‘Dumbed down’ exam boards facing axe in huge GCSE shake-up

The Mail is reporting that the government is threatening to replace four independent exam boards with a single government body.

…The boards compete for the £300 million that schools spend on exam papers each year. Schools Minister Nick Gibb told The Mail on Sunday that he was increasingly worried about the quality of questions being produced by the boards. 

In his most outspoken attack yet on organisations, he said: ‘I have commissioned officials to look seriously and urgently at the case for reform.

‘One of the issues is whether it makes sense to have three or four exam boards competing for market share among schools. We now have commercial or quasi-commercial organisations that are increasingly revenue-driven. There is a case for long-term, fundamental reform.’

Senior Government sources confirmed that one option under consideration is scrapping the four exam boards for England and Wales – AQA, OCR, Edexcel and WJEC – and switching to Government-produced exam papers…

More at: ‘Dumbed down’ exam boards facing axe in huge GCSE shake-up: Government threatens to tear up the exam amid growing anger over standards


It does sometimes seem odd that we have competing exam boards, especially when the suspicion is that one of the ways they compete is by offering better grades.

What do you think? Are there good reasons for sticking with the status quo?

Please give us your insights in the comments or via Twitter…


Should competing exam boards be replaced by a single government body?


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  1. TW

    “We now have commercial or quasi-commercial organisations that are increasingly revenue-driven.”

    Sounds just like academy schools.

  2. MrsTattersall8

    SchoolsImprove One board, combined strength, experience pooled. Instead we have exams of non-comparable levels in a selfish market.

  3. @TW  Oh the irony.  700+ approved academy chains/sponsors, aka quasi-commercial organisations increasingly revenue-driven, Good.  4 competing exam boards, Baaaaaaad.

  4. Government-produced papers!  No.  Exam board(s) must be independent of Government.  Any Government.  Huge danger of only Government approved questions and answers being acceptable.  This is a sinister development.

  5. Yorkshire_Steve

    SchoolsImprove Andyphilipday depends whether compete on cost, course content/assessment quality, service (all good) or ‘easiness’ (bad).

  6. Andyphilipday

    Yorkshire_Steve SchoolsImprove Just sense that some in DfE are itching to centralise their own control over how papers are set & graded.

  7. Yorkshire_Steve

    Andyphilipday SchoolsImprove cue accusation that Minister X personally wrote the GCSE History exam as it is their ‘pet’ subject!

  8. GillespieAidan

    SchoolsImprove the language! ‘Market Share’? I can’t believe how moronic the rhetoric from Govt is in regards Education in the UK.

Let us know what you think...