MPs back GCSE changesBy Jon Nurse
September 27, 2012
A shake-up of the schools exam system has been backed by the borough’s MPs.
John Redwood, Rob Wilson and Dr Phillip Lee have all welcomed Education Secretary Michael Gove’s plans to replace GCSEs in core subjects with an English Baccalaureate qualification.
The new system will assess students in a three-hour exam at the end of a two-year course, rather than the current system of modules, coursework and exams.
Wokingham MP John Redwood said: “As someone who underwent a school and university education based entirely on competitive exams, with no coursework that counted towards the final grade, I have no personal difficulties with a system more heavily based on performance in final exams.
“I do, however, understand this method does not suit all people, and is not the only way to assess someone’s competence and learning.
“In recent years I have worried more about the people who do not perform well in exam conditions.”
English Baccalaureate Certificates will replace GCSEs in English, maths, sciences, languages, history and geography.
Mr Redwood questioned the need for students to sit exams at 16.
He said: “What is a fair test at 16? Indeed, why do we test at 16, when it is no longer the school leaving age in any meaningful sense?
“Are 16-year-old tests a check to ensure the young people have the basic skills to go on to the next stage of their education?
“Or should it mainly be a leaving statement for those who wish to go off to apprenticeships and other practical training?”
Woodley MP Rob Wilson believes “ministers treated parents like fools” under the Labour government which “relentlessly improved results on the basis of grade inflation”.
He added: “These changes are a firm step in the right direction to address grade inflation and falling standards in secondary education.
“They will ensure that young people in Reading East have an exam system that matches the world’s best and prepares them for success in the workplace or university.
“Equally, they will mean that local businesses have access to the skills that they need to thrive.”
Finchampstead MP Dr Lee has also welcomed the changes as “a big step in the right direction”.