Q1: What’s the probability of another change to GCSE maths?


They say a change is as good as a rest. But the raft of exam reforms teachers and students have had to cope with over the past few years puts that idiom to the test, and then some. Tes reports

The final phase of the revamp of GCSEs and A levels devised by Michael Gove is well underway. Meanwhile, such is the nature of politics and the tenure of education secretaries that the architect of the reforms is on his third job since then and education is on his third successor. Policies, once set in motion, stagger on like zombies long after the soul has departed.

Back in 2013, Gove revamped, more rigorous GCSEs were trumpeted as being “more demanding, more fulfilling and more stretching” to give “young people the broad, deep and balanced education which will equip them to win in the global race”. He removed coursework, bumped up the amount of content to be covered and brought back cliff-edge examination. And A levels were decoupled from AS levels.

As for raising standards, last year’s ridiculously low pass mark in maths made a mockery of the government’s claim that it was making GCSEs the “gold standard”. How can a qualification be gold standard if a “pass” (grade 4) can be achieved with just 18 per cent of the overall marks in the higher paper?

The big question about a “gold standard”, however, is what is it for? Is it for government to brag about how rigorous it is, should it be a trajectory to further study or should it be useful to young people in everyday life?

A former education secretary thinks he has the answer. Lord Baker would like to see the GCSE split into two: core maths and further maths. He believes not enough time is spent equipping young people with the skills they will need in the real world, such as calculating loans, debts and interest rates. “I was the minister who introduced GCSEs and I never thought they would be set in stone for ever,” he said recently. “It is now time for a change”.

Lord Baker may well have a point, but for teachers and school leaders dealing with problems stemming from the current reforms, they are words that will send a shiver down their spines. There’s only one thing worse than change and that’s more change.

Read the full article Q1: What’s the probability of another change to GCSE maths?

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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