A return to final examinations and an emphasis on Shakespeare and British history feature in what’s been described as the most significant package of GCSE reforms in a generation.
The Education Secretary says that the new qualifications will rein in ‘rampant’ grade inflation and equip the nation’s children to perform in the modern world, the Daily Mail reports.
The new GCSEs, to be taught from September 2015, will be ‘more challenging, more ambitious and more rigorous’. Coursework, which Mr. Gove insisted had ‘corrupted the credibility of grades’, will be abolished except in a few areas like science practicals. Final exams will be graded from eight to one, replacing the current A to G system, and changes in subjects will include:
- in maths, there will be greater emphasis on solving unfamiliar problems
- history will feature a minimum of 40% British history
- in English literature candidates will read whole texts, including a Shakespeare play
- English language will require extended writing, with 20% of marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Mr. Gove’s proposals won unexpected support from Labour MP Diane Abbott, leading him to reply: “I am in love. You are absolutely right.” Her colleagues aren’t as keen, with Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg warning:”Pupils and parents will be concerned by the uncertainty that Michael Gove has created around GCSEs.”
ATL’s Mary Bousted said she was concerned for ‘Mr Gove’s guinea pigs’: “End-of-course exams on a single-day test recall and memory rather than the range of skills that young people need in the 21st century,” she said.
A group of over 100 history teachers has joined the critics of the ‘Gove-levels’. In a letter to The Independent they describe the reforms as ‘jingoistic’ and claim they are a breach of their legal duty to avoid ‘the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school’.
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