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School head welcomes exams shake-up

A school principal has welcomed planned changes to the exam system which are expected to be unveiled later.

Sally Coates was speaking about changes to be brought in by ministers which aim to bring in tougher O-level style qualifications in place of GCSEs, with exams to be sat by all youngsters, rather than a return to a two-tier system.

Miss Coates' school, Burlington Danes Academy, in White City, west London, was visited by Education Secretary Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

They toured classrooms and greeted pupils going into school before they reveal their plans in the Commons later.

Miss Coates, asked about reports of the planned changes, said: "I would be in favour of new exams such as that. For a long time now we've needed more rigour in our exams, to gain more credibility and catch up with countries all over the world.

"I wouldn't want there to be two tiers, I don't think children should be divided into two different types of exam."

Asked if changes would mean the present system was discredited, she said: "I don't think discredited is the right word. This year there has been a problem with the GCSE, which I hope will be resolved, but I think it's a credible exam, as it stands, but we need to raise the standard.

"In some areas the GCSEs have been too easy, there's been a shortage of essay-type answers in exams, and more short responses."

She accepted that it would be difficult to set one, more rigorous exam for a wide range of abilities, but added: "Good schools will enable all children to pass this qualification."

Burlington Danes Academy is run by the Ark charity.

The roots of the school go back to 1699 and it has been an academy since 2006.

It has 1,200 pupils aged 11 to 18.

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