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The English Baccalaureate Certificate is coming regardless of what happens in 2015

17 September 2012

There’s much speculation today that Labour’s decision to oppose the coalition’s GCSE replacement the EBC means that the new exams will never happen. The argument goes that if the Tories aren’t in government, Labour — or a Labour-led coalition — would simply keep GCSEs going. (This depends on Labour continuing to oppose the new exams which they may not if they prove to be as popular as some pollsters expect them to be).

But keeping GCSEs going is nowhere near as simple as it sounds. The exam boards will now turn nearly all of their attention to winning the one available English Baccalaureate Certificate contract for each subject. Those boards that are not successful in the 2013 competitions are unlikely to keep on staff to work on GCSE courses that are set to be scrapped while their markers are likely to look for employment elsewhere.

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What is, perhaps, even more important, though, is that academies, which will make up the overwhelming majority of secondary schools by 2015, are free to choose which exams they enter their pupils for. They are likely to start moving across to either the iGCSE or the new EBCs rather than sticking with GCSEs which may well be abolished in three years time.

By 2015, GCSEs will no longer be the status quo as far as schools and the education bureaucracy are concerned. This means that continuing with them will not be anywhere near as easy as it sounds.

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  • david

    The Tories great reorganisations, local government, the poll tax, railways, energy now education just another disaster to add to the list.

  • Stepney

    In nearly every other country in Europe there is one exam set and marked by one central exam board. In an area of such strategic importance this is one area of state monopoly which makes complete sense. Any student anywhere in the land takes the same exam and an employer or an institution of higher education can ensure effective and clear differentiation can take place. It’s important. No-one really wants mediocrity in the operating theatre. Gove’s plan is pure, unadulterated common sense and even after stamping their little feet, the Lib Dems couldn’t stand in its way (though God knows they tried).

    What amuses is the predictable, floundering gibberish being vomited up by the usual suspects – the Labour Party, the Unions, the Educational Establishment – ‘a two tier system!’ they cry forgetting, conveniently, that the entire dogs breakfast they created had foundation level GCSEs, BTEC level 1s, OCR Certiifcates and all manner of second, third and fourth tier ‘qualifications’ to ensure the second, third and fourth tiers had a piece of paper to take home. There’s noting two tier about the EBACC. One people, one student body, one exam, different but coherent outcomes.

    At last! Politics works! The people have spoken and somebody, thank f, has listened.

    • marzipanlil

      Well said. I’m not working in a school at the moment and am therefore spared the endless Gove bashing which I know will be going on in state school staff rooms. I cannot understand the predictable negativity that pours out of the NUT. The new proposals are exciting.

  • Ian

    Why should the losing exam boards simply shut up shop? Edexcel and Cambridge both offer the IGCSE and Cambridge still offers O levels. All boards including the Welsh and NI ones offer GCSEs. More children sat the infamous Welsh Board English GCSE in England than in Wales. In a free market of academies, there is no guarantee that heads will not go shopping. Gove may threaten that this will take a school out of the thing we dare no longer call a league table, but for many heads a DNS would be a better result than trailed in nearly last.
    In the immortal words of Screaming Lord Such, “why is there only one Monopolies Commission?”

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