GCSEs don’t need reforming – they need overhauling

GCSEs don’t need reforming – they need overhauling

Firstly, let me congratulate every student who has achieved what they need in their GCSE results today – and to those that haven’t do not feel too disheartened; many opportunities await you in your life.

Much has been made about these new ‘tougher’ GCSEs but as far as I can see they still fulfil a one-size fits all education system where no one is allowed to fail – and this doesn’t reflect life.

As reported yesterday, Ofqual stepped in to change the grading boundary in the science GCSE so no-one came away ungraded.

In my view this is a terrible preparation for the real world.

When I was at school – 40% failed A’ Levels – 60% passed and only 10% received an A. Grade inflation and the new philosophy that no one should fail has now led to a 90% pass rate with 25% receiving an A or A*. The same applies with GCSEs.

Even with new focus on exams the underlying philosophy remains in place.

Despite the elimination of most of the coursework this year, GCSEs are still not rigorous enough and no government has had the political metal to really toughen up the system.

In my opinion, we solve this with a two-stage model.

More vocational-technically orientated children should do different examinations at 16 and 18 while new, tough academic qualifications at 16 and 18 are introduced for other students.

This will mean true, fairer and ultimately meaningful examinations at these two staging points.

It is a model similar to the German system that has produced outstanding results and a thriving economy.

And it works because there is recognition of a student’s natural ability and emphasis on achievement and talent.

Lowering grade boundaries just papers over the cracks and disguises the actual underlying problems.

Large percentages of ‘good’ grades look great on a spreadsheet or a banner in reception, but fundamentally pupils will not be afforded any better career opportunities.

This surely has to be the ultimate aim when it comes to our education system.

I feel it’s contributed to a lack of transparency in which employers don’t trust this upsurge in exam results, which means they hold less value to our society.

Yes, it should be harder to attain top grades.

The fact that the grades are left virtually unchanged even under the new regime means there has just been some tinkering.

A one-size-fits-all exam system has led to attempts to embrace everybody by lowering standards. We need a system that fits the people that are in it.

GCSE standards are just one problem – our whole education system from primary to university needs radical reform.