Heads voice fears over new exams

This Is Wiltshire: Heads voice fears over new exams Heads voice fears over new exams

CHANGES to the way pupils are examined at the end of their secondary school education have divided opinion among head- teachers.

The GCSE exams for 16-year-old children in England, which were introduced in the 1980s, are to be replaced by an English Baccalau-reate Certificate, with the first courses to begin in September 2015.

The new qualification will scrap the retaking of modules, reduce reliance on coursework and bring back tough end-of-year exams.

Dorcan Academy headteacher Scott Sissons said: “It is a big step backwards.

GCSEs have seen students’ results go up over the past 20 years, that is partly because of pressure on schools through league tables but mainly because the quality of teaching in schools has improved.

“Students and parents are much more motivated and have higher aspirations.

“GCSEs work. I don’t see very much evidence at all, apart from comparisons to some unusual countries abroad, that show GCSEs aren’t appropriate.

“I am concerned about the type of qualifications that are being proposed because they are much more academic qualifications that will suit a small minority of children.

“My concern is the new exam will focus on recall of knowledge.

“Nowadays, if people need to know things they Google it. The skill of being able to remember lots of information is not one society needs in the same way it might have done 50 years ago.”

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.

Wendy Conaghan, the headteacher of Kingsdown School , said: “The idea they are going to restrict the number of exam boards is good because there are always concerns of quality assurance.

“There are other bits about the new exams that worry me. My background is in mathematics. If there is going to be one three-hour exam that the children sit at the end of it there is going to be a problem.

“The A* candidates will sit there and have a go at every single bit but the other children will sit there and not be able to attempt 50 per cent of the exam.

“I can’t see how that is a positive experience for any student. I don’t see that having a one-tier system for all students will be a good idea.”

Churchfields Academy headteacher Steve Flavin said the challenge will be keeping current GCSE students motivated.

He said: “It is clear that the GCSE examination needs changing. The exam has served schools and students well since its introduction.

“However, what is clear is that for many reasons parents, employees and higher education institutions have lost confidence in the GCSE as a national measure of attainment.

“My view is that the GCSE is a good exam because it provides a level playing field for all students and is not an easy exam to pass.

“The challenge for schools and teachers is to continue to motivate the children who are currently taking the GCSE examination, which includes all secondary aged pupils from Year 8 onwards.”

Jane Cordes, the headteacher of St Lukes School, said: “As a special school headteacher for pupils with behaviour, emotional and social difficulties, the traditional curriculum or testing is not conducive to most of the cohort.

“I am concerned that SEN pupils will become the ‘lost children’ and I hope to continue to deliver our school ethos – ‘Arrive with a past, leave with a future’ – through a curriculum that best meets their needs.”

Comments (5)

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9:59am Wed 19 Sep 12

swindondad says...

The current examination system is overly confusing with, GCSE’s, AS/A levels, BTEC, Diplomas and NVQ’s to name but a few of the options available. Potential employers almost need to take a college course just to rate the qualifications of the job applicants.
The Ebac is a step back, to a time when an "O" level was an exam pass to be proud of. There have always been tests for those who are not as academic (CSE) and these will return in some form.
The reform of the education system does not go far enough as the system now tries to push too many into further education when it should be more about equipping them for the adult world (hopefully of work). In some ways the old 3 tier education system had a lot going for it.
The current examination system is overly confusing with, GCSE’s, AS/A levels, BTEC, Diplomas and NVQ’s to name but a few of the options available. Potential employers almost need to take a college course just to rate the qualifications of the job applicants. The Ebac is a step back, to a time when an "O" level was an exam pass to be proud of. There have always been tests for those who are not as academic (CSE) and these will return in some form. The reform of the education system does not go far enough as the system now tries to push too many into further education when it should be more about equipping them for the adult world (hopefully of work). In some ways the old 3 tier education system had a lot going for it. swindondad
  • Score: 0

10:26am Wed 19 Sep 12

RichardR1 says...

swindondad I agree totally with your comments.

I was slightly concerned about comments indicating that a level playing field was indeed that, more gifted children are held back by such a notion.

As for the mention of SEN pupils, there are many in Education that admit there is far too many pupils being label SEN to be a reality.

Putting children in boxes in early life of itself will lead to their stigmatisation in later life.
swindondad I agree totally with your comments. I was slightly concerned about comments indicating that a level playing field was indeed that, more gifted children are held back by such a notion. As for the mention of SEN pupils, there are many in Education that admit there is far too many pupils being label SEN to be a reality. Putting children in boxes in early life of itself will lead to their stigmatisation in later life. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

12:45pm Wed 19 Sep 12

1 2 Could B says...

What box were you in?
What box were you in? 1 2 Could B
  • Score: 0

3:54pm Wed 19 Sep 12

Robh says...

GCSE's were always a nearly qualification which did not indicate how much you knew just mainly what you'd done. It was a cobble up between GCE and CSE because employers did not understand the relevance of CSE mainly because it was not promoted as an achievement but mearly seen as a qualification for those who were GCE."failures".

The SEN kids got lost by the education system which is geared to academic achievement and has no relevance to practical ability.

The whole system as it stands is failing over 60% of kids who are not academics and dulling down the ability and achievements of the top 30%.
GCSE's were always a nearly qualification which did not indicate how much you knew just mainly what you'd done. It was a cobble up between GCE and CSE because employers did not understand the relevance of CSE mainly because it was not promoted as an achievement but mearly seen as a qualification for those who were GCE."failures". The SEN kids got lost by the education system which is geared to academic achievement and has no relevance to practical ability. The whole system as it stands is failing over 60% of kids who are not academics and dulling down the ability and achievements of the top 30%. Robh
  • Score: 0

9:41pm Wed 19 Sep 12

itsamess3 says...

The GCE system was a far better guage of abilities and the potential to gain academic and technical qualifications and separating the wheat from the chaff as having achieved the O levels the A levels beckoned and if successful a whole host of options became available for a host of occupations with OND/HND and places at uni to hopefully gain respected degrees in most areas.
Todays system is a farce with illiterate folk having qualifications that do not reflect in reality the needs to achieve qualifications that actually are respected.
The GCE system was a far better guage of abilities and the potential to gain academic and technical qualifications and separating the wheat from the chaff as having achieved the O levels the A levels beckoned and if successful a whole host of options became available for a host of occupations with OND/HND and places at uni to hopefully gain respected degrees in most areas. Todays system is a farce with illiterate folk having qualifications that do not reflect in reality the needs to achieve qualifications that actually are respected. itsamess3
  • Score: 0

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