Michael Gove has finally revealed his much-trailed overhaul of the GCSE exam system, a revamp that has been dismissed by Labour. Surprise, surprise – when has the Opposition ever endorsed such a radical overhaul in such a major policy area? More surprising for me is the apparent lack of consultation with people on the ground, those who work with the future of this country day in, day out.
Teachers do not deny that the exam system is due an overhaul – GCSEs were introduced in 1988 and have included a top A* grade since 1994. Even as I waited nervously for my exam results all those moons ago (I know – I don’t look that young) the talk was already of how they were worthless and had become much easier to pass. Pretty devastating stuff to accept when you are aged 16 and have worked your a*** off for two years.
I’m not going to tell you what should happen to the exams, how easy they should be, what grading system should be applied, or how many exam boards we should have, because I’m about as qualified as Mr Gove is to pass judgement. After all, he too was a journalist and, like me, attended a state school and had a parent who worked at university. Some may argue that I am more qualified, because he didn’t even sit GCSE exams.
No, I would need to consult the professionals who sit in classrooms with our children every day and know how to get the best out of them. That’s the only way we can end up with a credible system that teachers and pupils alike will respect for years to come, without the need for endless tinkering.
In the meantime, spare a thought for this year’s crop of pupils ploughing through their “easy” exams.