Letter: Value of GCSE

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Sir: Your suggestion that GCSEs should be abolished (leading article, 26 August) is very worrying.

GCSEs have been very motivating to students. Far more now stay on after 16 to study A-levels or for vocational courses. But it does not follow that this success makes the GCSE redundant.

A-levels are simply no substitute. For one thing over half of our young people do not take A-levels. Your proposal would have many of them leaving school with nothing at all to recognise their achievements. There would also be no assessment at the close of both compulsory schooling and of the National Curriculum. The Government, rightly, requires certain things to be taught to children. We need to find out if they are actually learning.

Even those who take A-levels often take only three subjects. We would have scientists leaving school with no qualification in English and arts and humanities students who have never been examined in maths. GCSEs provide a genuine measure across the broad range of subjects in the National Curriculum, while allowing time for children to prove that they have learned other things outside the compulsory curriculum.


Head of Policy

Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations