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Plan to scrap GCSE's gets lukewarm reception in East Lancashire
6:21pm Monday 17th September 2012 in News
A SHAKE-UP of GCSEs with a single exam, fewer top grades and one board for each main subject has got a lukewarm reception from East Lancashire headteachers while unions have warned the moves will be a step backwards.
David Whyte, principal of Blackburn’s St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy and Janet Walsh, head of Colne Primet High School, welcomed moving away from the “re-sit” culture of coursework-based qualifications but expressed concern that not all subjects were suitable for single exam assessment.
Brendan Loughran, principal of Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, said: “It’s high time we had a good look at how we assess our young people’s performance. Now we need a sensible consultation on all this.”
However Sam Ud-din, National Union of Teachers Lancashire secretary, said: “This is bad news. It is not just a step backwards, it is a step downwards.”
Under the plans announced yesterday, pupils who begin secondary school this year will be the first to take the revised exams in 2017.
The current system of assessing individual “modular “ units of a course will be replaced by a single three-hour final exam with one exam board for each major subject. It will be more difficult to get the highest A* and A grades.
Mr Whyte said: “A single exam board is a good idea. I am in favour of reducing the emphasis on modular and rolling assessment of coursework for some subjects where it has created a “resit culture” with some students. But not all subjects are suitable for a single test. Schools must not become exam factories and lose our role producing rounded individuals.”
Mrs Walsh said: “This is good in parts. A single exam board and less emphasis on complicated coursework assessment is good. We need to end the “resit” culture, but not return to the old O-level GCSE divide. We need to prepare our pupils for the world of work. We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Mike Damms, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “I am in favour of a single exam board to compare like with like and a more rigorous exam-based system but we need to measure the employability skills important to business.”
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