Comments by Glenys Stacey suggest the exams regulator may scupper plans to axe easier foundation and higher tier papers for less-able pupils – thereby requiring all pupils to sit the same test – amid fears the system will make GCSEs less “accessible” and undermine the “universal” nature of examinations. This is from the Telegraph…
The comments threaten to undermine a key element of the Government’s wide-ranging plan to overhaul the examinations system in England.
Currently, GCSEs are split into two levels. Foundation papers are traditionally aimed at low-ability pupils, allowing them to score a maximum C grade in tests.
But Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has condemned the move for promoting a “culture of low expectations”.
He said the system made it impossible for thousands of students to achieve the decent grades needed to get good jobs and proceed onto A-level courses.
Under a shake-up of GCSEs, he wants to axe tiered papers and force all pupils to sit the same exam.
But giving evidence to the Commons Education Select Committee today, Ms Stacey appeared to suggest that Ofqual may refuse to endorse the move, forcing the Government to drop the proposal.
She said Ofqual must “have regard to Government policy but not to slavishly follow it”.
“It is Ofqual’s job to determine whether or not new GCSEs will be tiered or whether there is a better arrangement that could ensure that these qualifications remain universal, as the Secretary of State has asked, and remain accessible to the same proportion of students as they are now,” she said.
Ms Stacey said there were pros and cons of running tiered exams.
She added: “The important point here is that we know that’s our job and we will make the right decision about what is the best known way to ensure that these qualifications remain universal and accessible.
“It may be tiering, it may not, but we have a job to do to get to the right solution.”
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