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Big changes afoot for school exams

School exams are a hot topic and are likely to remain that way for some time, since plans are afoot to replace and alter both GCSEs and A-levels.

Scrapping GCSEs

Education secretary, Michael Gove, plans to scrap GCSEs and replace them with new English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs) in core subjects such as English, mathematics, science, a foreign language and history or geography from 2015. Unlike current GCSEs, the new EBC subjects will have little or no coursework, but will be assessed with a three-hour exam at the end of the two-year course; a scary prospect for those students that struggle to perform in the pressured exam environment.

Others share our concerns. It was reported in The Times this week that creative leaders of England’s most prestigious theatres and galleries have united to oppose Gove’s plans by writing to David Cameron and Nick Clegg saying that the new EBCs are being rushed in and risk “damaging the cultural health of the nation.”

A-level revamp

A-levels will similarly be reformed. Gove announced this week that from 2015, pupils will take exams at the end of two-year courses. The AS-level exam will remain, but rather than sitting the exam after just one year, they will be taken as a ‘stand-alone’ qualification alongside full A-levels after two years in the sixth form.

Gove’s plans have been poorly received by head teachers and university leaders, who have called the plans “rushed” and “incoherent” – to find out more about their reaction, read the news story on the BBC News website here.

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