Michael Gove today confirmed today he will not press ahead with plans to scrap GCSEs, saying the reforms were “a bridge too far”.

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The Education Secretary told the Commons that there was a consensus that the exams system needs to change.

But he admitted that flagship plans to axe GCSEs in favour of new English Baccalaureate Certificates in core academic subjects was “one reform too many at this time”.

The u-turn comes following widespread opposition and pressure from within the coalition from the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Gove told MPs that instead of new qualifications, GCSEs will be reformed, with exams taken at the end of the course, rather than in modules, extended questions and less internal assessment.

He also confirmed that he will not be pressing ahead with plans to hand each of the core EBC subjects to a single exam board - a move he had previously argued was essential to prevent boards “dumbing down” standards to attract more schools.

“Last September we outlined plans for changes to GCSE qualifications designed to address the grade inflation, dumbing down and loss of rigour in those examinations,” Mr Gove told the Commons.

“We have consulted on those proposals and there is now a consensus that the system needs to change. But one of the proposals I put forward was a bridge too far.

“My idea that we end the competition between exam boards to offer GCSEs in core academic qualifications and have just one - wholly new - exam in each subject was just one reform too many at this time.

“The exam regulator Ofqual - which has done such a great job in recent months upholding standards - was clear that there were significant risks in trying to both strengthen qualifications and end competition in a large part of the exams market.

“So, I have decided not to make the best the enemy of the good.

“And I will not proceed with plans to have a single exam board offering a new exam in each academic subject - instead we will concentrate on reforming existing GCSEs along the lines we put forward in September.”

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said the announcement was a “humiliating climbdown” for Mr Gove.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Twigg said: “The words ‘GCSE’ and ‘fiasco’ seem to be indelibly linked under this Government.

“This is a humiliating climbdown.”

To find out what Norfolk’s heads think, see tomorrows EDP.

What do you think of the decision? Leave your comment below.

16 comments

  • What are exams for? To show how well pupils have learned the lessons they have been given. If the lessons ( the GCSE syllabus ) is degraded and no longer any good, then politicians are wittering about the wrong point. No matter how tricky the actual exams or course work, nor how harshly they are marked,or how dishonest the exam boards, if what is being set by the exam boards and accepted by schools is dumbed down then the whole system is no good. When I studied for GCEs we turned in work in scrappy exercise books-none of this desk top publishing of coursework-but covered a lot of ground. Before even starting on Henry V for instance, we had to study Henry IV I & II, even though we were not being examined in those texts. In my experience pupils may sit an English Literature GCSE paper without having read all of a play, just extracts.It seems to me that what is being studied has gone to h*ll in a handcart, especially in double science. If there was a single national examination body it might eradicate the money driven dishonesty in the system .

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • @ Police Commissioner ??? " The government is floundering, making idiotic announcements and misleading promises, chasing headlines, but it all ultimately comes to nothing." Sounds to me you are writing an end of term report on Labour`s 13 years in office. Very well written sir - go to the top of the class. P.s. Gove was adopted by a Labour supporting family in Aberdeen at the age of four months but never went to a public school. He was successful in obtaining a scholarship to the independent Robert Gordon`s College. He comes from a very humble background.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • BG, could I recommend you stop reading ConservativeHome as if it is the gospel truth. The only truth is that its full of the sort of misinformation and inaccurate anti-Labour soundbites that you repeat relentlessly in your comments and letters.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • Look here my good man, there is nothing wrong with Conservativehomedotcodotuk. It is an essential source of information. I particularly enjoyed the feature on the numerous high-end antique and designer home furnishings bought by MPs at the taxpayers’ expense from the excellent and exclusive Oka. Now don't go thinking said MPs are trying to buy favour with the PM - the fact that Oka is run by his mama-in-law is purely coincidental.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • BG, could I recommend you stop reading ConservativeHome as if it is the gospel truth. The only truth is that its full of the sort of misinformation and inaccurate anti-Labour soundbites that you repeat relentlessly in your comments and letters.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • Bungled, half-baked, a climb-down, reneging, sorry but I can't find enough superlatives for this crass, public school inspired nonsense, which is being ditched, at last, presumably. Its not the 1st one either in recent memory. The government is floundering, making idiotic announcements and misleading promises, chasing headlines, but it all ultimately comes to nothing. At least Leveson was a good side show while it lasted. But EDP, this is not like you. I suggest in your hardcopy tomorrow that you pull the ‘u-turn’ part of the headline, and probably ditch Twigg's comments. You could try projecting it along the lines of 'education reforms to be reformed'. Otherwise you will risk setting off a load more ‘broken record’ ranters like BG, trotting out more baseless and unjustifiable rhetoric. In better shape than it has been for years, I think not. And what of all the students who had their grades deliberately sabotaged last year purely as pre-emptive justification for these reforms which are not even going ahead. That was a truly disgusting and despicable act and must not be forgotten.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • What exactly are examinations for? Are they supposed to be something that all candidates can pass equally irrespective of ability or are they supposed to sort the sheep from the goats? The GCEs of old were too "difficult" for the most dull and delinquent students to achieve and so we were saddled with GCSEs, easy for all children to pass. How wonderful. Both the clever and the stupid can thus be equally qualified. How about a new and reformed examination in the basic subjects of English, Math and Science designed to show that a student has reached a reasonable level of attainment, the Ebac for want of a better name. "Oh no! What a dreadful thought! My half witted delinquent offspring wouldn't be able to pass it - therefore it mustn't be allowed!!!!"

    Report this comment

    sidevalve

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Well said sidevalve. You've spotted the flaw .. if we have exams we might find out that people are cleverer than others!!

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    Patrick

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • I'm sure Mr. Gove would point out that if you start a quotation with inverted commas you should finish it in the same way.

    Report this comment

    Thoreauwasright

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • I recall the Labour`s 13 years of Labour`s supposed, "Education, Education, Education." which left us with many educational establishments that were not fir for purpose. Like the Nhs, they were more concerned with targets and league tables rather than giving people a well rounded education. At least Gove is responding positively to what people have been telling him. When did a Labour government last do that - certainly wasn`t during the Blair or Brown years. Let`s at least give Gove credit for what he has done for education in this country which is in better shape than it has been for years.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • this is a goverment who are borrowing 600 billion to add to the massive deficit labour left us with . . They have now said that another 64 billion will be added to this . And the punchline is they are calling it a deficit reduction plan

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Plummeting down the league tables??????? Depends which ones you read since in most we are going up!!!! See BBC Education section. As I said politicians play dangerous games with our children.

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    Sportswagon

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • When will our dim, voter seeking politicians learn that they will never win if they play political games with children's futures and try to satisfy the tabloids?. Blunkett and Gove have been despicable and damaged many pupils. Let's have political consensus for education policy and save a fortune too.

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    Sportswagon

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Yet another good initiative sabotaged by the LibDems and their left wing idealogy. Michael Gove is at least trying to reverse the UK's plummet down the international educational rankings that was the result of Labour's 'no one must fail policy.'

    Report this comment

    andy

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • At least Michael Gove has the intelligence to think up and put forward plans to advance and improve. As BG says .. when did Labour ever do anything positive for education?

    Report this comment

    Patrick

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • To dismantle the GCSE system might have been an unnecessary expense. The system should work and be suitable for comprehensive education just so long as each syllabus is set correctly and marking is with an eye to fairness and not league table led with exam boards jostling to attract schools. If we accept the principle of comprehensive schools we need exams where children may move across streams in the event of rapid improvement and not a system like GCE and CSE where they were consigned to one or another from the end of year nine. Having said that when the last of my children to take GCSEs was studying it was clear that many subjects are no longer fit for purpose in that they fail to prepare pupils adequately for A level studies. I cannot comment on how those aiming for vocational studies find GCSEs but it seems likely that they too are being short changed. Children and teachers are probably working harder to achieve not as much in terms of learning, this has to be the fault of those who agreed the syllabus for each subject. One thing I do agree with Gove about, is his proposal to toughen up on actual learning of the basics and core facts in each subject. When GCSE history pupils are asked to interpret sources when they have a very limited knowledge base to draw on, the exercise is pointless. Not a few subjects are into run before they can walk territory

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, February 8, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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