Chalk Talk: Why the new league tables will be fairer all round

 

A few final thoughts on last week's biggest U-turn since sliced bread over the English Baccalaureate Certificate.

It seems that Education Secretary Michael Gove now has a much easier route – through transforming GCSEs – to achieving the kind of reforms he wants to implement.

The timetable is still tight, though – indeed exams regulator Ofqual has made it clear it will be prepared to recommend delay if it thinks it is too challenging.

It is a pity we lost the move towards a single exam board for each core subject. I did think, though, that the franchising process – having the exam boards bid against each other – was a bit cumbersome and would lead to major redundancies in the boards that failed to win contracts in any given subject area, thereby rendering future franchising bids obsolete.

I would have preferred a straight move towards setting up one exam board for the whole country – it works in other European countries so I don't see why we shouldn't have the freedom to do that here, even if it would be tough on the existing exam boards.

Finally, I like the new measure for exam league tables – ranking schools on progress made by pupils in eight subject areas through giving them a point score for achievement – thereby helping to widen the curriculum beyond the EBacc subjects (English, maths, the sciences, languages and history or geography). I don't like to boast, but the point score was the measure I used to use for ranking schools when The Independent ran league tables of schools on GCSE day.

It's much fairer and means everybody's achievement counts – and a school cannot rest on its laurels by just getting a pupil to a C-grade pass. If you've got to measure schools, it seems the fairest way to do it.

Better late than never! A report from the Commons science and technology committee on Friday warned that the introduction of the EBacc could be detrimental to engineering education. It might well have been, but by the time the release came out, the EBacc was dead and buried.

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