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Student 'threat' from new exams warns South Crave headteacher
A new English Baccalaureate planned to replace some GCSEs will see most students fail, a head teacher has warned.
Dr Andrew Cummings, of South Craven School at Cross Hills, said the proposed change was misguided at best and morally wrong at worst.
He added his voice to criticism expressed by the management of University Academy Keighley last month.
The Government plans will mean a single end-of-course exam and one exam board for core subjects.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has argued that GCSEs were designed “for a different age and a different world”.
He said the reforms would create a rigorous, internationally-competitive exam system and provide pupils with equal opportunities to succeed.
But Dr Cummings said: “This will introduce a new system from 2015, whereby students will have to take exams in English, maths, science, a foreign language and history or geography in order to pass the English Baccalaureate.
“Schools such as South Craven are proud that we now have a system where the overwhelming majority of students leave with qualifications which allow them to progress.
“For the last three years, our pass rate for five A*-Cs has been between 98 and 100 per cent. Including English and maths, it is between 61 and 63 per cent.
“Mr Gove’s new examination will be harder. The success rate is likely to be around 30 to 40 per cent nationally. It is an exam for the few, not the majority.”
He said that while the proposals promoted a return to end-of-course exams with no coursework, examinations based on rote learning were less important in a digital society where information can be easily retrieved.
He said: “Coursework was introduced to counteract the unfairness of the assessment of a student’s ability being dependent on an exam taken on a particular day.
“The concentration on an arbitrary list of subjects means students will be prevented from studying those they enjoy and that are more useful to their progression.
“As an historian I can make a passionate defence of the unique role that history plays in education. However, I cannot as a head teacher accept that history’s claim is greater than art, music, drama, technology, IT, business studies, religious education, physical education, or some of the excellent vocational qualifications we offer.”