How do the new GCSE plans compare to the E-Bacc?

Education Secretary Michael Gove who has been forced to abandon his flagship plan to scrap GCSEs and replace them with a new English Baccalaureate. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The Education Secretary has been forced to abandon his flagship plans to introduce the English Baccalaureate Certificate and instead focus on revamping the existing GCSE model.

Michael Gove said the plans had been “a bridge too far” and instead wanted to “concentrate on reforming existing GCSEs”. The proposals announced in September 2012, unveiled a shake up of the GCSE exams that would contain many elements of the previously proposed EBC.

The new plans are set to be rolled out from September 2015, with the first exams to take place in 2017.

Under the different proposals:

E-Bacc plans:

  • The new baccalaureate certificate was billed as having a far tougher syllabus with little coursework.
  • Exams taken after two years instead of at the end of modules.
  • Plans to force each exam board to bid for a “franchise” to run one subject therefore reducing competition between exam boards.
  • A focus on core subjects: English, Science, maths followed by languages, history and geography.

GCSE reforms proposed today:

  • The GCSE brand is retained.
  • Exams will be taken at the end of two years rather than the current modular formula.
  • Plans to reduce the role played by coursework.
  • Multiple exam boards are retained.
  • A focus on longer essay-style questions in English and history whilst maths and science will involve more problem solving.
  • Extension papers in maths and science are planned for high-achievers.
  • Existing league tables will be axed because of concerns they focus on “borderline” pupils with a new eight subject measure of performance introduced instead.