Sheffield headteachers welcome GCSE U-turn

Wisewood pupils check their GCSE results last year.
Wisewood pupils check their GCSE results last year.
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SHEFFIELD headteachers have welcomed a Government U-turn on plans to shake up the GCSE system by scrapping courses in key subjects.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has abandoned proposals to replace GCSEs in English, maths and science with new English Baccalaureate Certificates, or EBaccs.

Mr Gove said his blueprint had been ‘a bridge too far’ after the proposals came under withering fire from MPs, teachers and unions.

Newfield School headteacher Tim Eldridge said he agreed EBaccs should be scrapped - and instead GCSEs could be improved.

“Although there are some flaws in the current GCSE examinations, they are not beyond repair,” he said.

“Mr Gove’s initial plans had all the hallmarks of a policy rushed out without thought or consultation with the professionals ‘on the ground’. It is pleasing that he has now listened to voices from all sides who have urged him to think again.

“His ‘one size fits all’ examination would have helped neither the most nor the least able. The reformed GCSE must be rigorous but it also must be relevant to students of all ability levels, whether they are going straight into work and training, or to post-16 study and university,” Mr Eldridge added.

At Firth Park Community Arts College, headteacher Chris Keen said his school had already taken steps to introduce EBacc options - moves that would now have to be reconsidered.

“It seems Michael Gove has finally listened to the professionals involved in education,” he said.

“We will continue to raise aspirations, expectations and standards but across a broad and balanced range of subjects,” Mr Keen said. “Obviously we must now take time to review our EBacc preparations in light of this decision, but we do need to provide for the growing number of students who we believe should be aiming for redbrick universities.”

Former Education Secretary David Blunkett, MP for Brightside and Hillsborough, said the changes were a substantial change in the right direction.

“They will come as a relief to teachers and students alike. The decision recognises the importance of a wider group of qualifications, especially including the creative arts and citizenship,” he said.