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June 21, 2012 / magickittenblogs

Why Gove Must Go, or 1952 in 2012

Just as I was heading to bed after a happy evening of Olympics-ticket-purchasing, marking and reading, I made the mistake of looking at Twitter, which broke to me the unhappy news that a leaked DfE document has revealed Michael Gove’s latest plan for education.

Having already wreaked havoc by moving the goal posts on teachers’ pay progression and pensions (work longer, pay more, get less), and completely redesigning the primary curriculum (emphasing things like learning poetry by heart, harder maths etc and ignoring the recommendations of the experts brought in to help design the framework), he’s now turning his attentions to secondary schools.

The ‘leak’ was revealed originally in the Daily Mail this morning, and has now been covered by most national press organisations, but we’ll come to the Mail’s comments and access to the document later…  The main changes mentioned in the document are as follows:

  • The Department for Education expects that existing GCSEs will disappear. Those starting GCSEs in 2013 are the last pupils who will have to do them” – this statement is a direct quotation from the document.  Bit of a rush job, eh?  These new(old) qualifications would be linear, not modular.  The first examinations would take place in Summer 2016.
  • GCSEs will be replaced with an exam system more like ‘traditional’ O Levels for the top 70% of achievers, with more rigourous examinations in English, Maths, MFL and separate Science subjects, as well as academic humanities etc.  The remaining 30% percent will take some sort of lesser qualifications, selected from a smaller pool of subjects but definitely including English and Maths.
  • Each subject’s examination will be adminstered by one exam board only, eliminating the possibilities of choosing between different specifications.  This is almpst certainly because of the impression, held by many outside teaching and promoted by the right-wing press, that teachers choose the exam syllabus they think will be ‘easiest’ (as opposed to being the most interesting/relevant to their students etc). Hilariously, Gove claims that competition between exam boards had led to a ‘race to the bottom’ and damaged the standard of the service.  I thought that was the opposite of Tory doctrine with regard to public services?
  • The secondary National Curriculum (KS3 and KS4) will be scrapped; apparently this will mean that teachers are given a wonderful gift of freedom (whereas in fact it is likely to mean added pressure to drill students for end-of-year-11 exams from the age of 11/12).

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