Michael Gove told exam reforms must be delayed to ensure quality

New syllabus will not be taught in A-level maths and most GCSE subjects by September 2015

Education Editor

Delays to controversial reforms to GCSEs and A-levels have been forced upon Education Secretary Michael Gove by the exams regulator Ofqual as they are not be ready to be introduced.

The new exams were intended to be brought in to schools in September 2015, but new A-levels in maths and further maths will be put back and introduced a year later, while at GCSE level only the core subjects English and maths will stick to the original timetable.

Under Mr Gove’s reforms, there will be a radical shift of emphasis to the exam syllabuses. He is scrapping almost all coursework and concentrating instead on a one-off end-of-syllabus exam – as was the case in the past.

But in a letter to Mr Gove, Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, said that a review of A-level syllabus content had shown that more “fundamental work” needed to be done on maths and further maths to meet his criteria for the new exams.

She warned: “We cannot be confident new high quality GCSEs in all subjects could be ready in good time for first teaching in 2015.”

Although she said that top priority would be given to introducing English language, English literature and maths on time, she indicated that the timetable would still have to be kept under review.

In his reply, Mr Gove accepted the need to delay maths and further maths at A-level because of the importance attached to getting the exams right.

“On the GCSEs we both agree that existing GCSEs are inadequate and that reformed qualifications should be introduced at the earliest opportunity,” he added.

“We must replace the modular GCSE treadmill with exams that encourage the skills universities and employers want – such as essay writing and mathematical problem solving. That’s why I want new GCSEs in core academic subjects in place for teaching for 2015.”

However, he was prepared to allow a delay in other subjects because it was “right to prioritise the availability of world-class qualifications in the subjects”.

Critics of the current system have claimed it is too easy to cheat in coursework by getting parents or the internet to answer questions. There have also been accusations that some teachers bump up marks to ensure a good ranking for their school in league tables.

However, exam boards are worried that students will be studying a mixture of syllabuses – with the GCSEs in all but English and maths not preparing pupils for the new-style A-levels.

A source close to Mr Gove said: “We have to balance the urgency of fixing exams against the danger of repeating past mistakes.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

AER Teachers: YEAR 3 TEACHER - PREPARATORY SCHOOL

£27000 - £40000 per annum: AER Teachers: YEAR 3 TEACHER - PREPARATORY SCHOOLA ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones