I was just re-reading what Mike Baker said in his blog about the leaked news last June that Michael Gove, the English Education Minister, was planning to revert back to O-levels for those fortunate enough to be in the academic stream at English state schools.
Many of us were equally shocked by this retrograde policy move and responded like Mike through various social media. But his post seems to my mind the most balanced and informed of the lot and is still as relevant as when it was first published. And this given that we now know he only had a few months to live before he sadly succumbed to lung cancer. God knows, literally, why he would have got it as a non-smoker. His memorial service takes place today.
In the end less radical forces within the Coalition managed to rally against this controversial move. We now have the proposed English Baccalaureate Certificate to replace GCSEs, which the Liberal Democrats are apparently happy to support given that it will be open to all students and not just the most academically able. Whether it will be an ‘improvement’ awaits to be seen, but it is clear that Education Ministers can’t help but tinker with qualifications whatever the risks associated with continuous political intervention.
Remember it wasn’t the exams regulator, Ofqual, which advocated replacing GCSEs. There were hints from the Chief Inspector of Schools, but it is not his job to promote change to qualifications, unless of course this is what Gove now expects of him.
Interestingly, in Mike Baker’s post he referred to Tony Blair’s rejection of Mike Tomlinson’s proposals for an overarching diploma to replace GCSEs and A-levels. The other great educational Mike spoke at a conference this week about his fears for the credibility of the current exams system in England. In line with his original proposals to New Labour, he advocated a broader approach to learning than simply focusing on the core ‘rigorous’ subjects. He didn’t mention ‘Blue’ Labour’s current thoughts on a Technical Baccalaureate that are being led by Chris Husbands at IoE.
The current ‘complete’ solution to the problem I like best is by Head Teacher Tom Sherrington – have a look at it and see what you think.
Perhaps it’s time that Tom and Chris take over from the Mikes?