Tristram Hunt uses resignation to urge Corbyn to back abolition of GCSEs

Former shadow education secretary calls on Labour leader to support academic and technical baccalaureates as an alternative

Adi Bloom

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Tristram Hunt, the former shadow education secretary, has urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to support the abolition of GCSEs, as he resigned as an MP in a letter submitted today.

Mr Hunt has said that he will be standing down from his post as MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.

In a resignation letter sent to Jeremy Corbyn today, he wrote: “I would still urge you to adopt a programme of abolishing GCSEs; introduce academic and technical baccalaureates; offer universal, high-quality early-years provision; and invest in effective apprenticeships.”

Mr Hunt has long supported the abandonment of GCSEs, going beyond the official position set out in the Labour party’s 2015 election manifesto, when he was shadow education secretary.

'Out of kilter'

He said that the exam was increasingly irrelevant, now that the majority of pupils left school at 18, rather than 16.

That year, he told the Today programme: “In a decade’s time, if we have still got GCSEs in England, in Britain, we will be completely out of kilter with other European countries and not giving young people what they need.”

Instead, he argued for academic and vocational baccalaureates, saying: “That would remove some of the exam overload.”

In today's resignation letter, Mr Hunt – a former academic and TV historian – added: "I also believe the programme which myself, Kevin Brennan and the Shadow Education Team developed for the 2015 General Election was radical and right.

"Visiting schools and colleges in Stoke and across the country, meeting with teachers and parents and students, allowed me to see the remarkable commitment of English school leaders to their mission as educationalists.

"But also it highlighted the harrowing effects of poverty and inequality upon social mobility. These experiences will continue to drive me in my new position."

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