Michael Gove fails his GCSEs
When it comes to unthought through educational idiocy, Michael Gove is the gift that keeps on giving for his political opponents. (See my previous Dale Street post about public examinations in May 2012).
The overall thrust of his policies so far in the two years of the Coalition Government has been to accelerate the "reforms" of the previous government to detach schools from local authority "control" with oversight instead being wielded solely from the perennially dysfunctional Education Department in Whitehall and to introduce a two tier system involving a significantly greater degree of selection via the back door. We have seen a straw in the wind for this locally where one secondary Academy is responsible for around half the permanent exclusions in the city.
It is said those who ignore the lessons of history are fated to repeat the mistakes which produced those lessons. The notion of splitting the current GCSEs into something like the old style GCE O Levels and CSEs would replicate the system we used to have which was discarded because even grade 1 CSEs were regarded by employers and FE institutions as relatively worthless.
It also meant that instead of having a formal means of selection via the 11 plus exam, informal selection took place at a later date. This at least had the virtue of being marginally less stigmatising and arguably less confidence shattering for most children than the 11 plus but there wasn't a lot in it.
There are very valid reasons why we moved to the current GCSE system. It would be foolish in the extreme to try to turn the clock back to a mythical golden educational age from the 1950s (which never actually existed) and reintroduce the rigidities of the British class system into secondary education in a social engineering agenda which would be doomed to failure, not least because it would fail too many children - again.
Not all children are academically inclined although all need to have functionality in English, Mathematics and computer skills at the very least. Gove would be far better employed in seeking to deliver real parity of esteem into the secondary sector and if he genuinely believes GCSEs need reform, then a move towards greater weight being given to the final exam coupled with gradual introduction of a broader, more challenging curriculum would be far preferable.
Hopefully as this nonsense does not form part of the Coalition Agreement, the Liberal Democrats may redevelop some backbone and despatch this "policy" into political oblivion where it belongs.