GCSEs facing the chop in favour of coursework-free I levels
Details emerged on Monday suggesting that GCSEs in England will be rebranded to be called “Intermediate levels” to avoid confusion with GCSEs in Wales and Northern Ireland, and to distinguish them from the existing exams.
It is expected that by 2015 modular GCSEs in English, maths, science, history and geography will be replaced by single exams sat at the end of two years. Coursework will be eliminated entirely from all subjects except science. Further changes, it has been reported, will be made to the grading system with the traditional A-U grading replaced with numbers, making “8” the top achievable grade.
In the past, Education Secretary Michael Gove has publicly expressed the opinion that the current exam system is too easy. Indeed most recently, the Education Secretary told MPs at the Commons Select Committee of Education last month “we have had a low level of expectations in the past”.
Despite Gove’s statements on the flaws in the current exam system, teaching unions have criticised previous attempts to overhaul the education system and seem set to voice their opposition again. Discussing the reported move away from coursework and the use of module exams, the head of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, argued that the suggested move towards single exams is worrying for “more vulnerable students”.
Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary, rounded on the new proposals saying:
“This is now the third time Michael Gove has tried to abolish GCSEs. He keeps failing because he hasn’t got a thought through plan to improve exams. Changing letters to numbers and the name of the exams is hardly the key to higher standards. We need serious proposals that learn from the best countries in the world. This needs a rigorous focus on English and maths and testing both academic knowledge and the skills that young people will need in the workplace.”
Exams regulator Ofqual refused to comment on the proposed rebranding, with a spokesperson for the organisation describing reports of a move away from GCSEs as “speculation”.