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Teachers across Taunton and Wellington behind the EBacc
HEAD teachers are backing the decision to scrap GCSEs in secondary schools and say a new exam system will push students harder to improve their results.
Education secretary Michael Gove this week said the English baccalaureate – the EBacc – will replace current assessment structure in 2017, doing away with coursework and module re-sits, and introducing an end-of-year exam.
The shake-up comes after what has been described as the “debacle” over English results this summer, which saw a 3.9% decline nationally in students awarded a grade C.
Dr John Newton, headmaster at Taunton School, says he hopes the move can push students to raise their game.
He said: “I welcome the changes because the re-sit culture was never a good idea.
“I also welcome that there will be no coursework for students to do because that was a dog’s dinner, and it’s pleasing that there are high standards expected of students.
“We’re slipping down the league tables internationally left, right and centre, so something needs to be done.”
Traditional A*-C grades are likely to give way to numerical marks or even percentages, making life easier for universities as they try to distinguish between students.
But such a specific marking system could see students penalised for the slightest slip-up.
Dr Newton said: “There will be a down side to the changes, but you’ll never get a one size fits all system.”
The change has also been welcomed by Wellington School headmaster Martin Reader, who said: “I’m in favour of anything which challenges pupils, and increases their ability to think and enjoy their learning, and I think GCSEs do need a change of emphasis.
“It’s clear from the debacle over English grading that the current systems are flawed and need changing, but I’m not convinced improvements will be achieved by a three-hour single exam.”
Richard Biggs, headmaster at King’s College, is more reserved about Mr Gove’s move.
“I’m not convinced that the problems of GCSE require a wholesale scrapping,” he said.
“The EBacc will be another new system to get used to when I’d much rather my staff could spend time concentrating on teaching.”