Bac to the drawing board: Gove forced to drop Baccalaureate

Feb 7, 2013

'Humiliating climbdown' comes in the wake of opposition from Lib Dems and exam regulators

Getty Images

EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove is set to abandon plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of an English Baccalaureate certificate after widespread concern over the shake-up. He will announce the change in the Commons today.

Gove's U-turn on the exams for 16-year-olds has been sparked by opposition from the Liberal Democrats and a warning from Ofqual's chief regulator Glenys Stacey that the new test could be unworkable.

The Guardian says it represents a political defeat for Gove, who had previously criticised GCSEs for lacking rigour and was swiftly gaining a reputation as a radical reformer due to his "breakneck and highly ideological programme" for his department.

Under his original plan, launched last September, the English Baccalaureate certificate would have been introduced in 2015 in three core subjects - English, maths and science – for examination in 2017. The exams would have been extended later to languages and either history or geography. Each subject was to controlled by one examining board, which government lawyers reportedly warned could flout EU law.

Instead, Gove is expected to announce changes to school league tables and introduce "tougher" GCSEs for more able pupils, the Daily Telegraph reports. "This is the best path between [Nick] Clegg's top priority of everybody doing the same exam and Gove's top priority of raising standards tied to international benchmarks," a Whitehall source told the paper.

Labour's shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said Gove had been forced into a "humiliating climbdown" on his flagship plan following criticism from parliament's cross-party education select committee, teaching unions and business leaders.

"The proposal risked turning the clock back to the kind of exam system that we had when I was at school that wrote a lot of young people off at 14," Twigg told Radio 4's Today programme.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, told the BBC she was "absolutely delighted" at Gove's U-turn.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

The man's an idiot. I don't think I've ever heard him talk sense. In what world does he exist where changing kids education from one extreme to another sounds like a good idea. He needs to be kept as far away from any decision making as possible.