Michael Gove U-turn on exam reform
7 February 2013
Commenting on Michael Gove’s climb down on proposals to replace GCSEs with English Baccalaureate Certificates in five key subjects Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“This is really good news. Michael Gove has for once listened to sense. The English Baccalaureate Certificates were universally condemned by everyone from the teaching profession to bodies representing the arts, sport, business, technical and design groups and the education select committee.
“This is a victory for all those who have campaigned against this ill-thought out reform to GCSEs. The Education Secretary must now learn a lesson from this fiasco and consult with those who know far more than he appears to do about education. We need an examination system that is robust and challenging but one which recognises talents and skills that go beyond a limited range of subjects”.
100 organisations sign letter to Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on reform to GCSEs
Press release - 23 January 2013
|Photo: Peter Arkell||
Today, a letter signed by 100 organisations and people representing a broad range of interests, from The National Portrait Gallery to the National Governors Association, will be handed in to Downing Street.
Give Every Child a Chance - Don’t rush to the English Baccalaureate – NUT/NAHT joint campaign
Secondary school exams are currently being reviewed by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. His proposal would replace GCSEs in all the English Baccalaureate subjects (maths, English, sciences, a language and history or geography).
We need an examination system which recognises the talents and skills of all pupils and ensures a broad and balanced curriculum. We do not believe the current proposals for English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs) will do that. By ignoring creative and vocational subjects they will leave many pupils excluded and damage the economic and cultural health of our nation. There will be no assessment other than a three-hour end of course examination for most subjects.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with reviewing the examination system we are very concerned at the haste with which the Government is rushing through this change.
We are calling for the consultation period to be extended in both time and content to ensure that these concerns are addressed before any steps are taken to implement EBCs. This extended consultation should fully engage with the views of parents, students, governors, businesses, teachers, head teachers and other concerned stakeholders before any changes are made.
- To sign our joint petition go to www.ebaccpetition.org.uk or download a printable version here.
- What is the Government proposing?
- What do we think is wrong with the Government’s proposals?
- What would we like to see?
- What we have done
- What we are planning to do
- For a list of organisations and people backing our joint campaign, go here
- The Government’s proposals for an English Baccalaureate would result in GCSEs in the EBacc subjects being replaced by English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs). The EBacc would consist of five core subjects - maths, English, sciences, a language and history or geography.
- The EBacc would not include any vocational education or arts subjects.
- Students who did not pass would only get a record of achievement. This would create a two-tier system. GCSEs would remain in other, non-EBacc subjects, at least in the short term.
- Current indications are that there would be a three hour terminal exam in most subjects, with no modular examinations.
- The new qualifications in English, sciences and maths would start in 2015. There are no start dates yet for the others.
- We are worried that creative and vocational subjects of importance to the cultural and economic health of our nation will be treated as after-thoughts. Many young people may feel the same if their achievements are not recognised.
- There will be no assessment other than a three-hour end of course examination for most subjects.
- The Government is rushing through these proposals despite the public outcry against them. There is nothing wrong with reviewing the examination system but the current consultation is too narrow. The views of parents, students, governors, businesses, teachers, head teachers and other concerned stakeholders need to be fully considered.
- We are worried that getting rid of tiered papers in examinations will not reflect the true abilities of all young people. A single tier for all pupils could lead to exams which neither allow the most able to demonstrate their full abilities nor enable the least able to access many of the questions set.
- We are concerned that a statement of achievement given to young people who do not achieve the EBacc will not reflect their true achievement. This is blatantly a two tier system of success and failure. A statement of achievement will certainly be seen as being of less value by employers and colleges.
- Fuller consideration of the status of such subjects as arts, music, design and vocational education at all levels of the curriculum.
- An examination system which recognises the talents and skills of all pupils and ensures a broad and balanced curriculum.
- An opportunity to consider the outcomes of the forthcoming review of secondary school accountability and the review of the secondary national curriculum before the final design of qualifications is decided.
- Discussion of how children across the achievement range will gain accreditation in any new system, particularly given the proposal for there to be no assessment other than a three-hour end of course examination for most subjects.
- An extended consultation in time and content to address the above concerns before any steps are taken to implement the English Baccalaureate. This extended consultation should fully engage with the views of parents, students, governors, businesses, teachers, head teachers and other concerned stakeholders before any changes are made.
- A survey of members on the EBacc consultation.
- Response to the Government’s consultation.
- Sought and received support for our campaign from a range of academics, MPs, celebrities and other stakeholders.
- Worked with major organisations such as the NAHT, Musicians' Union and Equity.
- Launched the petition.
- Galvanising and seeking the views of parents and learners.
- Keeping the campaign in the public eye through social media, press releases and media outlets.
- Holding focus group meetings with members.
- Continue to seek the support of other stakeholders for our campaign.
The NUT’s own 14-19 policy emphasises the importance of an integrated 14-19 system of education without academic or vocational divisions.