Government will not be scrapping GCSEs, education secretary says

Government will not be scrapping GCSEs, education secretary says


Government will not be scrapping GCSEs, education secretary says

Government will not be scrapping GCSEs, education secretary says

The government will not be getting rid of GCSEs, the education secretary has said, despite growing calls to reform national assessments at the age of 16.

Gavin Williamson said on Friday the exams will be here “for an awful lot longer” as he addressed an education union conference.

In an earlier speech, a leading headteacher said the coronavirus pandemic had exposed the “fragility of our qualification system”, as well as “its reliance on endless pen-and-paper exams in exam halls”.

“In approach to assessment – which is not dissimilar to that of the 1950s – is this really the best we can do for students in the 2020s?” Richard Sheriff, the Association for School and College Leaders (ASCL) president, asked.

“Isn’t it time to rethink assessment, make more use of technology, and provide children with wider opportunities to show what they can do?”

He said it was not just about future-proofing exams in case of another pandemic, but relying on “terminal exams on an industrial scale” now appears “excessive and outdated”.

Mr Williamson told the ASCL’s virtual conference on Friday: “We are absolutely going to be keeping GCSEs.”

The education secretary said it was “really important” to have exams and full assessment at the age of 16 to help pupils transition to different colleges and schools.

Last month, the president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) said ministers should reform “old-fashioned” GCSEs in the long-term.

Jane Prescott, the Portsmouth High School headteacher, said she was concerned about the effect of “over-testing on young people’s state of mind” and their engagement with education.

Earlier this week, the England exam regulator’s acting chief said GCSE and A-level exams were likely to be different next year due to the disruption to education caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the current “thinking” for 2022 is “about adaptations along the lines that had been originally contemplated” for this year before exams were scrapped.

The government had originally planned for exams in England to go ahead this summer with some changes aimed at making grading as fair as possible amid the disruption, including marking exams more generously and giving pupils advanced notice of some topics in tests.

But exams were cancelled in January for the second year in a row as schools once again moved online to most pupils, with results set to be decided on teacher-assessed grades instead.

Mr Williamson told the ASCL conference on Friday the government will be “trusting teachers” instead of algorithms this year, following a controversial grading system that initially downgraded tens of thousands of marks in 2020 before students were allowed to take original estimated grades.

The minister said “changes to the school day and term dates” will be considered by the government as part of long-term measures.

He also told the conference: “My wife is a teaching assistant and it is always interesting because I obviously get quite a bit of lobbying. You know, our pillow talk is maybe a little bit different.”

He added: “She’s always sort of highlighting various issues where maybe the Department for Education hasn’t always got it perfect all the time and it’s always good to hear it from the frontline.”

Additional reporting by Press Association


Source link

Check Also

Government pledge to get 1.3 million laptops to children in pandemic still not met

Government pledge to get 1.3 million laptops to children in pandemic still not met

Government pledge to get 1.3 million laptops to children in pandemic still not met Government …