GCSE grading changes mean trauma and chaos for pupils, Labour claims

Jeremy Corbyn criticises changes to GCSEs and says students should not be forced to rote learn poetry for English Literature paper

Will Hazell

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The government's shake up of the GCSE grading system has made sitting the exams "traumatic", Jeremy Corbyn has said. 

Launching Labour's education policies for the 2017 general election at an event in Leeds today, the party's leader also said students should not have to rote learn poetry for the GCSE English Literature exam because it would "put them off poetry for the rest of their lives".

Asked about his views on the government's reforms to GCSE grades - which will begin to transition to a new 1 to 9 scale this summer - Mr Corbyn said he felt for pupils "going through the trauma of starting GCSEs".

He continued: "Going through day after day of that very complex matrix of exams and knowing that the grading system has been so changed that they’re going to feel a bit devalued at the end of it.

"That has to be explained, it has to be explained in the publication of the results and it has to be explained to all future employers and universities exactly what it means to have done your GCSEs in 2017 compared to 2016."

"It is a very traumatic time and you think of all the students working really really hard," he said.

Angela Rayner, Labour's shadow education secretary, said the changes had been "chaotic".

“I talk to businesses and they think it’s chaos… half of them don’t even know that this new grading system is coming in.” 

"Quite frankly there will be many students that get their results at GCSEs in September and will feel failures and it’s not their failure, it’s this government's failure."

When asked specifically what Labour would do about the situation, Ms Rayner told journalists to wait for detail in the party's manifesto.

Mr Corbyn was asked a question by a pupil whose sister is currently doing GCSE English Literature. She said she had to "memorise 15 poems" when "only one or two was going to appear in the exam".

In response, the Labour leader said he could “probably quote much more than 15 poems actually, because I love poetry".

"But the idea that that you would send the young person into an exam having to remember 15 poems - on the basis of one of them might show up on the exam paper - is going to put them off poetry for the rest of their lives," he said.

"That is not what we want to achieve. I want people to love poetry and be inspired by it, not be put off it."


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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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