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Baccalaureate ‘an exam for the few, not majority’ says head teacher
12:00am Friday 12th October 2012 in News
A new English Baccalaureate planned to replace some GCSEs will see most students fail, a headteacher has warned.
Dr Andrew Cummings, of South Craven School, Cross Hills, said the proposed change was misguided at best and morally wrong at worst.
The Government plans will mean a single end-of-course exam and one exam board for core subjects.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has argued that GCSEs were designed “for a different age and a different world”.
He said the reforms would create a rigorous, internationally competitive exam system and provide pupils with equal opportunities.
But Dr Cummings said: “This will introduce a new system from 2015, whereby students will have to take exams in English, maths, science, a foreign language and history or geography in order to pass the English Baccalaureate.
“Schools such as South Craven are proud that we now have a system where the overwhelming majority of students leave with qualifications which allow them to progress.
“For the last three years, our pass rate for five A*-Cs has been between 98 and 100 per cent. Including English and maths, it is between 61 and 63 per cent.
“Mr Gove’s new examination will be harder. The success rate is likely to be around 30 to 40 per cent nationally. It is an exam for the few, not the majority.”
He said that while the proposals promoted a return to end-of-course exams with no coursework, examinations based on rote learning were less important in a digital society where information could be easily retrieved.
“The application of knowledge and skills to problems and situations is far more useful,” he said.
“Coursework was introduced to counteract the unfairness of the assessment of a student’s ability being dependent on an exam taken on a particular day.
“The concentration on an arbitrary list of subjects means students will be prevented from studying those they enjoy and that are more useful to their progression.”
Dr Cummings added that Mr Gove had not recognised the unfairness of many of this summer’s GCSE results.
He was referring to the news that the exam regulator ordered examination boards to alter the grade boundaries for the English GCSE taken in June.
He said: “South Craven School was not as badly affected as some, nevertheless we have several students who we believe should have received a C rather than a D grade.”
Dr Cummings was also dismissive of Labour’s Technical Baccalaureate, which would involve vocational training and work experience.
He said it could reinforce damaging divides between high status academic education and low status vocational provision.
“We will again lock children into narrow tracks at age 14,” he said. “It flies in the face of the provision that schools and colleges have developed and it is the very antithesis of personalised learning.”