The Government revealed on Monday that England is to reform its GCSE tests for teenagers. As of 2015 youngsters will begin courses called ‘English Baccalaureate Certificate’ which will result with tests in 2017.
The reform is expected to only affect the main subjects English, Mathematics and Science, but that over time this will stretch to history, geography and languages.
The announcement came as Education Secretary Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, looked to ways to re-vamp the current educational examination system. The reform aims to have single exams – rather than different modules that run at present – for the end of each course.
The change will also see one examination board being used, which will offer a level platform for assessment and will also avoid competition among different boards that provide the same grade.
The overhaul will initially see the current GCSE exam system being run alongside the new qualifications, as new students will take core subject exams in the form of ‘English Baccalaureate’, with other subjects being tested as GCSEs.
An effort to modernise the system, as well as improve standards and create opportunities – in particular with international education levels – comes as the largest exam shift in decades.
GCSEs were first introduced in 1988, and prior to this there was a two-tier system with O-Levels and CSEs that first came about in the 1950s, where less-able students took CSEs.
Mr. Gove said that GCSEs were designed “for a different age and a different world”, as reported by the BBC, and Mr. Clegg confirmed the view that axing GCSEs would “raise standards for all our children”.
As told by the Evening Standard, the two figureheads involved in this movement claimed that “qualifications which are more rigorous overall and more stretching for the able but which also ensure the overwhelming majority of children can flourish and achieve their full potential.”
The news has not been welcome by all however, with the Labour party, and also teaching unions, expressing the idea will not help move British education forwards.
Stephen Twigg, the Education Secretary for Labour, views the plans as “totally out of date” according to some reports. This follows the fact that there has been recent talks surrounding the last set of GCSE results.
It is believed Wales and Northern Ireland have not agreed to change their exam structure as of yet, and it is unknown whether they will do in the future.
Scotland currently use a separate system to GCSEs and A-Levels, with teenagers taking Standard Grades, Highers and Advanced Highers.
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