Headteacher speaks out against 'pointless' GCSEs
THE head of Bolton School has spoken out against “pointless” GCSEs.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, Philip Britton, head at Bolton School, said there were no reasons to maintain the exam for Year 11 pupils.
Mr Britton wrote: “There are no reasons at all to maintain examining, and certainly not GCSE exams, at 16.
“With the raising of the participation age beyond 16, any sense that a final set of exams at 16 is required will soon be removed.
“A bold Secretary of State could solve this at a stroke by introducing competency-based assessments at 14, then leaving differentiating assessment until 18.”
Mr Britton’s remarks reference the controversial decision to increase the education leaving age to 17 for the first time this year.
From September, all pupils will be required to remain at school, college or on-the-job training until they turn 17. It is the first step in a move towards raising the education leaving age to 18 by 2015.
But charities warned of a shortage of available training places, insisting that more than 50,000 teenagers who would have previously “dropped out” at 16 will be hardest hit by the change.
Speaking to The Bolton News, Mr Britton, who is headteacher at one of the best schools in the country, said: “Bringing attention to issues with the education system in general is one of the important things successful independent schools can do, making use of both our independence and freedom and also, since we are obviously successful in the current system, any criticism is from a position of strength.
“A school that has not got great GCSE results could be seen to want the system to change so it can do better. That criticism cannot be levelled at us.
“The push is for more rigorous GCSE's , and it is good to push up aspirations. However, I do fear with the raising of the participation age beyond GCSE, the exams will end up as an unnecessary and unnatural stumbling block in the way of academic students like mine as they pursue excellence and a huge impediment to those less academic students who need other types of skills and study to realise their potential.”
He called for exams which increase standards of literacy and numeracy at aged 14, followed by more freedom with pathways for students aged 14 to 19.
Mr Britton said: “I do feel that the inertia comes down to the country having so many 11 to 16 schools and then colleges from 16, mixed with other schools that have sixth forms.
“I feel if the country is to thrive we need once and for all to establish high quality vocational and academic pathways within our education system.”
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