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Headteachers speak out on Government's exams u-turn
HEADTEACHERS have voiced their opinions about the Government’s u-turn on plans to scrap GCSEs in key subjects and replace them with English Baccalaureate Certificates.
On Thursday, education secretary Michael Gove announced that GCSEs will be retained and plans for the new qualification, which were announced in Septem-ber, are being scrapped.
The reversal comes despite the exams being previously condemned by the education secretary.
Lydiard Park Academy headteacher Clive Zimmer-man said: “I don’t think it is as humiliating a u-turn as people are saying.
“The reason for that is the idea of an EBacc where your pupils have to study English, maths, science, history, geography and languages is still very much there.
“He has just had to do a u-turn on renaming them. He is still planning on making them harder.
“Yes it was his flaghip idea and he had to back down a little bit but most of it is still there.”
Under the plans for GCSEs revealed on Thursday, there will be multiple exam boards, a new national curriculum, reduced coursework and most exams will be taken after two years, rather than modules, and there will be less structured and more essay-style questions.
“In some ways he has actually gone slightly further down that line because he has announced he will be looking at how many pupils don’t just get those five key subjects but actually how many get eight of the traditional subjects at GCSE,” said Mr Zimmerman.
“There were some strong arguments that GCSEs needed to be reviewed.
“I still feel there are some things that need tackling. One of the things he has done is try to reduce the number of alternative qualifications such as BTECs.
“He has tried to tackle that but I don’t think he has gone far enough. I welcome the fact he is going to focus on traditional subjects. It is what employers want and it is what is going to get the pupils the furthest.”
Children of all abilities would have taken the EBacc and there was only going to be one exam board for each subject.
Ridgeway School headteacher Steve Colledge said he welcomed the cancellation of the EBacc system but agreed changes needed to be made to the current GCSE system.
“We have found that the current system with lots of controlled assessments interrupts learning in depth,” he said.
“It is important that we have a system of examinations that allows all sorts of learners to achieve.
“If you make one system totally exam-based with essay questions then one sort of learner benefits but another sort of learner who is equally able suffers.
“We are in schools to try and nurture pupils and find their talent. We need to give them the best life chance they can have.
“I hope the assessment system we finally get takes note of all learners.”
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