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Mixed response to Government plans over GCSE system from Bradford education experts
Plans to axe GCSEs and replace them with an English Baccalaureate Certificate has been met with opposition by some education experts in Bradford.
Ministers said the change would deliver “more rigorous” testing at 16, and involves scrapping retakes, significantly reducing amounts of coursework and completely abolishing it in the core subjects, in favour of tougher end of year exams.
But Councillor Ralph Berry , Bradford Council’s executive member responsible for education, fears many children, who are not good at exams, will suffer.
He said: “I have considerable concerns about these changes.
“Government has gone out of its way to damage the system. There has not been a running down of standards. This Government wants to create a system which defines more failures.
“These changes do not address varied learning. Not all children learn in the same way and Government has already damaged young people by changing the way the maths courses are run half way through.
“We seem to be witnessing political mugging of our system. There is no evidence that there is a problem with our exam system.”
Education Secretary Michael Gove, announcing the proposed changes said modules and extensive coursework undermined the credibility of the qualifications, leaving young people “without the rigorous education they deserved” and amounted to “spoon-feeding”.
He said: “We know record increases in performance at GCSE have not been matched by the same level of improvements in learning – while pass rates have soared we have fallen down international education league tables.”
The new exams will be introduced first for English, maths and the sciences with the first exams taken in 2017. Other subjects will follow later.
To pass the full English Baccalaureate students would need to succeed in English, maths, science, a language and humanities subject. Mr Gove also announced less able pupils would be able to sit the exams at 17 or 18.
Bradford East MP David Ward, who sits on the Commons education select committee, welcomed the fact earlier plans for a rigid two-tier system – bringing back CSE-style exams, were dropped – but said scrapping coursework was a mistake.
He said: “I am pleased Nick Clegg has ensured there will not be two qualifications whereby some pupils take O-levels and others take CSEs. But I am not actually that happy with what Mr Gove has announced.
“I am not in favour of single form assessment. If you have a two-year course and it all depends on sitting exams at the end, that is a throw back.”
Ian Murch, Bradford spokesman for the National Union of Teachers, said: “It’s not that there was nothing wrong with the system as it was, but this has been a root and branch change without consulting anyone who works in the system, it’s just down to Michael Gove’s own personal views.”