Watch this space: GCSEs to be set by just one exam board to halt decline?

From The Telegraph:

Competing exam boards will be abolished under sweeping reforms to GCSE-level qualifications to be set viagra soft out by the Coalition next week. […]

Mr Gove hinted at next week’s plans when he appeared before the Commons education committee this week.

The Commons Education  Select Committee’s records are still not published, so we have to wait for details.

‘Extremely ambitious’ timetable for the introduction of new ‘O levels’

Times Educational Supplement (Friday 20 July 2012, No. 5002, p.16) published ‘The leaked timetable for the introduction of new qualifications’:

Summer 2012 Exam boards are due to bid for franchises to run exams in English, maths and science.

By Christmas 2012 Winning exam boards are expected to be announced.

September 2013 Final cohort of pupils will start GCSEs.

September 2014 O level-style courses in English, maths and science will begin.

Exam standards fall in “race to the bottom”, MPs will say

From The Telegraph:

MPs will this week call for radical changes to the public examinations system to halt a decline in standards.

A report by the all-party Education Select Committee will say that the quality of GCSEs and A-levels has been compromised by a structure which allows competition between exam boards. […]

It is expected to call for the current system of multiple exam syllabuses jostling for business to be scrapped and replaced with one national syllabus for key GCSE subjects. […]

Competition would be removed in key subjects such as maths, English and science and possibly history, geography and modern foreign languages, the other subjects that make up the EBacc. […]

The report is also expected to recommend that exam boards ban the use of their logos and the reproduction of examination material in text books produced by commercial publishers marketed to specific qualifications.

Read full article.


Draft Mathematics Curriculum

On 23 May 2012 Department for Education published Draft Programme of Study for Primary Mathematics. From the official announcement:

The Secretary of State has written to Tim Oates, the Chair of the Expert Panel, with his response to the panel’s recommendations for the primary curriculum. The Secretary of State has also confirmed that he will write again to the panel about the secondary curriculum in due course. You can view a copy of the letter from Michael Gove to Tim Oates regarding the National Curriculum update. Draft Programme of Study for […] mathematics has also been published. These drafts are a starting point for discussion with key stakeholders at this stage, but there will be a full public consultation on revised drafts which will start towards the end of this year.

This blog could be a natural place to start an in-depth discussion of the new curriculum. The following (independently developed) draft curriculum could be useful for such a discussion:

A. D. Gardiner, A draft school mathematics curriculum for all written from a humane mathematical perspective: Key Stages 1–4, The De Morgan Journal, 2 no. 3 (2012),  pp. 1–138.

Abstract: This draft was hammered out by a small group, which included experienced school teachers, textbook authors, curriculum administrators, and mathematicians. In particular, many helpful suggestions from Tony Barnard, Richard Browne, Rosemary Emanuel, and David Rayner have contributed to the current version. It offers a mathematician’s-eye-view of school mathematics to age 16, which we hope will serve as a useful focus for wider discussion and debate.

Comments are most welcome and should be sent to

Anthony.D.Gardiner >>>at<<<

Alternatively, leave a comment at this post.

Amol Rajan: An educational landmark with striking implications

From a article by Amol Rajan in The Independent:

An educational landmark has just been passed that has rather striking implications for our school system. Over the weekend, reports confirmed that pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL) – that is, not their first – are now outperforming their native, English-speaking counterparts for the first time.

Government data, based only on results in England,shows that 80.8 per cent of EAL pupils achieved five A*-C GCSEs last year. That compares with 80.4 per cent of pupils for whom English is a mother tongue. Native English speakers are still just ahead on the five A*-C GCSEs if Maths and English are included – but EAL pupils have closed the gap since 2008, and will probably overtake them in the next couple of years.


GCSEs in mathematics are to be toughened

 in The Telegraph:

GCSEs in key subjects such as English literature and mathematics are to be toughened up amid fears pupils are being allowed to pass with a superficial knowledge of the curriculum, it is announced today.

Examiners are being ordered to redraft syllabuses following warnings from the official qualifications watchdog that exams have become too easy. […]

Today, Ofqual will announce that GCSEs in English literature, mathematics, history, and geography will be re-written to provide the “appropriate range and depth of the subject”.

Glenys Stacey, the watchdog’s chief executive, said the watchdog was “tightening GCSEs in these key subjects to make sure students cover the whole curriculum”. […]

New-style geography and maths syllabuses will be improved for teaching from this autumn, while history and English literature papers will be overhauled in 2013.


Eton head: Axe GCSEs and leave all exams until pupils are 18

From The Telegraph:

Eton head Tony Little would like to see GCSEs replaced with a more general school leaving certificate which would give teachers more power over what they teach and prevent the syllabus from being dictated by the examination system. The change would most likely work alongside plans to extend the school leaving age and stop pupils leaving at 16.