Don’t drop GCSEs

Filling the pail

Robert Halfon is a British politician. He chairs the Education Select Committee, a committee made-up of members of parliament whose duty is to hold British education ministers to account. Halfon has been quoted as suggesting, “Get rid of GCSEs, which seem to me pointless. Instead there should be some kind of assessment to show how far you’re progressing.”

This would be a bad move.

GCSEs are the exams that sixteen-year-olds take in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no equivalent exam in Australia and when I first moved here, I was struck by the difference this made. Whatever their flaws, GCSEs act as a focal point to sharpen the curriculum in in subjects other than maths and English. Without them, notions of cross-curricular fluffiness can take hold. Moreover, there is nothing compelling teachers and students to develop habits of homework and revision. In fact, the reverse motivation can be…

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