Ken Boston, I'd like to kiss you

7th April 2006 at 01:00
Teachers are cheering the prospect that coursework could be scrapped from many GCSEs and A-levels within four years.

The TES revealed last week how Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, wants to turn many courses into exam-only assessments by 2010.

The move could spell the end of coursework, a major part of secondary school life for 20 years, signalling a return to exam-only GCSEs and A-levels.

Most of those posting on The TES online staffroom this week were overjoyed.

One, "Frederick5", began the discussion, saying "Rejoice, rejoice!! The end of coursework is upon us ..."

"Thank you Ken Boston. I want to give you a big kiss," he wrote. "And then I want to kick you in the nuts for taking five years to realise there was a problem, and another five to do something about it."

Another said: "If this is true, I will be so unbelievably happy, as will most other people I know in the profession. Let's be honest, coursework is a bit of a farce, isn't it?"

Several said that coursework was one of the biggest contributors to teacher stress, as staff sought to extract assignments from unwilling pupils.

"Getting coursework out of them is like wringing the sap out of a nine-inch thick piece of bamboo. (Come to think of it, the bamboo would produce more intelligent stuff than these amoebae)," one teacher wrote.

Several posters said the demise of coursework would stop lazy or less bright pupils being helped by teachers to get grades they did not deserve, often under pressure from school management.

There were some dissenting voices. "Markuss" said it would be a "sad day"

if coursework went from GCSE English, as it was the most valid form of assessment in reading, writing and speaking and listening.

Dr Boston has ruled out scrapping coursework from subjects where it would be nonsensical to test entirely through exams, such as music and art.

The TES understands the coursework review, which started with maths this week, has provoked intense debates within QCA. An internal memo from Dr Boston is believed to have asked whether coursework should have any significant place in the exam system.

Some staff believe that "coursework" is viewed too narrowly and that if teachers were to grade work normally completed during the course, rather than exam board suggested assignments, it would be less susceptible to cheating and a way of cutting the assessment burden.

What do you think of coursework? Join in the debate on www.tes.co.uk or email warwick.mansell@tes.co.uk

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