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Qualification changes are a recipe for disaster, says ATL

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has warned the government risks creating a recipe for disaster by making too many changes at once to qualifications.

Reports suggest Education Secretary Michael Gove is planning to replace GCSEs with a new qualification called “I levels”, which will see the current A* to G grades scrapped in favour of a numbering system. It would be Gove’s third attempt at reforming GCSEs.

Qualifications regulator Ofqual is set to consult on GCSE reform shortly, although it is still not clear whether these proposals will be included in the consultation.

“Neither is it clear as yet, how these changes will affect the quality of the new qualifications content,” said ATL general secretary Mary Bousted.

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“We believe that many students will be disadvantaged by the move away from a modular GCSE structure to an exam at the end of two years. Given that the school leaving age is rising to 18, should the government be considering whether there is an actual need for assessment at 16?

“In addition, changes proposed for 2015 in England, will not be applied in Wales or Northern Ireland, meaning different exams, possibly with the same name. This could lead to issues of qualification portability for students moving between the three countries. ATL is concerned the proposed timescale is far too short to implement such a large scale reform of GCSEs and also ensure that the exams are fit for purpose. The government is making too many changes at once, to both GCSEs and A-levels, which is a recipe for disaster for young people and teachers.”

Natalie Thornhill

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