Teachers' fears over plans for exams overhaul
Head teachers say end-of-year exams proposed in a major overhaul of GCSEs will penalise some students.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced GCSEs are to be replaced by English Baccalaureate Certificates, known as EBaccs.
The move will do away with modules allowing students to retake parts of their course.
In addition, there will be less emphasis on classroom assessment and coursework and more on end-of-year exams.
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Less able students will be able to defer taking the tests at 16, taking them at 17 or 18 instead.
A single exam board will be used for each subject, rather than schools being able to choose which board they use.
Liz Logie, head of Beaumont Leys School, in Leicester, is concerned by the changes.
She said: "GCSEs have been discredited because of political agendas.
"It comes without evidence or expert opinion.
"Memorising work for three- hour exams at the end of a course isn't something employers are looking for and it's not how real life works."
Mark Sutton, head of Charnwood College, Loughborough, admitted there had been some problems with the system, but said more thought needed to go into the changes.
He said: "I agree there's an assessment overload and that it needs to be reformed, but it must be done so it doesn't condemn a significant number to failure because all the exams take place at the end. For some students, this won't capture their true abilities."
Changes are due to take place from 2015 and the Government has launched a consultation to discuss the proposals further.
Rob Summers, head of Judgemeadow Community College, Evington, said: "I think one exam board for each subject might be a positive step, but I can't see why this couldn't be achieved through the current GCSE system.
"However, it's hard to see how you can have one exam for all students and, similarly, coursework is vital for subjects such as English and history because it tests debating skills and the use of other sources.
"Education shouldn't just be about a three-hour exam at the end, it's about developing skills and attributes for life."
Ian Leaver, of Leicester's National Union of Teachers, said it was unfair for the Government to keep raising the bar for schools and for them to be told it is getting easier when they reach it.
Mr Gove said employers, universities and colleges were dissatisfied with school leavers' literacy and numeracy.
He told MPs it was time to raise aspirations and restore rigour to exams after years of dumbing down.
Chief executive of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce Martin Traynor agreed.
He said the business community had called the current GCSE system into question for a number of years.
He said: "A report during the last Labour Government recommended a move towards the International Baccalaureate because it gives students who are vocationally inclined a better chance to shine.
"We widely supported its greater use and feel that numeracy and literacy skills are still a major concern."