Chalk Talk: GCSE reforms won't win Gove many friends in high places
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 12 December 2012
It doesn't really come under the heading of a good day to bury bad news. However, Education Secretary Michael Gove's spat with the exams regulator Ofqual over his planned GCSE reforms escaped the oxygen of too much publicity – emerging as it did on the day Chancellor George Osborne delivered his pre-budget statement.
It doesn't come under the heading for two reasons: (i) the Chancellor, in many people's eyes, was delivering enough bad news to sate even the hungriest news editor's thirst for a bad-news story and (ii) Mr Gove himself got into another spat with Graham Stuart, the influential chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, when he refused to disclose what the row was about – saying it was a matter for Ofqual to publicise its misgivings over his plans for a new English Baccalaureate certificate in the core subjects.
That it duly did – in a letter to Mr Gove, Glenys Stacey, its chief executive, warned that his aims for the new qualification might not be "realistically achievable". She added that there were no "precedents" to suggest that a single type of qualification for all pupils could work.
The deadline for consultation over the planned reforms expired this week with a final-day flourish from a host of actors and celebrities signing up to a document by the National Union of Teachers criticising the proposals.
Film-maker Ken Loach wrote: "It is sad and short-sighted that creative subjects are to be excluded from Baccalaureate. Many students find confidence and fulfilment in music, art or drama. Other work is then supported and enriched."
It will be fascinating to hear the Government's response to it now the watchdog it appointed has also expressed its reservations.
Meanwhile, back at the Sutton Trust, the education charity that campaigns for disadvantaged students has doubled the number of places it is offering at university summer schools in the United States next year. In all, 150 will be available at Yale and Massachusetts Institute of Technology for bright UK teenagers from low- or middle-income homes in 2013.
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