Baccalaureate replaces GCSEs

The GCSE exam for 16-year-old children in England is to be replaced by an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBacc), with the first courses to begin in September 2015, it was announced today.

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Teaching union chief says exam changes are 'entirely driven by political ideology'

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, has said that Michael Gove has embarked on a "cynical and wholly unjustifiable" attempt to discredit GCSEs.

She added that today's proposals to replace GCSEs with an English Baccalaureate Certificate were "entirely driven by political ideology rather than a genuine desire on the part of the coalition Government to reform the examination system in the best interests of children and young people".

A further deep concern is the plight of those young people set to take GCSEs in the next two years.

They have now been told publicly that the exams for which they are working on are discredited and worthless.

The actions of the Secretary of State in this regard are unacceptable and the lack of concern for the impact and motivation of young people and teachers working towards GCSEs is disgraceful.

– Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT

GCSEs to be replaced by English Baccalaureate

The GCSE exam for 16 year old children in England is to be replaced by an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBacc), with the first courses to begin in September 2015, it was announced today.

The new qualification will scrap the modules retakes and aim to reduce reliance on coursework.

Children of all abilities will take the EBacc and there will be only one exam board for each subject.

Education Secretary Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

We need a new set of exams for students at the age of 16 - qualifications which are more rigorous and more stretching for the able, but which will ensure the majority of children can flourish and achieve their full potential.

The announcement was made in a joint article in the Evening Standard several hours before Mr Gove was due to outline his plans in a statement to the House of Commons.

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Former Schools' Minister: Labour can't block GCSE changes

Nick Gibb, who was an education minister until the reshuffle, has said that Labour would not be able to block proposed changes to the GCSE exams in England, if it won the election in 2015.

Former Schools Minister Nick Gibb. Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

"Well, [Labour] won’t be able to because schools will already be preparing for it from September 2014. They won’t be the government in 2014", Mr Gibb told BBC News.

"If – and I hope it doesn’t happen – they win the election in 2015, schools will already be prepared and it will be too late for the government to change the policy."

Institute of Directors: GCSE reforms 'double win' for economy

The director general of the Institute of Directors has welcomed proposed changes to the exam system for students in England, due to be announced later today. Simon Walker said:

This announcement will undoubtedly help to shore up confidence in the British education system.

Business leaders want a stronger curriculum and more rigorous exams, and these measures are welcome progress towards delivering that.

Well-targeted education reforms are a double win for the economy, giving young people a better chance in life and equipping the nation with an even more capable workforce.

Labour: Returning to O-level is a 'big mistake'

Kevin Brennan, Shadow Minister for Schools has told ITV Wales that he understands "there is a need for reform", but that it should not be an "imposed view" from Education Secretary Michael Gove, who will unveil GCSE reform plans later today.

Kevin Brennan, Labour MP for Cardiff West. Credit: ITV Wales

Mr Brennan said that "proper consultations" were needed with everyone concerned, and that a potential return to O-level exams would be a "big mistake".

Watch the full interview at ITV Wales.

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Teachers' association: GCSE plans should be 'left to professionals'

GCSE reforms should be "left to professionals", Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), has said. The new examination regime is due to be announced later today.

etails of a new examination regime to replace GCSEs will be announced today. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Mr Johnson said: "A new exam certainly should not be designed on the back of a restaurant menu as a short-term political fix by ignorant ministers.

"This is an insult to the nation's children who will have to live with the consequences if the crackpot ideas are implemented."

Welsh Government 'won't be rushed' into GCSE changes

The Welsh Government says any decision on the future of GCSEs in Wales 'cannot be rushed' and must be based on the findings of a review into the exam system.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said:

“As always, our priority will be to ensure that the best interests of our learners are the focus of any decisions that we take.

In Wales we will be taking an evidence based approach through our Review of 14-19 Qualifications. This is a decision that cannot be rushed and Welsh Ministers are committed to not making significant changes to GCSEs until after the outcomes of the Review are known.

Labour: Gove risks return to two-tier exam system

New GCSE exam reforms could risk a return to a two-tier system, Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg responded today. Mr Twigg said:

The problem with these changes are they are totally out of date, from a Tory-led Government totally out of touch with modern Britain.

Whatever the reassurances, this risks a return to a two-tier system which left thousands of children on the scrap heap at the age of 16.

Schools do need to change as all children stay on in education to 18 and we face up to the challenges of the 21st Century. We won't achieve that with a return to the 1980s.

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