjects.

“It is down to schools to decide how many GCSE subjects their pupils should study – but it is vital that however many pupils take, it is in their best interests.”…

More at:  Children sitting too many GCSEs, exam board boss says

Do you agree with Andrew Hall on this? Are students taking too many exams at the expense of developing in other areas such as work experience and community volunteering? Please give us your thoughts in the comments or on twitter… 

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  1. hecharden

    SchoolsImprove ‘Virtual reality science practicals’?! I am relieved our nation’s research scientists still use the hands on approach…

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