UK & World News
GCSE Plans 'Could Harm Less Able Pupils'
Plans to axe GCSEs in England could fail to help less able pupils and leave some subjects with discredited qualifications, MPs have warned.
The Commons Education Select Committee agrees that significant improvements are needed.
But it claims the Government has failed to prove its case for scrapping the qualification.
GCSEs will be replaced by English Baccalaureate Certificates, with teaching beginning in 2015, and the first exams in English, maths and sciences taking place in 2017.
GCSEs in history, geography and languages will be replaced by EBCs at a later date, and GCSEs are set to remain in other subjects.
Committee chair Graham Stuart warned ministers they could be being too hasty.
"Slow down a little. Don't allow educational reform, which has impact for generations to come, don't let that be driven by a political timetable."
Education secretary Michael Gove has said the changes will modernise the exam system.
But Jacques Szemalikowski, head teacher of Hampstead School in north London, is not so sure.
"The Secretary of State says the idea of a risk is not a reason not to proceed, well I agree with that, but at the same time we need something that is coherent, that has a logic and an underpinning philisophy, in terms of making our education system compete with the best, and not back to the future."
English teacher David Robson is worried the Government could be gambling with children's futures.
"If you've got some students and everyone a year older than them have done a different qualification, where does it put those students when going into the job market? Where does it put them now in terms of preparing for the future?
"So I think it's unsettling in many ways, and obviously any year group who are going to be the first wave in any system, in a sense you're going to be the guinea pigs."
The committee said there was a "lack of coherence" about the Government's approach to reforming the curriculum, qualifications and the school accountability system.
It warned that the reforms could have a negative impact on subjects that will remain GCSEs.
It also suggested the Government should focus on improving the achievement of the "significant minority" that do not achieve five good GCSEs, rather than considering plans to introduce a Statement of Achievement for lower-attaining pupils.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We have been clear that the secondary education system is in desperate need of a thorough overhaul - an objective with which the committee agrees.
"That is why we are making major changes to ensure we have world class exams that raise standards."
what do you think?
if they are unable to pass the exam then good. it means that the one's who do will have something of worth raher than the inclusive policy of giving exam results to everyone, regardless of if they actually achieved them or not. Now, look at the teachers and the education system - if the pupils are failing look at the people teaching them and how they're teaching them... make an exam something to which you aspire instead of catering to the lowest common denominator
Simon agree in part but the issue with the teachers is debatable as there are some students who just do not want to learn this is an area of debate. All that said I do agree if you are to get a qualification make it worth having otherwise just give everyone a piece of paper.
Not educating kids properly damages their future. Currently they can achieve a grade C by only scoring around 50%, that is poor, the whole system needs a kick up the backside. The grades have to be higher, A 90%, A+ 95%, B 80%, B+ 85%, C 70%, C+ 75% and that's it, you don't achieve that then you fail.
In my day the brighter kids did O'levels the less able CSE it seemed to work. The GCSEs have never seemed to.
Few years before my time but it seemed to be a good system. Allowing the less academic children to be successful but in other maybe more practical subjects. Also, I remember comparing my GCSE's to previous O'levels exam papers - GCSE's were easier, even back then.
Bring back the old system but then of course the argument was it is bad for the less able so they had a system where the bright ones were reduced to the lowest denominator - so much for experts
Like this government gives a monkeys about the less abled. I fear what lies a head academically for my 5 year old in the future.
Your 5 year old will be good at something.its just a matter of finding that something and then encouraging that something to its full potential.not every kid can be good accademically but brilliant at art.maybe even a future picasso or music and a future jools holland.thats why i think there should be different exams for different subjects.
There should be different exams for different subjects i think, as different subjects vary so much in different types of abilitys.maths english, history' geography, for example under one exam.woodwork , metalwork.home economics, under another there could even be an exam for physical education.this way every kid would hopefully excel at something.
With my idea with exams in wouldnt disclude pupils who have dyslexia or even autism and other learning disabilitys who cant do things academically but can excel at drawing at something else.in other words my dream school would not just cater for those who can just write things down well.as it currently is.
Yer that is (kinda) how it used to be Shaun. Worked fine
All governments over the years have messed about with the education system and they have all made a mess of it. They need to go back fifty years when teachers could teach all subjects as they were well educated people. Students had to learn the subjects to pass the exams and not learn how to pass the test .A levels and O levels ment something
Paul that is why we have universities that have undermined the degree - the whole system is a sausage machine
There will never be progress in education standards until successive governments stop using the education system to groom kids to be politcal supporters and voters for their own agendas.
I get the impression that Michael Grove is more concerned with his legacy than he is with the well being of Britain's students
You are talking about Michael Gove...he is a Tory politician...HE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT CHILDREN, HE CARES ABOUT HIS POLITICAL AMBITIONS. Is this not obvious?
At the end of the day it's jobs that count. Every year we see kids all jumping excitedly around have received positive exam results only to be let down by not getting a job. Employers want skills not paper qualifications. I believe schools and colleges should concentrate mainly on such skills which can be used in the worplace such as Plumbing, House Decorating, Electricity Installation/Repair, Hairdressing, Automotive Repair, Nursing and Childcare. Subjects such as Religious Studies should be eliminated and Sports or Music should be limited to only the gifted few.