GCSEs are mindless and boring, says headteacher

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The Independent Online

Political meddling has undermined the credibility of A-levels and GCSEs, the headmaster of a leading independent school said yesterday.

Andrew Halls, the head of King's College School in Wimbledon, south-west London, said exams were no longer good enough, with "boring" syllabuses and too much emphasis on "mindless" coursework.

King's College, a private boys' school, came second in this year's GCSE league tables, based on data from the Independent Schools Council. In total, 34 out of 153 boys achieved ten A or A* grades. Mr Halls congratulated his students on their results but said the school was beginning to move away from GCSEs.

For the first time this summer, his students sat international GCSEs in the three sciences. He said: "We are increasingly moving away from standard GCSEs with a sense of sadness. Frankly, they are no longer good enough. At A-level and GCSE, there are so many top grades that they are not proving fit for purpose."

"We do iGCSEs in maths and now the three sciences. We are getting very good results. For the teachers and the boys it is better, the contents are more full and interesting and there is less emphasis on mindless coursework."

Mr Halls said the school would study the new GCSE specifications announced today by England's exams regulator, Ofqual, for teaching next year, but thought it unlikely that the school would return to the traditional qualifications.

"We have now had 10, 15, 20 years of constant change to the public exam system and very few of those changes have been for the better," Mr Halls said.

"Because of the meddling of populist politicians the system is becoming less credible," he added.