Scrap GCSEs and A levels to fight racism, say teachers

NEU members vote to call for an end to GCSEs and A levels in favour of assessment that includes 'global perspectives'

Catherine Lough

NEU teachers have voted to scrap GCSEs and A levels in favour of assessment with 'global perspectives' to fight racism and support the Black Lives Matter movement

Teachers have voted to campaign to "replace" the current exams system at GCSE and A level as part of measures to "challenge institutional racism at all levels in the education system".

At the NEU teachers' union annual conference, members voted to pass a motion that included a commitment to "campaign for the development of systems of curriculum and assessment that incorporate global perspectives and that replace current examination systems at GCSE and A level".


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The motion was in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and also highlighted "the renewed impetus BLM has given to calls for schools to implement policies which challenge institutional racism at all levels in the education system, including those affecting pay, promotion and school behaviour policies".

Replacing GCSEs and A levels 'could help to fight racism'

It said it welcomed the publication of the NEU's Anti-Racism Charter and that anti-racist resources should be developed by the union for teachers to use in schools.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “The NEU has today agreed to take forward proposals which strengthen roll-out and implementation of its Anti-Racism Charter. 

“Many schools have been using the NEU’s anti-racist framework, which takes a whole-school approach to challenging racism and increasing representation in the curriculum. The self-evaluation tool has sections on leadership, teaching and learning, wellbeing and belonging and culture and community.

"The NEU has an ambitious plan to support more schools and to develop the confidence and professional skills of members to identify and tackle the effects of racism on all aspects of progress and learning.

“We are witnessing a huge push forward on anti-racism with many schools reviewing their curriculum around social justice issues and the inequalities highlighted by Covid. Many schools and parents recognise that education must reflect the extensive impact of empire, as well as the major contributions and achievements of black people in every subject area.

"It is urgent that all black students can access a positive, engaging and representative curriculum.

“We have got to recognise that racial disparities are still prevalent in assessment and attainment; in the recruitment, retention, pay and progression of black teachers and in the exclusion rate of black pupils," she said.

Dr Bousted pointed out that in the 2018-19 school year, 4,889 exclusions were due to racist abuse, adding that it was "urgent" that teacher training providers helped trainees to create "inclusive, anti-racist practice".

“Today NEU members have pledged to build on the anti-racist work done within the profession so far and to reach out to more schools and colleges, so every student has an entitlement to a fair and equal education," she said.

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Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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