Headteachers' concerns over GCSE switchBy Jonathan Low
October 04, 2012
Headteachers at schools across Bracknell Forest have voiced concerns about proposals to scrap GCSEs.
Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove MP announced plans to introduce the English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBac) in core subjects (initially English and maths), to replace GCSEs.
The EBac would then be gradually introduced for other subjects, including science, modern foreign languages and history.
Gordon Cunningham, headteacher at Easthampstead Park School, in Ringmead, said: “I think for a lot of people the EBac won’t suit them.
“I’m worried the students will be tested on what they remember, not on developing ideas.
“It won’t reflect their abilities. It would only suit a small percentage of young people.”
Assistant headteacher at Crowthorne’s Edgbarrow School, Andy Hinchcliff, said it was too early to tell whether the EBacs were going to be a success.
He added: “We’ve got a good curriculum already, which is inclusive, and we wouldn’t want a system that would damage that.
“I think we need to see the flesh on them first to see if they are favourable to GCSEs.”
However, Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee said: “These changes are a big step in the right direction and will ensure that young people in Bracknell have an exam system that matches the world’s best and prepares them for success in the workplace.
“Equally, they will mean that local businesses have access to the skills that they need to thrive.”
The changes to the examination system is a bid to drive up standards after accusations that the GCSE qualification had become ‘dumbed down’.
They will come in for pupils who have recently started in Year Seven.
Under the EBac, students would take a three hour exam at the end of two years, instead of completing modules and coursework over the same period.
This year, there were issues surrounding the marking of the GCSE English exams, after the marking boundaries were changed in January, leading to claims that thousands of students missed out on their desired and predicted grades.
Mr Cunningham said some of his pupil’s papers were being re-marked.
He added: “It’s frustrating for students, as some are doing retakes in November.
“We were only told the boundaries had been changed when the results came through in August.
“The teachers are concerned and saddened for the students.”
The EBac is already taught in some schools, however, according to a survey by teachers’ union NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers), 14 per cent of those questioned said jobs had been lost in their school as a result of its introduction.
General secretary of the union, Chris Keates, said: “The test for any educational reform should be whether it will raise standards.
“This is yet another hasty, ill-thought-out change and yet again it will be children and young people who will be the losers.”