‘The GCSE system was extremely rigorous’ - former Norwich MP Charles Clarke defends teaching standards

Former education secretary Charles Clarke insists it is 'simply untrue' to suggest exam results have improved over the years because they are getting easier.

Mr Clarke, Norwich South MP from 1997 to 2010, also said it was 'unsurprising' results had recently declined as current education secretary Michael Gove had policies which removed existing support for education improvement.

The former Labour minister criticised Mr Gove's ideas to bring back exams to the O-levels and CSEs.

Pressure has continued to mount on Mr Gove after it emerged exam boards had marked English GCSE papers taken in June more harshly than those completed in January.

Mr Clarke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'The argument that O-levels, as he (Michael Gove) described it, with their associated CSE system was somehow more rigorous, to use his word, than the GCSE system is simply unsustainable - it's not true.

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'The GCSE system was extremely rigorous. Now, of course, you and anybody else will be able to point to particular areas where it was not done correctly, and I'm in favour of improving and did so as education secretary.

'But the fundamental big picture that education standards, exam results have gone up simply because the exams are less rigorous, I think is simply untrue.'

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