Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday sounded the death-knell for GCSEs and announced their replacement by a new English Baccalaureate certificate. The news is covered widely across the media with this report coming from the Independent…
He made it clear the new qualification would be more rigorous than GCSEs and concentrate on traditional academic subjects.
It will be the biggest upheaval to the secondary school examination system since the introduction of GCSEs in 1986.
Under the proposals, the vast majority of pupils will be expected to work towards an English Baccalaureate certificate – which will be given to those who obtain top grade passes in English, maths, the sciences, foreign languages and the humanities – history or geography.
The first students will sit the new English, maths and science exams in the summer of 2017 – with languages and humanities coming into force soon after following consultation.
Each subject in the Baccalaureate will be delivered by a single exam board to avoid what Mr Gove has described as a “race to the bottom” as rival exam boards compete for schools’ custom by “dumbing down” exams.
Announcing the move in the Commons, Mr Gove said: “After years of drift, decline and dumbing down, at last we are reforming our examination system to compete with the world’s best.”
He added: “The GCSE was conceived – and designed – for a different age and a different world.
“We know that employers and academics have become less confident in the worth of GCSE passes – they fear students lack the skills for the modern workplace and the knowledge for advanced study.
“It is time for the race to the bottom to end. It is time to tackle grade inflation and dumbing down. It is time to raise aspirations and restore rigour to our examinations.”
All the existing boards will be eligible to bid for “EBacc” – as the new qualification will be known – subjects with exams regulator Ofqual deciding which bid wins the franchise.
As far as other subjects on the curriculum are concerned, yesterday’s consultation paper reveals no firm decision has been made as to what to call their qualification or how many will be subjected to the new exam franchise system – an indication of how central the five key Baccalaureate subjects are to ministerial thinking.
Other key elements of the package are as expected – modular units giving pupils the ability to constantly resit them to improve their grades will be scrapped and there will be a concentration instead on a three-hour end of course exam.
Mr Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made it clear they were united over the proposal with Mr Clegg’s office saying the main sticking point to agreement – the threat of introducing a two-tier system – had been removed.