The Daily Mail has revealed that Michael Gove plans to reintroduce the O Level exam to secondary schools in England.
GCSE to be phased out by 2015
National Curriculum at Secondary level to be scrapped
25% of pupils will not take O Level at all but take simpler exam similar to CSEs
My niece will be one of the first pupils to sit the new exams and, as her family, we are concerned at the rate of change being inflicted on the examination system. My own children are currently in Primary school and I am still absorbing the implications of the changes announced recently in the Primary Curriculum. As a teacher and a parent I am genuinely concerned that all these changes will have a negative effect on education in England. I feel that there is far too much happening at once.
When I first spotted this on Twitter, I genuinely thought that it was a joke. Maybe it is an elaborate hoax but here is the article. What do you think?
Return of the O-Level: Gove plans to scrap dumbed-down GCSEs and National Curriculum in the biggest revolution in education for 30 years
- Under Gove’s plan, class of 2013 will be last to sit GCSEs
- New exams will be toughest in the world
- Top secret plans revealed in leaked documents seen by the Mail
- Gove set for collision course with teaching unions, local authorities and Lib Dems
EXCLUSIVE By TIM SHIPMAN
PUBLISHED: 22:31, 20 June 2012 | UPDATED: 22:59, 20 June 2012
The most radical shake-up in school exams for 30 years will see dumbed-down GCSEs scrapped and rigorous O-levels brought back.
Leaked documents seen by the Mail reveal Education Secretary Michael Gove has drawn up a blueprint which would tear up the current exam system as well as abolishing the National Curriculum.
From September 2014, pupils will begin studying for ‘explicitly harder’ exams in English, maths, physics, chemistry and biology.
Tough O-levels will also be drawn up in history, geography and modern languages.
The new exams will ‘meet or exceed the highest standards in the world for that age group’.
Mr Gove believes the creation of GCSEs by the Tories in the 1980s was a ‘historic mistake’ that has ‘failed pupils’ and led to the collapse of standards through grade inflation and a proliferation of ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses.
Under his revolutionary plans:
- GCSEs will ‘disappear’ from schools within the next few years
- The National Curriculum in secondary schools will be abolished
- The requirement that pupils obtain five good GCSEs graded A* to C will be scrapped
- Less intelligent pupils will sit simpler exams, similar to the old CSEs
- O-level pupils will sit the same gold standard paper nationwide from a single exam board
The extraordinary plans will set Mr Gove on a collision course with the teaching unions, local education authorities, the Liberal Democrats and even his own civil servants.
He is set to announce the plans formally in the next two weeks. In the autumn a public consultation will run for 12 weeks. That will clear the way for them to be implemented early next year. None of the plans require an Act of Parliament.
Mr Gove’s proposal is nothing less than an attempt to reverse three decades of academic decline and create a system that Labour could not reverse if its wins power in 2015.
A leaked document seen by the Mail reveals: ‘Those starting GCSEs in 2013 are the last pupils who will have to do them.’
This means they will sit their exams in 2015. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of pupils who begin in September 2014 will be expected to take O-levels in English, maths and the sciences in 2016.
There will be individual O-levels in physics, chemistry and biology, instead of a combined sciences qualification.
In a bid to end the slide in standards, pupils will have to study complex subjects like calculus to get an A grade in O-level maths. English literature pupils will be banned from taking set texts into exams and will be expected to write longer essays.
Questions like ‘Would you look at the Moon with a microscope or a telescope?’ from science GCSEs will be a thing of the past. As well as the return of O-levels, the Government will create a new exam for less able pupils.
When GCSEs were created they were supposed to help less-gifted students.
But Mr Gove believes those teenagers have been encouraged to think that a D, E, F or G grade at GCSE is a ‘pass’ when the real world treats those grades as a ‘fail’.
From 2014, the bottom 25 per cent of pupils will study more straightforward exams in English, maths and science, so they can get a worthwhile qualification.
Questions on these papers will emphasise real life situations like counting change in a shop or reading a railway timetable.
A return to an exam like the old CSE will be controversial, but ministers will point out that 42 per cent of pupils currently fail to get five good GCSEs, the measure by which schools are judged, meaning teachers have no incentive to help them at all.
This autumn, exam boards will enter a competition to win the right to set the first new O-levels. The Department for Education will announce before Christmas which boards will set the English, maths and science O-levels, with the same exam taken nationwide.
This is expected to lead to resistance from boards like Edexcel, who could lose business unless they land the contracts.
Exam boards will also be told to devise new O-levels in history, geography and modern languages. Mr Gove hopes they will also be ready for pupils beginning study in 2014 but their introduction may take until 2015.
GCSEs will not disappear immediately and schools will be able to continue teaching the English Baccalaureate.
But a document seen by the Mail says: ‘The Department for Education expects that existing GCSEs will disappear’.
In order to persuade schools to adopt the new exams in 2014, the Government will scrap the requirement that pupils should seek to obtain five good GCSEs graded A* to C from 2016 – leaving them free to take on the new gold standard O-levels.
Mr Gove is concerned that the current system simply encourages pupils to study three ‘Mickey Mouse’ GCSE courses like food nutrition on top of English and maths in order to fulfil the requirement.
The plans will also spell the end for pupils racking up 13 or more GCSEs and ensure that they engage in rigorous study in a smaller number of subjects. Cambridge University currently sets O-levels for pupils in other countries.
In Singapore, between two-thirds and three-quarters of pupils take O-levels and the Government believes the same should be true of Britain.
Schools will now be encouraged to enter pupils for exams when they are ready. In Singapore, some pupils take O-levels at 15, while others take three years and sit them at 17.
Headteachers will also be given sweeping powers to teach what they like when they like. The leaked document says Mr Gove ‘will abolish the secondary National Curriculum and not replace it. All existing programmes of study will be withdrawn from September 2013’.
Academies, now more than half of secondary schools, can already roam off the National Curriculum. But by tearing it up, Mr Gove will prevent a future Labour government of changing the law to impose it on academies again.
A senior Whitehall source said the plans will put an end to politicians using grade inflation to make outlandish claims about rising standards. Last night a spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘We do not comment on leaks.’