Former skills minster and current chair of the Education Select Committee, Rob Halfon MP, has called for GCSEs to be scrapped. The exams regulator Ofqual reports that the number of people who understand GCSEs well has fallen since last year from 70 percent last to just 62 percent.
Alarmingly, over a third of employers are not aware that 9 is now the top GCSE grade, 23 percent think 1 is the best grade and another 13 percent haven’t a clue! Even more alarming is that six percent of teachers think 1 is the highest GCSE grade!
Given that employers consistently say that exam grades are not at the top of their list of recruitment criteria, surely it’s time we should rethink how we measure the skills, knowledge and aptitudes of young people?
GCSEs are very good for measuring if students are good at passing exams, but not necessarily an indication of employability skills or even academic prowess. A GCSE in maths does not necessarily make you numerate.
Teachers often talk resentfully about ‘teaching to the test’ and the curriculum time taken up with drilling students in exam questions, which could be spent on acquiring a richer and deeper subject knowledge and understanding.
That manner of inquiry also helps to develop the research skills, resilience and creativity which employers value, but also better equips young people to succeed in further and higher education. Read more