Reactions to the proposed GCSE reforms
There have been mixed reactions to the news that GCSEs are to be replaced in core subjects by the English Baccalaureate Certificate, a move that heralds the introduction of a single end-of-course exam and a move to just one exam board for core subjects.
The NAHT acknowledges that the English Baccalaureate Certificate contains ‘some promising measures’ but stresses that further work is required to ensure it is the international standard the government is aiming for.
‘There are aspects of these reforms which make perfect sense, such as the potential for flexible timing to suit student needs and a retreat from the idea of a two-tier system,’ said general secretary, Russell Hobby. ‘For once, we seem to have a decent lead-in time, to prepare properly.
‘We are also comfortable with a more demanding standard for top grades, as exams should stretch our most able.’
However, Mr Hobby said that competition between exam boards was, at best, a contributory factor in grade inflation. A school system geared around exam performance and exam strategy was at least as influential a factor. ‘A move to single exam boards for key subjects will not address this and Ofqual has a lot of ground to make in recovering its credibility from this year’s English GCSE marking fiasco,’ he added.
Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) was less sanguine and said that ‘once again’ Michael Gove was ‘a man in a rush to stamp his impression on education in the UK regardless of whether it is in children's best interests.’
‘The plans for GCSE replacements are hugely simplistic and fail to recognise the complexity of learning and teaching,’ he said. ‘The government has failed to think through how qualifications and the secondary curriculum need to work together to develop the knowledge and skills young people need.’
Chief Regulator of Ofqual, Glenys Stacey, promised that Ofqual would continue’ to put standards first’ and would advise on the timeline for change to ensure that the proposed new qualifications could be implemented safely.
In a letter to the Department for Education, she said: ‘We will advise Government on the timetable for change, and say if it is not achievable or if the risks to standards or delivery are unacceptable.
‘We will wish to identify the delivery pressure points in the reform of GCSEs and intervene if we need to in order to manage any unacceptable risks.’
By Jill Wyatt