Academy heads have written to Michael Gove to ask him to delay controversial changes to GCSE entry rules.
Last weekend the education secretary accused some secondaries of “cheating” and acting against pupils interests by entering them early in GCSEs to improve school league table positions.
To counter it he revealed that future school league tables would only count pupils’ first attempt at a GCSE, rather than their best effort.
But the Independent Academies Association (IAA) has told Mr Gove that the crackdown, which is already leading to schools withdrawing from exams next month, would “damage” pupils “prospects of success this year”.
It comes as Stephen Twigg also criticised the minister's plans, claiming it was "yet another back-of-the-envelope policy unravelling".
Government research shows academies have been far more likely to use the early entry tactic than all other types of schools.
In 2010, there was only 11 per cent of the entire academy and city technology college sector with no early entries in maths or English GCSEs.
Now in a letter to Mr Gove, IAA chair Nick Weller, has said: “I am not sure that the Department has fully understood the unintended consequences of previous mid-course changes in relation to the GCSE qualification, and I fear that these latest revisions, if they are as reported, will further undermine confidence in the system.”
He adds: “I ask you to delay the proposed changes for a year, to ensure that current Year 11 students can continue their courses as planned.
“Above all, I would urge you to consult properly with those professionals you trust on any further revisions to the examination system.”
Schools are still free to continue entering pupils for GCSEs whenever they like. It is only the way that their performance measures are calculated that will change.
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