Reforms are making GCSEs ‘less relevant’, former head of Eton warns

The TES is reporting that Tony Little, the former head master of Eton College, has called for an overhaul of GCSEs to reduce the focus on written exams and increase reliance on teacher assessment of students’ problem-solving and collaboration skills.

In an interview with TES, Mr Little, who retired from Eton this summer, said exams should not be “the only game in town” and that raising the participation age to 18 offered an opportunity for a “more innovative view of assessment” at 16. In their current form, GCSEs were becoming “less relevant”, he added.

His suggestions are in stark contrast to the approach of the Department for Education, which is reducing the use of non-exam assessment in its reformed GCSEs.

…Mr Little warned that too great an emphasis on written exams caused some students to lack self-worth because it did not give them the chance to “show what they can do”.

Instead, he said, there should be a “hybrid” model in which, alongside written exams, students were assessed on a wide range of skills including problem-solving and collaboration. Teachers should carry out this assessment, and should receive in-depth training to enable them to do so effectively, he added.

Mr Little argued that non-exam assessment could be built into most subjects…

More at: Reforms are making GCSEs ‘less relevant’, former head of Eton warns

 

Two questions here:

Do you endorse the general idea of what Tony Little is suggesting here: a model that combines written exams with assessment of wider skills?

If so, how do you feel about responsibility for the assessment being at the discretion of teachers? Are they sufficiently objective to be able to do this fairly?

Please give us your feedback in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. Mktadvice4schls

    SchoolsImprove and so the wheel turns – was this sort of (good) idea that led to coursework-intensive GCSEs, which were ruined by cheating.

  2. Mktadvice4schls

    SchoolsImprove and so the wheel turns – was this sort of (good) idea that led to coursework-intensive GCSEs, which were ruined by cheating.

  3. Mktadvice4schls SchoolsImprove If schools weren’t judge on exam results the incentive to cheat would be much reduced.
    That said, coursework was always subject to internal and external moderation.  If it were to be reintroduced (and I think it should be as part of a package of exams which would allow for graduation at 18 via multiple routes) then it would need to be stringently checked.

  4. TW

    cia262 SchoolsImprove  But only when they are incentivised into it.  Works perfectly well when a system exists enabling them to be objective.

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