Academic journal article Manager

Gcse Change Plans Debated

Academic journal article Manager

Gcse Change Plans Debated

Article excerpt

The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, answered an 'urgent question' in the House of Commons in June, after some details of apparent plans to overhaul the secondary education system in the UK were leaked to sections of the media.

Shadow Education Minister, Kevin Brennan, asked Gove to make a statement on reports that he planned to replace GCSEs with exams more closely resembling former O-Levels and CSEs, as well as replacing current examination boards with single-subject bodies.

"Parents and students have told us that there are weaknesses with current GCSEs, which privilege bite-size learning over deep understanding and gobbets of knowledge over real learning," Gove responded. "Academics have reported that headline improvements in exam results have not been matched by profound improvements in understanding."

"We want to tackle the culture of competitive dumbing down by ensuring that exam boards cannot compete with each other on the basis of how easy their exams are," he added.

Gove also cited "rigorous and respected" exams currently taken in Singapore as an example of the "world-class qualifications" he wanted for the UK in future, and explained that a consultation paper on these concerns would be issued in due course.

Later in June Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Stephen Twigg, then moved an Opposition day debate in the House of Commons, arguing the plans could serve to create a "two-tier exam system'.'

"We know from analysis of the CSE that it was, in practice, a school-leaving certificate for the poor," he said. "We can make GCSEs more rigorous. We do not have to go back to dividing children into sheep and goats at 14."

He also defended the current system with reference to the UK's performance in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), where England was one of seven countries with a higher percentage of students exceeding the advanced international mathematics benchmark than the USA. …

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