GCSEs face axe

Return of O-Levels as GCSEs face axe

Do we agree with Michael Gove's proposals to scrap GCSEs in favour of a return to an O-Level style system, or do we see this as a return to a 2-tier elitist system?

I think Mr Gove is right: our exam system desperately needs reform. We need fewer exam boards to maintain standards which employers can rely upon. Do his critics really think that the system we currently have is not a 2-tier system? Do we think a GCSE G is as valuable as a GCSE C? Are young people in bottom sets today not as undervalued as those pushed down the CSE route in the O-Level era? It is nonsense to think that by making everyone the same we somehow promote equality. We need to do more than that. We need to truly value routes which are non-academic. Not by talking about them as second class and devaluing them as such, but by accepting that there are different routes to success, and that all have a valuable role to play in our society, whether as doctors or bricklayers, chefs or entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists or electricians. People are not the same, our gifts, skills, strengths are different. What we need is a system which enables our young people to have an education suited to their needs. That will require different qualifications, different routes. Our current exams do not allow that. They fail the majority - by clipping the wings of the brightest and demoralising the less academic by pushing them down an unsuitable route which sets them up to fail.