WIGAN members of a teachers’ union have blasted Government plans to scrap GCSEs.
The decision by Education Secretary Michael Gove to replace thm with new English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBaccs), beginning with English, maths and science in 2015 with further subjects to follow, has led to accusations of a two-tier education system’s being restored.
The criticisms from the Wigan branch of the National Union of Teachers also say ministers refuse to recognise the hard work of teachers and pupils as a factor in exam pass rate improvements and send out mixed messages by both promoting excellence yet criticising exams as being too easy.
Mr Gove’s EBacc proposals, which he says will improve standards and bring greater academic rigour to learning, include bringing in a single national exam body for core subjects, scrapping or scaling back coursework and modular qualifications and restoring emphasis to a single exam designed to test pupils’ knowledge of years of study at the end of their courses.
But the NUT says EBaccs are simply a step back towards the old O-level exam system, and that Mr Gove is keen to label children as failures.
Wigan NUT secretary Max Atkins said: “Mr Gove demands ever higher pass rates, but when this is achieved, it is because the exams are too easy and so he pressurises exam boards to alter grade boundaries, causing life-changing misery for thousands of pupils.
“Parents and carers know how hard their children have worked for their GCSEs. It is the sheer hard work and determination on the part of teachers, parents, carers and the pupils themselves that has got them more fantastic results.
“He is going back to a blatantly two-tier system, where pupils deemed not clever enough to get EBacc Certificates will receive a “record of achievement” which will be seen to be of far less worth by employers and colleges.
“Telling pupils, ‘You are not clever enough’ will disillusion and de-motivate tens of thousands. All pupils, regardless of background or ability, should have the same opportunities to succeed as anyone else, and not be branded failures before they have even begun to make their way in life.
“Mr Gove is dragging education back into the Dark Ages where only the privileged will be able to go on to better things.”