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.