Return of O Levels – HMC response

Commenting on reports that the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is considering a two tier exam system which will see the return of O level style exams, Kenneth Durham, Chairman of HMC (The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference) and Headmaster of University College School, said:

“HMC welcomes the principle of increasing the level of academic rigour in GCSE or equivalent exams – the fact that so many of our schools have chosen to switch to IGCSE specifications in most subjects is evidence of our desire for exam courses that stretch and challenge the most able students. However, any such change needs to be introduced with proper care, proper consultation and proper forethought. A knee-jerk return to a nostalgic ‘golden age’ of O levels, run by a state monopoly examination board is naïve and will suit nobody. It is time for the government to listen rather more closely to intelligent and experienced professional teachers.”

HMC (The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference) represents 250 leading co-educational and single-sex independent schools in the UK and abroad. More than 199,000 pupils are educated at HMC schools, 91.7% of whom go on to higher education.