We're 'absolutely' keeping GCSEs, says Williamson

Education secretary shoots down calls to abolish the qualification, as he addresses heads at ASCL conference

John Roberts

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Gavin Williamson has told school leaders that the government has no plans to scrap GCSEs and he expects the qualification to be around "for a lot longer".

The education secretary was asked about whether the qualification could be reformed, during his appearance at the Association of School and College Leaders' online annual conference today.

He said: "We are absolutely going to be keeping GCSEs. I personally think it is really important to have examination and full assessment at the age of 16.

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"We are certainly not looking at getting rid of age assessments, so I think GCSEs are going to be there for an awful lot longer."

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He was responding to a question by ASCL president Richard Sheriff, who asked: "A range of people within and beyond education believe now is the moment for us to rethink the purpose of GCSE and to reform how and why we assess people at GCSE. What is your view on the future of GCSEs?"

Earlier this week, schools standards minister Nick Gibb told MPs that there were "absolutely" no plans within the Department for Education to scrap GCSEs over the long term. 

Speaking at a Commons Education Select Committee hearing on grading in 2021, Mr Gibb said he thought GCSEs were a "gold standard" qualification and that the government wanted exams back after the pandemic. 

There has been increased debate about the future of GCSEs, with bodies such as the Chartered College of Teaching arguing that it is time to rethink assessment at 16

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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