Changes introduced by Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education mean that from next year ‘softer subjects’ and exams that lack proper academic content – previously counted as ‘equivalent’ to up to four GCSEs – will no longer be included in school league tables. The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) was also introduced – a measure showing the percentage of children achieving A*-C grades in the core academic subjects of English, maths, two sciences, a language and either history or geography.
Last week it was announced that in future schools will be judged on the best eight GCSE’s taken by students (five are currently included) and a further refinement was introduced yesterday so that only a student’s first entry into any GCSE examination will be counted in school performance tables.
Andrew Turner, the Island’s MP, welcomed the changes:
“In the past the system encouraged schools to focus on the small number of students on the borderline of a C/D result in GCSE exams, disadvantaging the majority and high and low achievers. It also masked the achievement of schools doing a great job with challenging youngsters and allowed schools with bright students simply to coast along. The EBacc has already had an effect; this summer’s GCSE results show a marked increase in entries to languages, separate sciences, history and geography. It is not only children that lost out; local employers were also short-changed. There will be much more information available in future, we must make sure that those that need it are given any help they need to interpret it.”
The Island’s Cabinet member for Children’s Services Cllr. Richard Priest added:
“We welcome recognition that Ofqual has said that ‘trends towards early and multiple entry increase the risk of unfairness for candidates overall’, and that new guidance reflects this; particularly as Ofsted has also said that some schools are using ‘high levels of early entry’ with limited or no evidence of impact on raising standards.
“We remain committed to raising standards and enabling our learners to realise their potential, and, working with our Hampshire Partners, as well as the Island’s MP, any development of policy that supports this priority is to be welcomed”.
Cllr Chris Whitehouse (Newport West) who leads on Education for the Conservative Group of Councillors added:
“The new system is about ensuring that each and every child achieves the best that they can, whether they be high achievers, mid-range performers or those who struggle academically. Every single child, in every school and in every subject should be challenged and supported to do their best every day. The transparency of this new system will help schools to achieve this.”