A postscript on KS4 Reform

Fiona Millar's picture
Pondering the KS4 Reform consultation again last night, after listening to Stephen Twigg deliver the Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture, I decided to phone the DFE to ask a few more questions. Apart from anything else, I would like to be able to raise the consultation at the two governing bodies of which I am a member and several issues are by no means clear.

My key questions were.

  • will GCSEs in the subjects that are not to be re-branded as EBCs  in 2015 ( English,  mathematics and science) continue after that date

  • will GCSEs in the subjects that are not to be re-branded EBCs in 2017 ( history, geography and languages) continue after that date. The reason for this question is that there is no mention of many other popular KS4 subjects like art, drama, music, IT, computer science, DT, RE, dance, PE, in the consultation.

I have to say I wasn't altogether convinced that the policy adviser on the other end of the phone was sure of the answer as she claimed that this is something that still needs to be discussed and consulted on. But after some pressing she stated that GCSEs would continue to be available but wouldn't be included in the performance tables. She referred me to paragraph 4.7 which reads:

"To ensure that the benefits of this more rigorous approach to the English Baccalaureate subjects are felt across the whole curriculum, we will ask Ofqual to consider how these new higher standards can be used as a template for judging and accrediting a new suite of qualifications , beyond those subjects, at age 16, to replace current GCSEs."

So the headlines about abolition of GCSEs weren't strictly true ( we think). What appears to be the case is that  that the qualifications system in 5- 6 years time will be a mish-mash of EBC and GCSEs and schools will have the option to permit, even encourage   pupils who would rather take a mix of non EBC subjects to do so if they think that best suits those young people. Those that  have the courage to do this will help to make a nonsense of the league tables that Michael Gove is apparently  praising  to the skies at the Independent Academies Association Conference this afternoon, at which I am also speaking.

So more on this later, but in the meantime the case for real reform becomes ever more clear.
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Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 14/11/2012 - 12:37

Fiona - the response you received from the policy adviser demonstrates once again that these so-called reforms have not been properly thought-out. Non-EBC subjects, apparently, still need to be discussed and consulted on. It's obvious that the Government regards these subjects as bolt-on fripperies not really worthy of being examined. Presumably they would be listed on a Statement of Achievement which is supposed to be the certificate given to non-academic pupils deemed incapable of taking exams (or as Toby Young might put it - a Statement of Achievement is aimed at a "functionally illiterate troglodyte".)

It appears, then, that there will not just be a mish-mash of EBCs and GCSEs but other subjects which might appear only on the Statements of Achievement. And then there are the vocational exams which are still approved for use in schools - will they stay or will they go? Or will they, like non-core EBCs, be relegated to the Statement of Achievement (a certificate already destined to be described by schools wishing to prove their "academic" credentials as being something that won't be offered).

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Wed, 14/11/2012 - 13:59

You are forgetting IGCSEs, which were pretty much EBCs avant la lettre and in the case of the Edexcel versions - Edexcel Certificates, or ECs - only one lettre short of the picnic.

They'd fill the gaps nicely.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 17/11/2012 - 17:42

Ricky do you understand the differences between GCSE mathematics and IGCSE mathematics? The are substantial and significant. But do you actually know what they are or why the exist? Please reassure me that you do.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 17/11/2012 - 18:00

They not the

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