HMC welcomes continuing reform of GSCEs: With EBCs abandoned the top priority now is a fundamental overhaul of examining

HMC today welcomes the commitment of the Secretary of State to continue to make GSCE more rigorous.   Like him, HMC believes in greater subject challenge for the 14-16 age group, less repeated assessment over these two years of study and better assessment designed to establish more clearly the knowledge and application that pupils have achieved.

We are pleased that Mr Gove has consulted thoroughly on changes to qualifications at Key Stage 4 and drawn on the best advice to sharpen the direction GCSE of reform. 

With the task of designing English Baccalaureate Certificates removed, the way is clear to address the most urgent problem bringing national qualifications into disrepute – the fundamentally flawed way in which grades are currently awarded in uneasy alliance between the regulator, Ofqual, and the main exam boards. 

Root and branch reform of this relationship is required to end a situation in which almost half of teachers each year feel the need to appeal against pupils’ results and 41% of parents are not confident in the accuracy of GSCE marking.

HMC Chairman and High Master of The Manchester Grammar School, Dr Christopher Ray said:

As Michael Gove has told us, HMC’s critique of England’s examinations industry is “invaluable evidence of serious problems”.   The Chief Regulator and the Chair of the Commons Education Committee have also welcomed our findings. 

As Mr Gove says, it is important that GCSE courses and the design of their assessment become more challenging.  However, this will count for little if examining is not reformed.

We are pleased, therefore, that, within the last week, the Secretary of State has asked us to assist both the DfE and Ofqual in helping to bring about reforms designed to ensure “high-quality, properly accountable examining and examination marking”  This we will do.

Notes to Editors:

A copy of the HMC’s report: England’s ‘examinations industry’: deterioration and decay can be found by clicking here.

HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference), established in 1869, is the oldest and largest (in pupil numbers) of the UK independent schools’ associations. Its 253 members include most of the largest and most successful senior day, boarding, single-sex and co-educational schools and educate more than 200,000 children.