Modular GCSEs to be phased out

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Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that modular GCSEs are to be phased out from September 2012.

Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Gove said, "We have to look at what's happening to exams and to curricula across the globe.One of the things that's happened, unfortunately, over the last 10 years is that other countries have had more rigorous exams, they have had curricula more relevant to the 21st century and we've got to catch up.”

"The problem that we had is that instead of sitting every part of a GCSE at the end of a course, bits of it were taken along the way. Those bits could be resat. That meant instead of concentrating on teaching and learning you had people who were being trained again and again to clear the hurdle of the examination along the way.

"That meant that unfortunately less time was being spent developing a deep and rounded knowledge of the subject.

"I think the culture of resits is wrong. I think that what we need to do is make sure, certainly at GCSE, that you have a clear two-year run."

Currently pupils can sit a series of bite-sized exams as they study a subject. Pupils starting in September 2012 will sit the exams for all their modules at the end of two years. After that, non-modular courses will be brought in.

The Department for Education has issued a statement, saying that it believes the modular system has:

  • made GCSE study a constant churn of modular exams and frequent resits,
  • encouraged some schools to enter children early for exams, especially maths, against their interests, and
  • damaged teaching and has meant more and more time has been lost to resits.

Mr Gove signalled his intention to end modularisation at the end of 2010, and the education White Paper published in November indicated that the government would consult the exams watchdog Ofqual on how GCSEs could be changed.

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