A case of amnesia – Gove asks Ofqual to repeat research done at his request two years ago

Janet Downs's picture

Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has asked Ofqual to research 13 exam systems as part of his exam reform programme, TES reports. But at least 8 of these have already been investigated at Gove’s request as part of the National Curriculum Review.

The DfE published the requested NFER report in December 2011. Perhaps Gove hasn’t read the research he commissioned – if so he can find it on his Department’s website here. Or perhaps he’s forgotten that he’s previously asked for it.

So Ofqual doesn’t need to waste time investigating 8 of these 13 systems – it can read the existing DfE report. Or it could refer to the faq above What are the examination systems in other countries? which summarises the NFER findings and includes information about other countries as well.

Gove asked Ofqual to undertake the research to “increase the demand of GCSEs to reflect that of high-performing jurisdictions”. It’s unclear how the investigation will manage this because most high-performing jurisdictions don’t have high-stakes tests at age 16.

Perhaps Gove hopes that Ofqual’s inquiries will tally with his views that exams in England are “below par when compared internationally”. But TES reminds readers that when Ofqual looked at how well A levels measured up to other countries’ exams it found that A levels “stood up pretty well” with other equivalent examinations.

So, if A levels are on a par with other countries 18+ exams and few countries have high-stakes exams at 16, why is Gove hell-bent on reforming exams at 16?


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