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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

New report says GCSEs should be scrapped in favour of assessments to age 19

A new report by an independent commissioner is calling for GCSEs to be scrapped to address “growing mental health crisis in schools”.

A new report published yesterday is calling for GCSEs to be scrapped in favour of assessments throughout the school year and up to the age of 19.

The report by The Independent Assessment Commission (IAC) says that the GCSE system should be overhauled, and pupils should have opportunities to demonstrate their skills up to the age of 19 rather than at a fixed point at the age of 16.

The report marks a major change in thinking about how England should assess its young people in schools and colleges. The IAC, which brings together academics, teachers, and students, undertook its review of the English GCSE system during the Covid-19 pandemic when full public exams were cancelled for two years in a row in 2020 and 2021, prompting major changes to the grading system.

GCSEs should be scrapped in favour of assessment between 14 and 19, says the report. Image: Anoushka P.

The report says it is “focused on ensuring that the education qualification system in England equips young people with the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to help address the current and emerging social and economic challenges.”

It also provides recommendations for schools and colleges to create a system that helps young people leave school with a broader skillset that would make them more ready for Further Education, Higher Education, and the workplace.

To achieve this, the report argues that “fundamental changes” to the current system are needed and that change should begin with GCSEs.  The IAC argues that children GCSES should still be part of education but a change to “meet the needs of every young person and address the growing mental health crisis in our schools” is needed.

The IAC has concluded that how GCSEs are awarded should be comprehensively overhauled, with an end to “cliff edge exams” as the sole mode of assessment of all young people at the age of 16.

The report says assessment should instead take place between the ages of 14 and 19, and at a time when students are ready to undertake them.

The change will improve equality, diversity and inclusion says the report. Image: Robin Worrall.

The reason for this, the report says, is to improve equality, diversity, inclusion, and promote the health and well-being in students.

Professor Louise Hayward, Chair of the IAC said: “The IAC has concluded that the current approach to qualifications requires fundamental change. It is beyond doubt that it is failing its own test to provide a system of assessment that sufficiently serves society, the economy and the young people being educated in England’s schools and colleges.

“Today, we have laid out a vision, a set of principles and a series of specific recommendations for a New Era of equitable, reliable, assessment. The IAC report identifies inequalities deeply ingrained in a system and which must change if there is to be greater educational equality.

“We need a system that helps every young person to progress to college, employment or university with qualifications that recognise their achievements and the capabilities they need to succeed in the challenging times that lie ahead. New ERA qualifications should open doors to future learning and employment for every young person.

“Currently, too many young people feel that they are denied opportunities because their time at school has not been properly recognized – this is not good for them, nor is it good for their future employers, our economy and society.

“England’s exam system needs to change. Equality, diversity, inclusion and health and well-being must be central to an assessment system that has a positive impact on all students.

“The proposed IAC reforms will help attract and retain teachers by recognising and developing their professionalism, providing greater job satisfaction as they help students develop further their skills in problem-solving, critical thought and innovation.

“Ending high stakes exams as the only mode of assessment will improve mental health and reduce the stress experienced by teachers, students and their parents and will also ensure that disadvantaged students receive the support they need and that practical, technical skills, and ‘soft’ skills of collaboration, teamwork, creativity and entrepreneurship are recognized.

“The time has come for change. We urge policymakers to listen to this report and act upon it. Our economy, our society and our young people need nothing less.”

Do you think GCSEs should be scrapped? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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