Headteachers speak out on Government's exams u-turn

Clive Zimmerman, headteacher of Lydiard Park Academy

Clive Zimmerman, headteacher of Lydiard Park Academy

First published in News by

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.”

Comments (6)

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3:00pm Sat 9 Feb 13

stu2010 says...

Mr Zimmerman would say that, he looks like Tory boy!
Mr Zimmerman would say that, he looks like Tory boy! stu2010
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Sun 10 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

What is wrong with pupils being tested on their knowledge rather than their teachers saying they are up to standard.
What is wrong with pupils being tested on their knowledge rather than their teachers saying they are up to standard. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

1:47pm Sun 10 Feb 13

LocalBob80 says...

RichardR1 wrote:
What is wrong with pupils being tested on their knowledge rather than their teachers saying they are up to standard.
Please.......

Do tell us
[quote][p][bold]RichardR1[/bold] wrote: What is wrong with pupils being tested on their knowledge rather than their teachers saying they are up to standard.[/p][/quote]Please....... Do tell us LocalBob80
  • Score: 0

5:15pm Sun 10 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

Another sparkling contribution LocalBob80.
Another sparkling contribution LocalBob80. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

7:05am Mon 11 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

There is never going to be a perfect way to assess knowledge. The exam system has its faults and one bad day can ruin 2 years of hard work, but also course work that can be done by parents to help their kids get better grades clearly isn't going to work either. The most important part is the teaching of curriculum and also the soft skills to make sure the environment is right for learning. Too many teachers are driven by results or league tables or their arrogance of the way they preach rather than teach.
So it is the combination we need of a good school, good teachers and meaning full qualifications.
There is never going to be a perfect way to assess knowledge. The exam system has its faults and one bad day can ruin 2 years of hard work, but also course work that can be done by parents to help their kids get better grades clearly isn't going to work either. The most important part is the teaching of curriculum and also the soft skills to make sure the environment is right for learning. Too many teachers are driven by results or league tables or their arrogance of the way they preach rather than teach. So it is the combination we need of a good school, good teachers and meaning full qualifications. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

8:26am Mon 11 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

House I certainly agree with your last sentence. I believe that working towards an examination that truly tested your knowledge is the right approach, not being content in the knowledge your course work assessment will see you through regardless.
House I certainly agree with your last sentence. I believe that working towards an examination that truly tested your knowledge is the right approach, not being content in the knowledge your course work assessment will see you through regardless. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

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