Tory Grandee Attacks Gove's 'Huge Mistake' on New Exams

Article excerpt

Former Education Secretary Lord Baker says plans for EBacc will not outlive the Government

Children should transfer schools at the age of 14 rather than 11, former Education Secretary Kenneth Baker has proposed in what would be the biggest shake-up to primary and secondary schooling for decades.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Lord Baker argued that his Conservative successor Michael Gove had made "a huge mistake" with his plans for an English Baccalaureate at 16, as it would lead to thousands of pupils switching off schooling in their last two years of compulsory education.

Lord Baker, the architect of a new breed of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) for 14- to 18-year-olds specialising in subjects such as engineering and construction, said the EBacc would leave schools with "a lot of disgruntled youngsters".

His plan for delaying the age at which children move from primary to secondary school - which he proposes in a book soon to be published - is finding growing support among leading educationalists.

Professor Alan Smithers, a senior adviser to the Commons Select Committee on Education and head of Buckingham University's Centre for Education and Employment Research, said: "I think it's a very sensible idea. Many of the more successful industrialised nations follow it."

Labour has set up a task force to examine a radical new curriculum for 14- to 19-year-olds. Stephen Twigg, the party's education spokesman, said: "Even moderate Conservatives now think that Michael Gove's plans will take Britain backwards."

Lord Baker's proposals come as plans have been approved to treble the number of UTCs next year, with 12 opening on top of the five already set up. …