It may be time to ditch GCSEs and dust down Tomlinson

In Bristol this week, at the annual conference of the Girls’ Schools Association, headteacher Rose Hardy used some vivid imagery to describe GCSEs. Here’s what she said:

“I think many heads would say that in 30 years’ time, maybe sooner, we’ll look back and say what we’re doing now with young people is the equivalent of what the Victorians did – building their school rooms with windows so high up pupils couldn’t look out, and putting them in dunce caps”. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL writes in Tes.

It’s good that the leaders of some of our longest established independent schools are leading the drive for qualification reform. 

ASCL has already proposed one radical alternative to the woefully old-fangled GCSE English language qualification. We set up a Commission of Inquiry to look at how we could improve the prospects of the “forgotten third” of 16-year-olds who every year fall short of achieving the grade 4 “standard pass” in GCSE English and maths.

Its answer was the introduction of a new type of qualification: a Passport in English, and in time maths, which students would be able to take between the ages of 15 and 19 at the point of readiness, and which would enable them to develop their skills over time.

“The government should establish a cross-sector review of England’s GCSE exam system which is currently rooted in testing and assessment designed for a different era; and, in parallel, review the current high-stakes school accountability systems which are outmoded for students, parents and schools today.”

Read the full article and the ASCL’s proposals It may be time to ditch GCSEs and dust down Tomlinson 

Do you think an entire re-think is required? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin


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