Sir James Dyson: Exam reform will damage creativity

Sir James Dyson has criticised Michael Gove’s GCSE reforms, saying the removal of coursework in most subjects will harm creativity and problem-solving in schools. This is from the Times…

The inventor says in a letter to The Times that structural changes to GCSEs published this week by the regulator Ofqual would put too much emphasis on “exam cramming”.

He writes: “When Dyson design engineers launch a machine, they’ve spent years testing, mulling over results and perfecting. Inventing something worthwhile takes time spent persevering in labs and workshops not under exam conditions in a smelly gymnasium.”…

Coursework will disappear from English, maths, history and geography GCSE assessments and be reduced to 10 per cent of marks from 2015 in the first batch of qualifications to be redesigned.

The regulator will publish plans later for the structure of reformed GCSEs for a second batch of subjects, which will be taught in schools from 2016 and for which decisions on coursework will be controversial.

These will include design and technology, a subject whose teaching in schools Sir James has championed, but also modern and classical languages, where assessments need to be redesigned to test speaking and listening skills.

Art and design is likely to keep its current assessment structure, in which students are graded by teachers based entirely on their coursework, with the exam boards checking their marking by looking at sample portfolios of students’ work.

Music, drama and dance GCSEs are also likely to remain based largely on coursework given their status as performing arts but teachers will probably be told to film students’ performances on which their grades are based and hand recordings to moderators.

More at:  Exam reform will damage creativity, Dyson claims (subscription required)

Do you agree or disagree with Sir James on the points he makes? Please tell us why via Twitter or in the comments…

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Categories: Secondary.


  1. Mr_Al_Robinson

    SchoolsImprove agree. His point is true. Products aren’t developed by doing an exam. Important to have emphasis on designing.

  2. TeaLadyJune

    The reforms favour kids with home environments conducive to ‘cramming’ 2 years of stuff for one-off exams. Dyson is right! SchoolsImprove

  3. CaroleHitchens

    SchoolsImprove exam reform is essentially for academic subjects. Intro of greater range of vocational options alongside is good idea.

  4. Jharrison22

    SchoolsImprove Yes he is right, especially for engineering. Problem solving is essential, found by testing ideas. Can’t do that in exam!

  5. KarenPernyes

    What if you knew the technology did exist to examine/assess 21st Century Skills in an exam setting or by coursework and there was a reliable way of testing it? It does. #LiveAssess and #ACJ taglearning

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