Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Schools Poised to Abandon GCSEs

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Schools Poised to Abandon GCSEs

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tim Rose

Independent schools are poised to abandon GCSEs because the exams have been dumbed down to meet Government targets.

David Vanstone, Independent Schools Association chairman, said the Government's refusal to replace GCSEs and A-levels with a diploma system had left schools "in limbo".

Many independent schools are on the brink of deserting GCSEs and teaching 14 and 15 year-olds AS-levels to stretch bright pupils, he said.

Business leaders yesterday condemned the English education system for failing to teach children the 3Rs. About half of employers are unhappy with the poor literacy, numeracy and communication skills among school leavers, according to figures from the CBI.

Director general Sir Digby Jones accused ministers of failing to deliver on their promises to improve English and maths in schools

Nearly 600,000 teenagers are due to receive their GCSE results on Thursday, with experts predicting that the numbers scoring good grades will rise again.

Head of the 300-pupil North Cestrian Grammar School in Altrincham, Mr Vanstone said GCSE coursework in particular was "stultifyingly boring" and open to cheating.

Mr Vanstone said: "We have got the problem that the maths exam in particular is being made less challenging to make sure people get up to pass standards. The Government is struggling ( it is keen to promote an increasing pass rate in both English and maths at GCSE to indicate that progress is being made but it isn't really managing it."

He went on: "One of the problems for the most able people is that they can get to the top grades sometimes as much as a year in advance.

"To move ahead at the pace they should go, people are going to need some further or more difficult tests," he said.

"GCSEs grew out of O-levels and are the national examination for people at 16.

"It would require a very bold move to send someone out into the world without these qualifications. …

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