Controversial plans to replace GCSEs with English Baccalaureate certificates (not to be confused with the performance measure of the same name, which is still in use) were pulled in 2013 by Michael Gove, then education secretary.
This came after widespread opposition – not least over plans to limit each qualification to one awarding body.
Officials at the Department for Education and exams regulator Ofqual raised concerns that some exam boards could go bankrupt or could even sue the DfE for breaching EU procurement rules.
At the time, Mark Dawe – now chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers – was in charge of exam board OCR. “We, along with the other exam boards, didn’t agree with the policy,” he recalls.
“But we put a lot of work and massive investment into this, and then the government decided they were not going to do it.
“On EBaccs, even the regulator was saying, ‘Everything is changing, and you can’t change everything without creating a significant risk.’ It was very much like the situation with apprenticeships now, and T levels are similar.”