Education Select Committee chairman calls for GCSEs to be scrapped

Education Select Committee chairman calls for GCSEs to be scrapped

The chairman of the Education Select Committee is expected to call for GCSEs to be scrapped and says England’s education system is in need of a radical overhaul.

Former Tory minister Robert Halfon says GCSEs for 16-year-olds have become "pointless".

The MP for Harlow is advocating GCSEs to be replaced by a baccalaureate at age 18 which recognises academic and technical skills, and personal development because the current exams have become "pointless".

Halfon is due to address an audience of people from the education sector at the Cabinet War Rooms, and is expected to tell them an emphasis on a “knowledge-rich curriculum”, is required through performance measures like the EBacc.

Speaking at the launch of the Edge Future Learning Project Based Learning Toolkit for teachers and schools, he is expected to say: “I fully support the need for every young person to be able to access through their schooling, a working knowledge of our cultural capital, our history and our literature.

“But it is also essential that we are developing our next generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and designers.

“All young people should have access to the technical and creative subjects that will give them the skills that employers are looking for."

Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, backed the underlying principle.

"GCSEs are a product of a different era when many young people left education at the age of 16, but this is no longer the case, and young people are now expected to remain in full-time education or training until the age of 18.

"It would therefore make a great deal of sense to replace GCSEs with some sort of light-touch assessment which would help determine post-16 routes rather than persisting with high-stakes GCSEs."

Lord Baker, who brought in GCSEs, said the exams, which were first introduced in 1988 were now "redundant".

However, a government spokesman defended the value of GCSEs as "the gold standard qualification at age 16 and a passport to further study and employability".

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