Independents reveal ‘grave reservations’ about EBCs

In an article in the TES, 07/12/12, HMC's General Secretary, William Richardson reveals the association's reservations about the introduction of EBCs.

Leading independent schools have "grave reservations" about key elements of the controversial GCSE replacement qualifications planned by ministers, TES can reveal.

The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) group of elite schools is opposed to English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs) being run by a single exam board in each subject and to assessment being 100 per cent external exams.

The organisation, representing more than 250 fee-paying schools, will reveal its concerns to government through an official consultation that closes on Monday.

"There are some broad areas of aspiration that we entirely share (with government) but when it comes to specific proposals these are areas where we have grave reservations," William Richardson, HMC general secretary, told TES.

It was also revealed this week that Glenys Stacey, Ofqual's chief regulator, wrote to the education secretary Michael Gove last month to warn that the aims of EBCs may not be "realistically achievable" through the single assessment he had envisaged.

Dr Richardson said it was too early to predict whether this would happen, but warned that HMC schools were also against the way ministers wanted EBCs to be run. "We are opposed to the proposed franchising of individual subjects to single (exam) boards," he said. "Our members like diversity and choice among boards and we also fear that boards who solely offer a subject will be less accountable on marking and appeals."

He stressed that a GCSE overhaul was "overdue, necessary and a good idea". He added that HMC schools agreed on the need for "more rigour", "more sophisticated examinations" with broader specifications and "much clearer differentiation" between grades.

By William Stewart, TES. Click here to read the article © The TES