The Education Secretary’s plan is for students to begin studying tougher O-level style exams in English, maths and the sciences from September 2014, taking the first new exams in 2016. Less academic pupils will sit a different, more straightforward exam, like the old CSE. Other plans are for the national curriculum at secondary level to be scrapped, so that heads would decide what pupils should study – as is already the case with new academy schools. The traditional benchmark of pupils getting five good GCSEs is also going to be abolished.
After details were leaked Mr. Gove was summoned to the Commons. He did not confirm the plans directly with MPs, but praised many of the ideas, saying that action was needed because the current exam system is letting children down. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reacted angrily to the plans, saying they would create a ‘two-tier system’ and that it was ‘self-evidently not policy that has been discussed or agreed within the coalition’.
Education experts and the teaching unions have slammed the plans. Dr Mary Bousted from the ATL said: “We question whether Michael Gove really has children’s best interests at heart, or whether his eyes are firmly fixed on test scores for their own sake to push the UK higher up the international education league tables.”
What do you think of the plans – should GCSEs be scrapped?