Lincoln head teachers back U-turn to scrap GCSE exams
Teachers and education bosses have welcomed Michael Gove’s Commons u-turn to scrap GCSE examinations.
The Tory education secretary wanted to replace the exams with the English Baccalaureate Certificate
(EBacc), which he hoped to introduce in autumn 2015.
But he has now been forced to shelve the plans after opposition from the Liberal Democrats, the Commons Education Committee, teachers and regulators, telling the Commons they were a “bridge too far”.
Glen Thompson, assistant headteacher at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School, said he was thankful Mr Gove had “stopped something there’s no real need for”.
“Personally, I thought it was a bad idea in the first place,” he said.
“He was trying to rush it through too quickly.
“If something’s not right, it needs to be stopped, and for once he’s listened and taken advice.
“Mr Gove has obviously experienced a certain type of education and he’s trying to find a one-size fits all solution.
“But the education sector has to be complex to deal with the variety of needs of hundreds and thousands of many pupils. That’s part of the rich diversity we’ve got.”
Headteacher of Lincoln Castle Academy, Rob Boothroyd, added: “We welcome the news that Mr Gove has reflected on the impact of rapid change on schools.
“The economic development of the region and the country depends on the promotion of many subjects and skills, including business, ICT and technology.
“Teachers want what’s best for students in their care, however, they are increasingly compromised by the intense pace of change, much of which seems regressive and unneccesary”.
Meanwhile, Lincolnshire County Council’s executive councillor for children’s service, Patricia Bradwell, a Conservative, said she was “delighted”.
“We are delighted Michael Gove has made the sensible move and listened to the concerns of everybody in the education sector.
“The changes he was proposing were too much too fast.”
Mr Gove had originally wanted to introduce the Ebacc in the core academic areas of English, maths, science, languages and humanities – either history or geography.
Each would have been handled by a single examination board, which he claimed would prevent the “dumbing down” of exams by their regulators to attract more schools.
He will now focus on reforming the existing GCSE and A-level examinations and introduce changes to the national curriculum.
When Mr Gove first revealed his intentions to replace GCSEs with the Ebacc in September, Tory MP for Lincoln Karl McCartney came to his defence, claiming it would provide a more “solid grounding” for pupils.
And speaking to the Echo following Mr Gove’s u-turn, he said GCSEs and the curriculum “have to change”.
He said: “Instead of replacing GCSEs, we will reform them – creating strong, rigorous, highly-respected qualifications in which students, employers and further and higher education can have full confidence.
“Reformed GCSEs will demand significantly more from pupils, in line with the expectations of high performing countries.
“They will prioritise stretching assessment, which truly tests the depth and breadth of pupils’ knowledge and abilities.
“The new national curriculum will put us on a par with the world’s most successful school systems, including table-toppers such as Finland, Massachusetts and Singapore.
“It will be both challenging and ambitious – focusing tightly on the fundamental building blocks of study so that every child has the knowledge and understanding to succeed.”