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South Essex teachers prepare for change from GCSEs to EBacc
LESS coursework, fewer retakes and a greater focus on end of course exams – the new EBacc is set to test pupils to the limit.
The new English baccalaureate – the EBacc – will eventually replace GCSEs, doing away with modules and cutting back on the use of classroom assessment.
The proposal, by Education Secretary Michael Gove, is out for consultation, with Labour politicians bitterly opposed to the changes.
Under the plans, traditional grades of A* to C are likely to go in favour of numeric marks or even percentages, which will allow universities to distinguish between top candidates.
Mr Gove is highly critical of the way about a third of pupils are awarded A and A* GCSE grades. Using numeric grades would mean about 10 per cent of pupils are awarded the top grade.
Across south Essex, headteachers are doing their own homework on the proposals and the feedback so far is mixed.
Carol Skewes, headteacher of Cornelius Vermuyden School, in Dinant Avenue, Canvey , said: “Although this is billed as the EBacc, it bears no resemblance to a proper baccalaureate, which is a holistic approach to education with elements of choice and personal study. The proposal by Mr Gove is just a set of terminal exams grouped together.
“Top performing counties in the international survey of Education (PISA survey), that Mr Gove loves to quote, tend to rely on continuous assessment by teachers who are not burdened by constant changes brought about by a succession of politicians, and their students are not continuously tested.
“Terminal exams favour more able students with good memories. They are not going to produce the skills necessary for our future economy and competitiveness in the world market.
“It is those from less favoured backgrounds who will suffer.”
However, Westcliff High School for Boys head teacher, Mike Skelly, said it was important to “increase the value” of education.
He said of the new qualification: “We need to ensure it adds vigour, improves reputation and provides opportunities for all young people to obtain a qualification of value.”
He also said pupils should be able to cope with a final exam.
He said: “There are some difficulties emerging with coursework, and security of who is completing it in some cases. Class assessment has absorbed a lot of teaching time and it will rebalance that, which I welcome.”
But Belfairs principal Bev Williams stressed the importance of having a rounded education.
She said: “There will be a personal curriculum for every child.”
EBacc exams will initially be held in English, maths and the option of three separate sciences from September 2015, for examination two years later. EBacc courses could be taught from 2016 in history, geography and languages.
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