How Will The Change From GCSEs To The English Bac Affect Children Currently Studying?

24/12/2013 10:39 | Updated 22 May 2015

How will education changes affect our children?Alamy

So. It's goodbye GCSEs and hello English Baccalaureate. It's goodbye to continually assessed coursework counting for some of your end of year exam marks and hello to a good old-fashioned 'all or nothing' three hour test at the end of two years work.

'Controlled assessment' and 'GCSE' will soon become a phrase of the past, just like 'O' level and 'CSE'.

Yipee. Michael Gove is promising us an 'end to the race to the bottom', an end to a varied selection of exam boards, an end to the year-on-year higher grades we have seen. Not to be outdone, Nick Clegg is promising more: a new system which will 'raise standards for all our children' and that it will give me, the parent, confidence in the exams my children are taking.

Except it won't.

Because in this pig's ears mess of an education debacle, two of my children are condemned to taking GCSEs, with all the accompanying media frenzy and Government talk of dumbing down, and they not being worth the paper they will be written on, and my youngest child will be a guinea pig for the new system.


Sorry, did anyone think about the children caught in the middle, the children (my children) taking GCSEs which have been loudly and publicly rubbished by this Coalition Government, but who will still be expected to sit them?


It's been called the biggest shake-up of our education system for a generation – you can say that again. This generation of children is growing up in the grip of recession, will have to pay exorbitant fees if they want to get to university,(for an education which was free to the very people now allowing fees of up to £9,000 a year to be charged), and a generation of children who will work their supposedly dumbed down socks off for longer and for less benefit at the end.

Sorry Michael, but I really don't think you've thought this through.

"Tom came home this week with his marks for all of his first year GCSE course work," said my friend Helen today. "But all he could say was that according to the Government, the A*s and As he had got were because we'd helped him, and were nothing to do with the hours he'd put in. I wouldn't mind if we had helped – but have you tried writing up your son's Geography fieldwork when you weren't even on the trip?"

And please can someone tell me how I am supposed to motivate my two eldest children to do their very best in their GCSEs when everywhere they turn, these very exams are being completely vilified and dismissed?

To add more worry to the mix, Helen, like me, also has a child who will sit the new English Baccalaureate exams, teaching for which is due to start in the school year of 2015, with the first exams taking place in Spring 2017.

"Well that assumes the Coalition Government stays in," adds Helen. "If Labour are successful at the next election, they could chuck the whole idea in the bin, and then what happens?"

Caroline Holder is head of maths in a comprehensive secondary school in inner London. It's no exaggeration to say she is in despair at this week's turn of events.

"In our school we estimate the new system will set up around 70VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%


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