Coursework has benefits. It motivates some pupils. It tests different skills from exams and it prepares young people for the world of work, where a good performance is required every week, not just once a year. But the extent of public mistrust of its reliability increases by the year. Add to that the burden on pupils and teachers of drafting and redrafting work, and the need for a new approach is clear.
A return to a system where end-of-course exams determine pupils' grades in most subjects, which Dr Boston seems to envisage, is not the answer. The case for assessing pupils throughout the year is a strong one but it should be done by teachers in the course of normal lessons and homework, not through the special assignments and projects which constitute coursework.
Mike Tomlinson, the former chief inspector, proposed that chartered examiners, externally-accredited experienced teachers, working in their own schools, should have the job of grading pupils' work throughout the course.
Their marking could be moderated and their assessment would form a percentage of the final grade. The proposal foundered on ministers'
reluctance to trust teachers. They should. Otherwise, we shall end up with an exam system better fitted to the 19th century than the 21st.