NUT warns that new English GCSE is in danger of becoming a shambles

Wales’ largest union for qualified teachers, NUT Cymru, has warned that there are significant and growing concerns amongst secondary English teachers about the lack of information relating to changes to the English specification for GCSE courses which started for Year 10 in September 2012.

NUT Cymru says that the main concerns raised are:-

·         The Welsh Government’s decision to change the specification after practitioners had started teaching it;

·         A lack of consistency and potential for confusion with three different cohorts following different specifications (Year 10 following two year course with new specification; Year 10 following one year course with old specification, and Year 11 completing the old specification);

·         A lack of clarity as to what the new specification means in practice;

·         No professional training on the new specification until the spring, 6 months after the new course began.

NUT Cymru Executive Member, Neil Foden, said:

“The situation with the new English GCSE specification, which commenced in September 2012, is in danger of becoming a shambles. The changes should never have been imposed in such a rush, without consultation with teachers, and after the course had already started.

“There is significant and growing confusion as to what the changes will mean in practice and genuine concern in schools, particularly as no professional training is likely to be available until more than a fifth of the way through the course. This is unfair on pupils and teachers, will do nothing to raise standards, is alienating schools and is likely to give the Westminster Government another stick to with which to beat us.”

Mr Foden, a headteacher at Ysgol y Friars in Bangor, added:

“If work already done in schools is not on the new specification, it will either have been wasted, or special consideration will have to be given to hundreds of pupils.  This will again allow the likes of Michael Gove to accuse the Welsh Government of inflating standards.

“Clear and detailed guidance must be made available straight after the half term, and training brought forward to December, at the latest, if this course is to retain the little credibility and support it currently has.”

Contact: Owen Hathway, NUT Cymru, Ty Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ.  Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07921 146 442 e-mail: cymru.wales@nut.org.uk