Nik Darlington 11.03am
Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) believe that grades should be based on a combination of final exams and coursework, as is currently the case with GCSEs but wouldn’t be under the proposed EBacc.
However, both teachers (77 per cent) and the public (82 per cent) agree with the Government in one respect: having one exam board per subject. I have criticised the current exam boards arrangement in the past, on these pages and elsewhere, as a corrupt and harmful presence in our education system. I have even claimed that the free market is failing the country’s children. So evidently I welcome this support for abolishing the practice of multiple competing exam boards.
There should be some concerns about YouGov’s sample size: at fewer than 700 hundred teachers in England, it is unimpressive. Factor in that this includes primary school teachers, with no direct involvement in GCSEs, and it looks threadbare.
We should also remember that while half (50 per cent) of teachers oppose the changes, that means the other half do not oppose the changes. True, only 22 per cent state they actively support them; but it is hard to form a definite opinion on something until you’ve seen what it is. The EBacc is still an idea, not an exam.
Much of the concern in the teaching profession seems, anecdotally at least, to be based on the likelihood of fewer children passing exams. The real issue here is one of raising standards, not necessarily pass rates. And if a new exam system raises standards to a comparable level with superior systems abroad, at the loss of higher pass rates, in the long-run it is a price worth paying.
I am told by one teacher with many overseas children in their classes that a mere glance at their textbooks demonstrates just how far behind our GCSEs are compared to the exams they would sit in their home country: “their GCSEs are equivalent to our AS levels”.
Significant parts of the teaching profession might be in denial or opposition of Mr Gove’s suggested reforms. And often with good intentions, I don’t doubt. But if we are to do the best for Britain’s children, we cannot continue to cheat them the opportunity of as rigorous an education as their peers overseas. In a globalised economy, this becomes ever more crucial every year.
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