EBaccs set to replace GCSE exams, says Gove

Gove says qualifications will be more rigorous than GCSEs and concentrate on traditional academic subjects

Education Secretary Michael Gove this afternoon sounded the death-knell for GCSEs and announced their replacement by a new English Baccalaureate certificate.

He made it clear the new qualification would be more rigorous than GCSEs and concentrate on traditional academic subjects.

It will be the biggest upheaval to the secondary school examination system since the introduction of GCSEs in 1986.

Under the proposals, the vast majority of pupils will be expected to work towards an English Baccalaureate certificate - which will be given to those who obtain top grade passes in English, maths, the sciences, foreign languages and the humanities - history or geography.

The first students will sit the new English, maths and science exams in the summer of 2017 - with languages and humanities coming into force soon after following consultation.

Each subject in the Baccalaureate will be delivered by a single exam board to avoid what Mr Gove has described as a “race to the bottom” as rival exam boards compete for schools' custom by “dumbing down” exams.

Announcing the move in the Commons, Mr Gove said: “After years of drift, decline and dumbing down, at last we are reforming our examination system to compete with the world's best.”

He added: “The GCSE was conceived - and designed - for a different age and a different world.

“We know that employers and academics have become less confident in the worth of GCSE passes - they fear students lack the skills for the modern workplace and the knowledge for advanced study.

“It is time for the race to the bottom to end. It is time to tackle grade inflation and dumbing down. It is time to raise aspirations and restore rigour to our examinations.”

All the existing boards will be eligible to bid for “EBacc” - as the new qualification will be known - subjects with exams regulator Ofqual deciding which bid wins the franchise.

As far as other subjects on the curriculum are concerned, yesterday's consultation paper reveals no firm decision has been made as to what to call their qualification or how many will be subjected to the new exam franchise system - an indication of how central the five key Baccalaureate subjects are to ministerial thinking.

Other key elements of the package are as expected - modular units giving pupils the ability to constantly resit them to improve their grades will be scrapped and there will be a concentration instead on a three-hour end of course exam.

Mr Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made it clear they were united over the proposal with Mr Clegg's office saying the main sticking point to agreement - the threat of introducing a two-tier system - had been removed.

A return to O-levels and a “son of CSE” for the less able pupils - as envisaged in original leaks of the proposals - would have led to that - as would have sticking with the current system where there are two papers in each subject, one for advanced learners and a foundation paper which can only lead to a C grade pass at best.

Initial reaction to the proposals was hostile with Labour's education spokesman Stephen Twigg warning: “Whatever the reassurances, this risks a return to a two-tier system which left thousands of children on the scrap heap at the age of 16. Why else are the changes being delayed until 2017?”

Liberal Democrats argued the delay was necessary to ensure adequate consultation and preparation time for the new proposals - rather than an attempt to put them off until after the next election.

Former Education Secretary Lord (Kenneth) Baker warned that the proposals were not radical enough - and suggested doing away with a national exam at 16 as more young people stayed on in education and training until 18.  Instead, pupils should be tested at 14 to determine their future career path.

“It's vital that schools and colleges provide education which develops practical skills and personal qualities as well as subject knowledge,” he added,

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, described the proposals as “entirely driven by political ideology rather than genuine debate”.

She said they had created a problem for young people taking GCSEs in the next two years.  “They have now been told publicly that the exams for which they are working on are discredited and worthless,” she added.

Key proposals:

*GCSEs to be abolished and replaced by new English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC).

*Each of the five EBC subject areas - English, maths, science, languages - ancient and modern - and humanities will only be offered by one exam board on a five-year contract through a bidding system.

*English, maths and science certificates will be taught from 2015 with first students examined in them in 2017.  The others will be subject consultation.

*Vast majority of pupils expected to take new certificate - as with current GCSEs.  Those who might struggle to achieve it could be given until 18 to take it instead of 16.

*New certificate should be tested via end-of-course exam with coursework, controlled assessment and any other form of internal assessment abolished or kept to an absolute minimum.  Modules also to be abolished removing the right of pupils to resit them to boost their grades.

*Ban on exam aids - such as calculators for maths, periodic tables in chemistry and source materials in history and geography - to be considered so exams are true test of pupils' knowledge.

*All students not entered for the new EBC will be given a “statement of achievement” spelling out their strengths and weaknesses.  All who fail to get top grades in English and maths will continue to study these subjects until 18.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
News
people
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: The Job An inner city Birmingham sc...

Year 2 Teacher - Maternity cover

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Year 2 maternity cover, startin...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments