Michael Gove yesterday proved what we all already thought – that he is actually a time traveller in true Orwellian style and has stepped out of his time machine, built in 1958, and landed here in the 21st century. In his statement, announcing that GCSEs would be abolished and replaced by ‘Bacs’ he declared that the GCSE was created for a different time. If that is the case I’d say that Gove’s plans are truly from a different era. Comment was made yesterday that O-levels – upon which the ‘new’ qualification is based – where dropped in the 1980s as it was agreed by all that they’d had their day. In fact everyone in any position of respect in the academic world has dismissed Gove’s plans as barmy.
Of course exams have their place in learning and qualifications but the whole point of moving to the GCSE system, with more focus on coursework and year round learning, was that for the modern era we need a flexible qualification that understands the strengths of all young people and not just a minority of grammar school taught geeks (I’m one of these!) who have been prepped in the art of cramming.
The idea that hundreds of thousands of young people will now leave school with no qualifications in these key subjects, starting their working life feeling like failures, can only be damaging to our society and international competitiveness – contrary to Gove’s claimed intention.
And if anyone still thinks Gove even remotely cares about education at all don’t forget the millions he slashed from Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme – which has delivered world class facilities in Blackburn and Darwen and was the biggest ever investment in our schools.