CONCERNS raised by Bolton headteachers over plans to axe GCSEs in favour of a new exam have been given weight after a cross-party group of MPs echoed their fears in a damning report.

The school heads voiced their concern over the new English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBC) in English, maths and science in September, when the government announced its plans to overhaul secondary school examinations.

Now, the Commons Education Select Committee has said the new exam — with a single, end-of-course test — could fail to help less able pupils.

The qualifications will be taught from September, 2015.

EBCs in history, geography and languages will follow at a later date, and GCSEs are set to remain for other subjects.

The select committee warned the reforms could have a negative impact on subjects that would remain GCSEs.

The committee questioned how it will lead to more people achieving higher standards and called for a rethink on plans to introduce a Statement of Achievement for lower-attaining pupils, which, it said, could become a “badge of failure”.

John Porteous, head of Turton High School in Bromley Cross, is chairman of Bolton Secondary Heads.

He said: “The committee has stated what most of us have known for a while now, the EBC is not the way forward for a modern education service preparing our young people for the world beyond school.

“It will consign a huge number to, at best, a second class, discredited set of qualifications and, at worst, complete educational failure.

“GCSEs need some refinement. This can be done professionally and systematically by the examination authorities, overseen by government if they so wish.

“Vocational, practical and technical qualifications can also be refined so every young person has a proper way forward from school through to training and employment.

In Bolton, we will try to make sure we continue to offer this broad and balanced education and allow all our young people to fulfil their potential.”

Philip Britton, head of Bolton School Boys’ Division, said: “It is clear to me the proposals will neither serve the needs of a selective academic school like Bolton School or the needs of other schools.

“A ‘one exam fits all’ approach is both technically impossible and likely to be the worst of all possible worlds.”