Michael Gove says he wants to scrap GCSEs by the end of the parliament

‘Failed’: Gove ready to scrap GCSEs

‘Failed’: Gove ready to scrap GCSEs

GCSEs' days appear to be numbered, after Michael Gove announced officials were "crossing the Ts and dotting the Is" of a major shakeup of England's exam system.

The education secretary said the government would consult on the reforms this autumn, with a view to introducing the new examination system for 15- and 16-year-olds by the end of the parliament.

Ministers had been planning on removing the modular structures of GCSEs from the year after next.

Today's confirmation of Gove's drive to abolish the qualification for good is a major step, coming before the impending Cabinet reshuffle, which is driven by a desire to end complaints about 'grade inflation' and reverse Britain's educational decline behind other countries' literacy and numeracy rates.

"When you are changing examinations, it's important to have a clear view about what you achieve, but it's also important to listen to the teaching profession and let parliament and parents get involved in the debate as well," Gove told the Today programme.

"What we want to do is to have an examination that is so rigorous that nobody can imagine there has been any grade inflation or grade deflation."

Gove had previously been thought to be considering the return of the old O-levels, which were not taken by all pupils.

While not confirming his intention outright, the education secretary indicated he wanted to see a new examination which would be taken by the vast majority of schoolchildren – recognising the best-performing "high-flyer" pupils while also acknowledging the "fluency" of lesser-able students.

The move comes at the end of a summer dominated in the education world by a row over GCSE grade boundary changes in English.

Ofqual has refused to permit grade boundaries to be altered after it emerged they were shifted upwards. Some students will have missed out of further education opportunities as a result.

Gove insisted it was not his place to intervene in the matter by calling for the grades to be re-marked. "You can't have a politician interfering… by in effect making themselves the chief examiner," he said.

"You have to leave it to the exam boards. If I was supposed to dictate what the independent regulator did, they would no longer be independent."

Ofqual is allowing affected students to resist their exams. Labour is calling for the government to make a statement on the issue later in the Commons, which returns after the long summer recess this afternoon.