Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Labour MPs Hit out as GCSEs Given Axe; Exams Replace Coursework in Gove Shake-Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Labour MPs Hit out as GCSEs Given Axe; Exams Replace Coursework in Gove Shake-Up

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green Political Editor ? 0207 219 4389 ? william.green@ncjmedia.co.uk

NORTH East MPs yesterday split along party lines after plans to axe the GCSE exam for 16-year-old children in favour of an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBacc) were confirmed. Education Secretary Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg yesterday jointly announced the new qualification that will see the scrapping of the retaking of "modules", reduce the reliance on coursework and bring back tough end-of-year exams.

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 - with the first courses being introduced in September 2015.

But Labour Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell, who used to be a teacher, said: "There is no evidence that a final exam is more rigorous than coursework.

"If we are to bring out the best in students we need rigorous exams and rigorous coursework. This whole exercise looks like being a step backwards by ignoring the need to test a range of competencies including verbal communication skills and practical skills." Commons education committee member Ian Mearns, who represents Gateshead, accused Mr Gove of being driven by "dogma".

"At a stroke he belittles the progress made in schools over years and writes off the work of teachers and students as not worthy," said the Labour MP.

Shadow Education Minister Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, claimed the plans seemed to be based more on Mr Gove's nostalgia for his own education than any evidence. Last night Ian Grayson, National Union of Teachers (NUT) national executive member for Tyne and Wear, accused Mr Gove of insulting pupils who had taken GCSEs.

He said there was nothing to suggest modular courses were not a good way for pupils to learn and warned it was not in their interests to face a final exam on how much they could remember. …

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