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The Education Secretary has announced that he wants to bring back a system similar to the O-Levels, with CSEs for less able pupils.
Under the plans, the national curriculum will be scrapped altogether - leaving head teachers free to decide what to teach - and one exam board will be chosen to set the papers for English, maths and science. But the biggest potential change is the idea that there will no longer be a universal GCSE qualification.
Sources say Michael Gove believes GCSEs have been "dumbed down and compromised" because of "rampant" grade inflation.
If the plan goes ahead, students would begin studying what the leaked document says will be "tougher" O-level style exams in English, maths and the sciences from September 2014. They would take their exams in 2016.
Less academic pupils would sit a different "more straight forward" exam, like the old CSE.
The ideas, if introduced, would amount to the biggest change to the exams system for a generation.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has reacted angrily saying they would create a "two-tier system".
He went on to say:
"It's really important we have an exam system that's fit for the future, and doesn't just hark back to the past.”
Labour, shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan said:
"GCSEs may well need improving, but a two-tier exam system which divides children into winners and losers at 14 is not the answer."
Mr Gove was called to parliament to answer questions about the leaks, and stated that rigour needed to be restored to the system if England was to keep pace with educational improvements in some other countries.
The general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, welcomed the move towards having a single exam board per subject, which he said was sensible and would "remove a lot of concerns about the system". But he also said that a move towards a two-tier system would be detrimental to children’s futures.
We at ABDS will keep you informed of any further developments.
If you need any help and advice on Schools and or Charities, contact ABDS to discuss how we can help.
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