Union should fight to abolish GCSEs

Submitted by martin on 19 February, 2019 - 8:01 Author: Alan Gilbert
Exam hall

Kenneth Baker, the Tory minister who introduced GCSE exams, has called for their abolition.

"They have a profound impact on young people's mental health... exam stress is creating a 'troubled generation'...

"The focus on GCSE performance tables is creating such a pressure to drive up academic results that many schools are... being forced into rote learning to deliver..."

Baker spoke on 11 February, the same day that Robert Halfon, chair of Parliament's Education Select Committee, and a right-wing Tory, made the same call.

Leaders of bosses' organisations have also said GCSEs are counterproductive.

Even from the point of view of helping young people become productive workers - let alone from a broader humanist perspective! - the whole school system has far too many high-stakes public exams.

It doesn't need any. There need to be some prior tests of competence for various jobs, but GCSEs or even A levels are not such tests. Schools should be about learning, not about jumping through hoops.

The shame is that, even though secondary school teachers' work is so dominated and warped by the exam boards, the main school workers' union, the NEU, conducts no campaign even for the abolition of GCSE.

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