Leading article: The abolition of GCSEs would not suit all

It would be relatively easy for Eton College to abandon GCSEs, as its headmaster, Tony Little, would like to do, since the vast majority of its pupils would probably get into a leading university through predicted A-level grades. For pupils at an inner-city comprehensive, as Joan McVittie, head of Woodside High School in Tottenham, north London, suggests, it would be far harder. Her pupils need recognised qualifications to get a job. Mr Little has the kernel of a good idea, now that the leaving age for education is being raised to 17, and eventually 18. And his ideas would have more credibility if we moved to a system where pupils applied to university after receiving their A-level grades – so that admissions staff do not need to look at GCSEs for proof of performance. Even then, though, something more copper-bottomed than an internally assessed leaving certificate will be needed to make the alternative to GCSEs acceptable to employers.