Gove should consider impact of GCSE reforms on Key Stage 3
Release Date 18 September 2012
Following Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove's announcement on reforms to the GCSE exams for 16-year-olds, Dr Richard Harris, of the University of Reading's Institute of Education and a member of the Historical Association's secondary committee, said:
"The government's proposed reforms of GCSEs are a missed opportunity to provide genuine improvements to secondary education in England. There are many problems that exist with GCSEs, but making piecemeal changes to the methods of assessment could create as many new problems as they solve.
"Of particular concern is how this will affect 11- to 14-year-olds, in Key Stage 3 (KS3). Many schools are already squeezing KS3 into two years and starting pupils on KS4 a year early, during Year Nine, to prepare them for GCSEs. This means KS3, the only period of a pupil's education when he or she has a genuine comprehensive education, is easily neglected. The system too often leaves teaching for younger children in many subjects, such as modern languages or history, sidelined as schools focus on improving test results of older children.
"Michael Gove's proposals will leave hundreds of schools having to revamp their entire approach to Year Nine. This will cause enormous uncertainty for school heads, and potentially leave current 11-year-olds in limbo. If Mr Gove wants to broaden and deepen the academic endeavours of 16-year-olds, his proposals must embrace evidence-based reforms to the whole system - not tinker around the edges."