Why Should We Consider Scrapping GCSE’s?
Robert Halfon, MP, also the chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, has not kept it a secret about his feeling regarding GCES’s. He stands very firmly in the camp of people who believe these qualifications should now be scrapped. But why? Robert Halfon believes that instead of GCSE’s we should have some form of qualification which not only recognises academic achievements but also technical skills and also shows personal development,
Why Were GCSEs Brought in?
When the GCSE was introduced, young people could leave the formal education setting at the age of 16. The introduction of this new style of exam ensured that they left with a seat of qualification that they were able to use on their first step into the world of work; they were proof of their academic achievement. In 2015 however, the law was changed to make it a legal requirement for younger people to remain in education or training until the age of 18. It is this change in the law that has now made many of those involved in the field of education, including Lord Baker who introduced the GCSE all those years ago, questions whether they should now be scrapped.
Is it Feasible?
This isn’t the first time that the structure surrounding the examination system in the UK has been questioned. In 2004 an in-depth review was carried out of the 14-19 curriculum. Sir Mike Tomlinson’s recommendation at the time was that a “unified framework of qualification” was needed to replace the GCSEs and A levels. The recommendations were, however, short-lived, as Tony Blair, who was hoping to win re-election in 2005, was concerned that messing with the current exam structure might cost him the election.
A complete overhaul of the exam system will never be a simple job. It is something that will require a significant amount of work over the course of a number of years. It will also require political will, and that is something that there really isn’t enough of at the best of times. The motivation, unfortunately, to overhaul the current system is certainly not in place. As things stand now in 2019, the government are currently consumed by Brexit, and schools are simply nowhere near the top of their agenda.
It is not only a significant amount of work that will be required to put a new system in place that makes these suggestions utterly impractical at the moment.
Under the current education system, young people take their GCSEs at the age of 16 and then choose the subjects that they wish to study until 18. For some of them this will take them in the direction of college, while for others, it means going onto a sixth form. Either of these further education settings will use the predicted GCSE grades to assess the capability of these young people to commit to their chosen direction of study. Without these exams, a new system, which may rely heavily on reports from the secondary school, will need to be put in place.
A further issue that would also need addressing is that of those secondary schools which currently do not offer education past the age of 16. These schools teach young people to GCSE level who then go on to study at college or sixth form college elsewhere. If GCSEs were scrapped consideration would surely need to be given as to whether young people should be able to say in the same educational setting, somewhere they are settled in order to complete the education they have started at the age of 11. This would offer these youngsters the best chance to achieve their full potential without unnecessary disruption to their education at the age of 16.
While it might be true that GCSEs have now had their day, the reality is that we are a long way from being able to implement the kind of changes that are being suggested.