YOUNG VOICES

Could GCSEs Be Replaced By The I-Level?

04/06/2013 11:01 BST
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GCSEs could be replaced by a system of new I levels - with numbered grades from 1 to 8 - under sweeping changes to school examinations, it was reported.

Ofqual - the examinations regulator for England - is proposing that course work will be abolished in all core exams except science, while re-sits will be curtailed, according to The Times.

Under the proposed changes, all end-of-course exams would be sat in the summer - apart from English and maths exams in November - and students would have to wait a full year if they wanted to re-sit them.

Ofqual - which is due to launch a consultation shortly - was said to have decided that a new name was needed for the exam as the Welsh Assembly had decided to retain the name GCSE for its exams, which will continue to feature modules and course work.

The Times said that although the title I level - or Intermediate level - does not appear in the consultation paper, it has been discussed by the regulator.

A new grade 8 would replace A* as the highest grade - although fewer would be awarded in order the reflect Education Secretary Michael Gove's aim of making exams harder while providing greater differentiation between the most able pupils.

Having 8 rather than 1 at the top would leave open the option of introducing a grade 9 if it was felt necessary to make it even more challenging.

The changes - covering English, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, double science, history and geography - would be introduced in schools from 2015, the paper said.

Ofqual refused last night to discuss details of the consultation paper, describing the report as "speculative".

"We will be consulting shortly," a spokeswoman said.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg: "This is now the third time Michael Gove has tried to abolish GCSEs. He keeps failing because he hasn't got a thought through plan to improve exams. Changing letters to numbers and the name of the exams is hardly the key to higher standards. We need serious proposals that learn from the best countries in the world.

"This needs a rigorous focus on English and Maths and testing both academic knowledge and the skills that young people will need in the workplace."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

“There is certainly a need for a serious debate on the examination system, particularly in light of the school leaving age rising to 18. It is, however, essential that teaching and learning and the voice of the profession inform possible changes to assessment.

“The proposals to get rid of coursework from every core subject apart from science are really not the best way forward. This will ignore different learning styles and will narrow the skills that can be tested through terminal examinations.

“The recent NUT-commissioned YouGov survey of parents showed that 61% believe that getting rid of coursework – leaving solely an end-of-course examination – is not the right decision. This is not what happens at university, so there appears to be no logical reason why it should be so at GCSE or at A-Level. Real life is not about what you can do in two or three hours at the end of a two year process.”