Education Secretary Michael Gove has failed to gain a single A grade in an end-of-year assessment of five key parts of his school reforms by Britain’s bosses.
The CBI, which in a major report last year issued a clarion call for a shift in emphasis in schools towards producing more “rounded and grounded” young people instead of exam fodder, declared today: “Some progress has been made in key areas - but, overall, ministers must try harder.”
It added that education standards watchdog Ofsted should be producing more “narrative” reports, covering the whole of a school’s ethos, concluding: “Without this, the piecemeal tactical changes we have seen over the last 12 months will fail to deliver - for the economy, for business and, most importantly, for young people themselves.”
The CBI looks at five key areas, grading the Government for its performance in each of them.
The lowest grade, a D, is awarded for developing a clear statement of what schools should be delivering, C+’s are awarded for its efforts to reform the curriculum and exams and its attempts to improve attainment in primary schools and a B- for its efforts to forge closer links between schools and business. The highest mark, a B, is given for its efforts to give heads and teachers more control over how they carry out their jobs.
John Cridland, the CBI’s Director-General, said: “The Government is headed in the right direction in ensuring there is more rigour in the education system but business needs more than this.
“We need young people who are rigorous, but also rounded and grounded and possess characteristics like determination, optimism and emotional intelligence which they need for working life.
“Too many young people are failed by a system which is primarily focussed on getting them through exams rather than developing and nurturing the whole person.”
Meanwhile, a leading headmistress has warned that schools still had “grave concerns” over the exam marking system.
Caroline Jordan, headmistress of Headington School, Oxford, told the Girls’ School Association in Gateshead schools had now “accepted and expected” errors in the system following last year’s last minute changes to the English GCSE grade boundaries.
“This systematic acceptance of errors in the system just goes to demonstrate a huge lack of confidence and the huge tragedy in all of this is that these reduced grades are unjustly affecting the future of the children that we have spent the last seven years nurturing.
“This is made doubly worse by the fact we have no confidence the whole process will not be repeated next year.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “We are pleased that the CBI has recognised our determination to restore genuine rigour to exams, returning power to the classroom and away from Whitehall bureaucracy,
“We agree that, as well as studying a rigorous curriculum and taking examinations to match the world’s best, pupils also need to develop the necessary skills and attitudes that employers want.
“That is why we have given teachers more freedoms than ever before - we trust them to ensure their pupils leave school as confident, well rounded young adults.”