Commenting on the reforms to GCSE’s announced by Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove today, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The proposals for the future of GCSEs announced today are entirely driven by political ideology rather than a genuine desire on the part of the Coalition Government to reform to the examination system in the best interests of children and young people.
“The Secretary of State has embarked from the outset on a cynical and wholly unjustifiable attempt to discredit the quality and rigour of the GCSE qualification.
“Instead of celebrating the hard work of teachers and pupils in securing sustained improvements in GCSE pass levels, the Coalition Government has sought to claim, aided and abetted by commentators, that these improvements are merely the result of a ‘dumbed down’ GCSE qualification that has become increasingly easier to pass.
“One of the more regrettable aspects of the current controversy on the grading of English GCSE is that it has provided the golden opportunity for the Secretary of State to press ahead with his claims that GCSEs are no longer robust or fit for purpose and to ‘reform’ the system.
“However, the plain truth, as the Secretary of State knows, is that there is absolutely no evidence that standards associated with the GCSE qualification have declined over time or that the current examinations system is broken.
“A further deep concern is the plight of those young people set to take GCSEs in the next two years. They have now been told publicly that the exams for which they are working on are discredited and worthless.
“The actions of the Secretary of State in this regard are unacceptable and the lack concern for the impact and motivation of young people and teachers working towards GCSEs is disgraceful.
“It is entirely legitimate for all those with a stake in the examinations system to debate the role and purpose of the qualifications system and how it might continue to evolve in future.
“However, unlike the pronouncements made today by Ministers, it is essential that any discussion of the future of GCSEs is informed by evidence rather than by assertion and rhetoric.
“Once again the Liberal Democrats have capitulated to enable yet another damaging Tory education policy to progress.”
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