Headteacher wants parents' view on education reform

4:00pm Friday 16th November 2012

By Emily Roberts

A BASINGSTOKE secondary school headteacher is urging parents to have their say on the Government’s plans to change the education system.

Betty Elkins, head at Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College, has written to parents to encourage them to respond to the consultation before December 10.

She said: “It is your children who will be affected. It is their future at stake.”

In September, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced proposals to change the examination structure for secondary school children.

A consultation paper has been published by the Department for Education, detailing the plans in which GCSEs will be replaced with English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs). If approved, the changes would be adopted in 2015, with the first exams held in 2017, affecting the current Year 7 students.

Mrs Elkins, pictured, said: “We are concerned that we will see the development of a two-tier system which will reward the most able and leave others with a ‘statement of achievement’ from their school but not national qualification.”

The consultation document claims the plans will “restore rigour and confidence to our examination system at age 16, which has been undermined by years of continued grade inflation.”

The qualifications would be offered in the core academic subjects of English, maths, science, foreign languages, history and geography.

Pupils who gain good grades in these subjects will be awarded the full English Baccalaureate. Each subject would be provided by one exam board to remove competition.

All pupils in England would sit the exams, although less able students could delay taking them until 17 or 18.

Mrs Elkins said the consultation fails to discuss some subjects including art, music, dance, business studies and PE.

She added: “At Cranbourne, we have long advocated the importance of having a broad and balanced curriculum with a strong degree of choice to cater for the differing interests of aptitudes of students. Concern has already been raised in the media about the silence regarding the arts.”

Mrs Elkins also raised issues about students of average or below average ability.

She said: “The consultation mentions the possibility of schools issuing a ‘statement of achievement’ for those who fail to attain the EBCs. The implication is that these students would be expected to go on to college and re-sit their EBCs at the age of 17 and 18. There is an obvious concern here for those who wish to see an inclusive approach to education.”

She warned parents that the changes would also bring an end to coursework being used as a means of assessment.

Staff and governors at the school will now discuss the proposals and make a formal response to the consultation.

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