Monday, 17 September 2012

An Exam For All Abilities (Guest Post by David Laws MP)


The Coalition has today announced our plan to replace GCSEs with new, reformed qualifications.

Our proposals will restore rigour to the exam system, allow us to compete on the international stage, and end years of grade inflation under Labour.

When some Conservatives suggested that we could bring back the 1950s O-Level, Nick Clegg immediately made it clear that Liberal Democrats would not tolerate such a move.  Liberal Democrats will never accept a return to an unfair, two-tier system that divides children into winners and losers at a young age.

That’s why Nick negotiated with the Conservatives over the summer to ensure that the exam system will be more rigorous, but will also have Liberal Democrat ideas of fairness and social mobility at its heart.  Our new qualification will:

  • Be designed for the same children who currently sit GCSEs – whatever their ability level;
  • Stretch those at the top while ending the cap on aspiration that means some children sit exam papers which don’t allow them to achieve more than a grade C;
  • Reward children for their individual aptitude and ability – unlike the O-Level there will be no cap on top grades;
  • Include new provision for the very small number of children, including those with special educational needs, who don’t sit GCSEs at the moment.

We have also ensured there will be full consultation with teachers, parents and others in education.  That means that the first teaching for these new exams, which we propose calling English Baccalaureate Certificates, will begin in 2015.

By working together in coalition Liberal Democrats have been able to secure a new qualification fit for the future, that will benefit all students and not just the privileged few.

Best wishes,

David Laws MP
Liberal Democrat Minister of State for Education