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MPs: Separate exam systems would be 'regrettable'

MPs have raised concerns about any plans for separate exams systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, saying such a move would be "regrettable".

According to a new report by the Commons education select committee, all three nations should continue to run GCSEs and A-levels.

It also urged ministers to "do everything possible to bring this about".

Pupils sit a GCSE maths exam
Pupils sit a GCSE maths exam Credit: Press Assocation

The call, in a report into last summer's GCSE English controversy, comes just weeks after Education Secretary Michael Gove wrote to his counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland suggesting that differences in exams reform mean that it is time for the countries to go their separate ways.

The cross-party group of MPs also said that ministers and England's exams regulator Ofqual must pay close attention to expert opinion on exams as they overhaul the system, and not ignore warning voices if concerns are raised.

GCSE English grade problems due to 'avoidable errors'

A report by MPs into last summer's GCSE English grading problems has blamed the controversy on poorly designed qualifications and a "series of avoidable errors".

It has been claimed that tens of thousands of teenagers received lower results than expected after grade boundaries were moved mid-year.

The report blamed some of the GCSE English problems on the "development phase". Credit: Press Assocation

The Commons education select committee said that a "series of avoidable errors" were made under the previous government when the new courses were being developed.

The report said: "Several of the problems with GCSE English can be traced to the qualifications development phase".

"This underlines the vital importance of getting decisions right during qualifications design. Exam board experts raised concerns at the time, but these were not acted upon by the regulator.

"One of the crucial lessons to be learned from this episode is that Ofqual and ministers should listen when concerns are raised during qualification development, especially when they come from specialists in the field."


Labour: Gove ‘keeps on failing’ to reform GCSEs

Stephen Twigg
Stephen Twigg has attacked Education Secretary Michael Gove. Credit: PA/PA Wire

Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary, has launched an attack on Michael Gove amid reports that GCSEs could be replaced by ‘I-levels’.

"This is now the third time Michael Gove has tried to abolish GCSEs," said the Labour MP.

“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.”

Read: GCSEs 'to be replaced by I-levels’

GCSEs 'to be replaced by I-levels’

A dramatic overhaul of GCSEs put forward by regulator Ofqual could see the exam replaced by the Intermediate Level – or I-level – which will be graded on a scale of 1 to 8.

The Times reports the new assessment will not include any marked coursework, apart from 10% in science subjects, and opportunities to re-sit exams will be considerably reduced.

Exams will take place in the summer, other than English and maths exams in November, meaning pupils might only have the opportunity to re-take the tests a full year later at the age of 17.

Education Secretary Michael Gove had put forward the creation of an English Baccalaureate Certificate.


GCSE results 2012: Lowest 10 schools in England

These are the bottom 10 state schools at GCSE ranked by the percentage of candidates getting at least five A* to C-grades, including English and maths. Lowest performing school is at the top.

  • Pate's Grammar School, Cheltenham
  • The Rushden Community College
  • Barnfield Business and Enterprise Studio Academy
  • The Mablethorpe Tennyson High School
  • Swaffham Hamond's High School
  • Endeavour High School Kingston-upon-Hull
  • Christ The King Catholic and Church of England Centre for Learning, Liverpool
  • Skerton Community High School, Lancaster
  • The Manor - A Foundation School, Cambridge
  • The Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate

A/AS Level results 2012: Top 10 schools in England

These are the top 10 schools in England for A/As Level ranked by the average points score per student. For example, an A-level grade A* scores 300 points, an A scores 270 points, a B scores 240 points, a C scores 210.

  • Colchester Royal Grammar School, Essex
  • King's College School, Merton
  • Sevenoaks School, Kent
  • Adcote School for Girls, Shropshire
  • King Edward VI Grammar School, Essex
  • Pate's Grammar School, Cheltenham
  • Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Trafford
  • The Lady Eleanor Holles School, Richmond-Upon-Thames
  • King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham
  • King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, Birmingham

GCSE results 2012: Top 10 schools in England

100% of pupils at the following schools in England had pupils with five good GCSEs (five A*-C passes). The average GCSE point score per pupil ranges from 816.3 at Colyton Grammar School to 684.1 in the tenth ranked school in Headington.

  • Colyton Grammar School, Devon
  • The Rochester Grammar School, Medway
  • King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, Birmingham
  • Lawrence Sheriff School, Warwickshire
  • King Edward VI Five Ways School, Birmingham
  • Skipton Girls' High School, North Yorkshire
  • Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Trafford
  • Invicta Grammar School, Kent
  • King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford
  • Headington School, Oxford
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