Time to bin the GCSE?

17th February 2012 at 00:00

Tony Little's call for GCSEs to be abolished ("A Little idea: replace GCSEs with a leaving certificate", 10 February) is to be welcomed by all those who care about young people's education and well-being.

Those who defend compulsory examinations for 14- to 16-year-olds often argue that young people learn valuable "life skills" in the process, but what does this actually mean? The average GCSE student sits a vast number of exams, in total silence, hour after hour and over weeks. Their work is sent off to an anonymous examiner and the marks are awarded with no feedback. Then, when the results are published, the whole country denigrates their achievements, claiming that they are valueless and dumbed-down. What skills are developed through this process?

But there is another way. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme allows schools to design curricula for the needs of their pupils: assessment is continuous, with no examinations, and moderated externally. The programme better prepares pupils for sixth-form study, has academic depth and, crucially, develops skills they will need in the real world. Instead of worrying about the next exam and chasing the highest grade, pupils can focus on what really matters: their learning.

David James, Director of IB, Wellington College.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now