A LEADING Bolton headteacher has called for more compassion for current secondary school pupils as plans to launch a new exam system were revealed.

Education Secretary Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have launched plans for the English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBacc) to replace GCSEs in the biggest overhaul of secondary school testing for a generation.

The shake-up will mean a single end-of-course exam, fewer top grades and one exam board for each subject.

Current year seven pupils, who began secondary school this month, will be the first to take the revised exams in 2017.

John Porteous, chairman of Bolton Secondary Heads Executive and head of Turton School, said staff would work with the new system.

But he warned that discrediting the current system was damaging to the “morale” of the four year groups who are yet to sit their GCSEs.

He added: “If new exams are being introduced, there are many reasons that could be used to explain this.

“Instead, a lot of effort has been wasted trying to discredit the current GCSE examinations.

“A little more thought and compassion for those on the receiving end of the rhetoric would be welcome.”

The changes follow concerns about falling standards since the introduction of GCSEs in the late 1980s.

They will bring an end to modular and rolling assessments, putting a stronger emphasis on the traditional exam at the end of two years of study.

The proportion of top grades awarded will also be limited.

Mr Gove had originally planned a return to a twotier O-level-style system, but the plans were scrapped after protests from the Liberal Democrats, including Mr Clegg.

Philip Britton, headmaster of Bolton School Boys’ Division, said the changes were ignoring “deep-rooted problems”

with exams.

He also raised concerns about getting rid of the module system which, he said, enabled people of different “motivations, abilities and aptitudes” to remain in formal education.

He added: “Moving to one exam for all seems to be the least sensible way of moving forward.

“Standards will only be maintained if quality staff are engaged in setting and marking exams, if sensible procedures are in place for grade boundaries and proper mechanisms for appeal are introduced.”