GCSE change concerns

File photo dated 11/06/08 of pupils sitting an exam. Two teachers' unions will today announce the results of their ballot to boycott this year's Sats tests. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday April 16, 2010. See PA story EDUCATION Sats. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
File photo dated 11/06/08 of pupils sitting an exam. Two teachers' unions will today announce the results of their ballot to boycott this year's Sats tests. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday April 16, 2010. See PA story EDUCATION Sats. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Proposed changes to GCSE examinations have been branded ‘unrealistic’ by the new headteacher of a leading independent school.

Elaine Purves, who is the first female head of Rossall School, has spoken out over the Department for Education’s (DfE) plans, suggesting they smack of an attempt to ensure better outcomes for male students.

Boys currently perform worse than girls in GCSE results under the present structure. But under proposals the exams are being restructured, with coursework scrapped for most subjects and a new grading system will use numbers instead of letters. The co-educational head has also weighed up the pros and cons of the reduction of coursework and controlled assessments, saying while it might ease some pressure on teachers, it is taking away elements of research and writing. She added: “Such radical change, from continuous assessment to one examination at the end of the year, will favour some students and disadvantage others.

“It will help those who can memorise information or revise well but a one-off exam is not the only way that a student’s work should be measured. It is not a realistic test for their life beyond school.”

The changes are to be phased in from Autumn 2015, initially starting with maths, English language and English literature, and affecting those who turn 13 this academic year. Ms Purves claims that in the independent education sector, the results of some non-selective schools could be harmed.

And she suggests the trend of schools opting for IGCSE study – which is considered similar to old O-Levels – instead of GCSE for their pupils will continue apace, because of changes.

She added: “I acknowledge the present system isn’t perfect and I welcome some change but I am disappointed by the Government’s plans, which do not suggest that they have the students at heart.

“Time will tell but I feel for the first few cohorts to be affected by the new style of GCSE, it will be difficult for them.”

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