The Education Select Committee has warned against a rush towards separate exam systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and has recognised that exam reform has put relations between ministers ‘clearly under strain’.
In a new report the Commons Education Select Committee has called on the three nations to carry on running GCSEs and A-levels, and urged ministers to ‘do everything possible to bring this about’, Wales Online reports.
Last month Michael Gove wrote to his counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland, stating that ‘the time is right for us to acknowledge’ that the three nations can no longer work together on qualifications and that his reforms are ‘leading to very different qualifications in Wales and Northern Ireland from those I believe are right for young people in England’. Currently GCSEs and A-levels are set to the same standards across all three countries.
Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews responded: “Since Wales and Northern Ireland are keeping GCSEs, AS and A-levels, what is Michael Gove going to call his qualifications in England? One of the benefits of devolution is that it allows England to be a laboratory for experiments.”
In the report, which also examined the causes and impact of last year’s GCSE English debacle, the Select Committee recognised the divide: “Relations between ministers in England and Wales are clearly under strain, as the era of three-country qualifications and regulation appears to be coming to an end. We believe that such an outcome would be regrettable and hope that even at this stage the joint ownership of GCSEs and A-levels will continue.”
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