Plans to scrap GCSEs ‘unsettling’ for college

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A SHAKE-UP of the exam system has had an ‘unsettling’ effect on schools in the area.

Education secretary Michael Gove announced on Monday that lengthy end of year exams will replace the current coursework and module method of testing for 16 year olds.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Gove said that despite record increases in performance at GCSE level, they have not been matched by the same level of improvements in learning.

The tougher English Baccalaureate will be designed for core subjects such as English, maths and science.

If agreed after a consultation, youngsters currently in year seven will sit the new exams in 2017.

The plan has provoked mixed reaction from principals at Minsthorpe Community College and Hemsworth Arts and Community College.

Principal of Hemsworth Arts and Community College, Pam Massett, said it would be a bad mov.

She said: “I don’t disagree that the exam system as a whole could do with some review but to simply replace GCSEs is not going to help young people develop.

“And I don’t believe this new system will prepare them for the real world of work, where they have to develop knowledge and skills and applying them to different situations - not just learning facts and being able to reproduce them in on long exam. It’s very unsettling.”

Principal of Minsthorpe Community College John Gregory said the plans were more a test of what a pupil can remember, not necessarily how much they had learned.

He said: “Turning back to a three hour examination is a return to testing how much an individual can remember and how fast they can write it down.

“It brings back painful memories of index finger cramp.”

Another reason quoted for the change is that GCSEs have been perceived to be getting easier, and more difficult tests needed to be put in place to challenge pupils.

But Mrs Massett said this was an unfair.

She said: “This is a big blow for students as it’s devaluing all the hard work and effort they have put in to achieving good grades in recent exams.

“And not just for the pupils this year, but previous years too. They, along with teachers have worked really hard and to be publicly told they had it easy is very unfair and I disagree with that.”