The government risks destabilising the entire school exam system by rushing through plans to replace GCSEs with the Ebacc, a change that may be unnecessary, a committee of MPs has warned in a damning report. This is from the Guardian…
The investigation, by the education select committee, challenges almost every justification the education secretary, Michael Gove, has given for phasing out GCSEs in favour of the new qualification, saying there is particular worry the change could disadvantage less academic pupils.
It calls into question Gove’s wider programme of rapid change, warning of a “lack of overall coherence” in how the government is approaching several key elements of education.
The report urges the government to delay introduction of the Ebacc, given the “profound and far-reaching consequences” of the change. It adds: “Introducing several fundamental changes at the same time and to a tight timetable will jeopardise the quality of the reforms and may threaten the stability of the wider exam system.”
While changes were needed to GCSEs, the government had yet even to prove the exams were sufficiently discredited to need replacing, said Graham Stuart, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee.
He said: “Ministers want to introduce a new qualification, require a step change in standards, and [want to] alter the way exams are administered, all at the same time. We believe this is trying to do too much, too quickly, and we call on the government to balance the pace of reform with the need to get it right.”
The criticism follows serious concerns expressed to Gove’s department by the head of the exams watchdog in December. Glenys Stacey, chief regulator of Ofqual, said the stated ambitions for the Ebacc “may exceed what is realistically achievable through a single assessment”…
Much of Gove’s pro-Ebacc argument has centred on raising academic standards. But there was little evidence, Stuart said, of how the new qualification would assist less able pupils. He said the so-called statement of achievement planned for those who missed out on a full Ebacc could become “a badge of failure”.
The MPs warn in the report: “We have not seen any evidence to suggest that the proposed changes will be more successful than GCSEs in addressing underachievement or in narrowing the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged students and their peers.”