O-levels to replace GCSEs: Is Gove a Tory hero or just bonkers?
Education Secretary Michael Gove comes under fire for exam shake up - others say he should be PM
EDUCATION SECRETARY Michael Gove wants to replace GCSEs with "explicitly harder" O-levels, it emerged today.
Secret documents leaked to the Daily Mail revealed plans to radically change the exam system and curriculum, with a return to the style of exams scrapped in the 1980s. The proposals included getting rid of GCSEs by September 2014, introducing a simpler qualification similar to the old-style CSEs for less-able pupils and abolishing the national curriculum.
While some have applauded Gove's ambition for "world class qualifications", others have said the plans are simply mad.
Mary Bousted, leader of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, told The Guardian it was the education secretary's most "ludicrous" idea to date. She says: "The aim should be to get as many people as possible to the best standard they can achieve and you do not do that by dividing everyone as sheep and goats at 14."
Leighton Andrews, education minister for Wales, said bringing back the O-levels was "a bonkers way of proceeding" and announced that Wales would not be following Gove’s lead.
He told BBC Radio 5: "What we want is a qualification system that is easily understood by parents, students and people in business. I really think the right way to do these things is to review them rigorously and not to make announcements in order to capture newspaper headlines."
Scrapping GCSEs will hurt yet another generation of children, wrote Martin Belam in The Guardian. Having been in the first group of pupils to take GCSEs, Belam warns against treating pupils as "guinea pigs".
"It dismays me to think of another generation of pupils trying to prepare for their exams under the full glare of the media and political establishment," he said. "Those studying hard to take the last batch of GCSEs are being told their efforts are futile as the exams and syllabus aren't up to scratch. And those taking the new exams will have to go through the disruptive experience I had."
But Gove has at least one avid supporter. On the back of the proposals, The Daily Telegraph's Tim Stanley says Gove deserves to be Prime Minister.
Stanley says the move marks the "rejection of everything education has been about for the last few decades: dumbed down, obsessed with targets and given to grade inflation".
He predicts that Gove will emerge with "even higher prestige" among Tories, having pursued a recognisably conservative agenda while helping the disadvantaged.
But if his colleague Daniel Knowles is correct, we needn't be sending Gove to Downing Street or an asylum just yet. "I doubt very much that it will actually happen," says Knowles, "at least not on anything like the dramatic scale that the news stories imply."
He explains: "Such a big proposal will have to go through several layers of consultation, and by the time it reaches the end of that, it may be shredded – all of the scary bits torn out." ·