UK & World News
Education Shake-Up: EBaccs To Replace GCSEs
The GCSE exam for 16-year-old children in England is to be replaced by an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBacc), the Education Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed.
The new qualification will scrap the retaking of "modules", reduce reliance on coursework, and bring back tough end-of-year exams.
The education overhaul, the biggest in a generation, was announced by Mr Gove in the House of Commons.
Mr Gove told MPs the GCSE exam was conceived and designed for a different age and world, adding that the overhaul was designed to end the competition between exam boards.
He said the single exam would mean pupils were "tested transparently on what they and they alone can do at the end of years of deep learning".
"It is time for the race to the bottom to end. We believe it is time to tackle grade inflation and dumbing down. We believe it is time to raise aspirations and restore rigour," he said.
Children of all abilities will take the EBacc and there will be only one exam board for each subject, in order to prevent competition between boards to deliver tests which are easier to pass.
Ahead of Mr Gove's address to the Commons, details of the overhaul were disclosed in a joint article with Mr Clegg in the Evening Standard newspaper.
Mr Gove and Mr Clegg wrote: "We believe that if we remove modules and reduce coursework, get rid of the factors that encourage teaching to the test and, above all, ensure there is just one exam board for each subject, we can restore faith in our exams and equip children for the challenges of the 21st century."
Teaching of the new English, maths and science certificates will begin in September 2015, with the first pupils receiving EBacc rather than GCSE qualifications in 2017.
Other subjects, including history, geography and languages, will follow.
Mr Gove and Mr Clegg said the EBacc will become a "near-universal qualification" taken by almost all English schoolchildren.
After initial divisions, Mr Gove and Mr Clegg agreed on plans to make exams tougher for 15 and 16-year-olds in order to address concerns about "dumbing down".
It is understood that he and Mr Gove have worked closely over the summer to find common ground.
The changes follow controversy over the grading of this year's GCSE English exams after the threshold required to obtain a grade C was raised between January and June.
Responding to Mr Gove's announcement in the Commons, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg told MPs that ditching coursework was "totally out of date".
"The education leaving age is rising to 18. We need to face the challenges of the 21st century," he said.
"But I simply don't accept that we achieve that by returning to a system abolished as out of date in the 1980s.
"Instead, we need a system that promotes rigour and breadth, and prepares young people for the challenges of the modern economy."