GCSEs making the headlines again

It was revealed today some more details about what Mr Gove’s planning to do to destroy … i mean reform our GCSEs. Here are details of the key changes;

Under the current GCSE system, the courses are modular with coursework and/or exams. These exams are taken throughout the course at the end of each module. Under the reforms, the modular courses are to be scrapped, new course content introduced, exams will contain more demanding essay-style questions and will be taken at the end of the 2 year course.

Grading is also facing a change from the current A*-G system, to a numerical version from 8 – 1, with the pass mark being pushed higher. This seems a little pointless to me as you can easily see that A* = 8 and so on. The only thing this will do is make it easier to get a combined score of points which will be easier to add up, in comparison to the current points score each grade is worth.

How schools are measured based on GCSEs also faces a change, although this part is still under consultation. Currently schools are measured by the number of pupils achieving 5 A*-C grades, including English and Maths. Under the new proposals, schools could be measured on the number of pupils meeting an attainment threshold in English and Maths, and the average range of point scores would be measured from 8 GCSE results rather than 5.

There are some things being kept the same though. Mulitple exam boards looks set to remain, meaning that exam boards are still competing against each other, and the 2 year time period is also being retained. Some of the non-core GCSE subjects will remain the same for now, although these will be reformed later. The current reform applies to English, Maths, Science, History, and Geography.

Timescale is an issue here, these changes are being hastily brought in, and plenty of them. These reforms are expected to be introduced in 2015, 2 years away. This leaves exam boards and Ofqual and the DfE with very little time to prepare the planned new course content and exams.

What do you think? Is Mr Gove trying to build a competitive education system, or is he simply destroying it?

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