The speed and scale of the government’s planned GCSE overhaul could jeopardise the English exam system, ministers have been warned by a Conservative-led committee of MPs.

Graham Stuart, chairman of the Commons education committee, said: “Ministers want to introduce a new qualification …a step-change in standards, and alter the way exams are administered …We believe this is trying to do too much, too quickly.”

Michael Gove, education secretary, intends to replace the GCSE – the exam taken by 16 year olds – with a new qualification called an EBC in core academic subjects from 2017. Each EBC would be awarded by one exam board and would be heavier in content.

MPs were concerned that the plans would not help “underachievement or in narrowing the attainment gap”. They also questioned the Department for Education assumption that making exams tougher will “automatically result in …higher standards”.

The report echoes a wide-ranging critique of the EBC plans by Ofqual, the qualifications regulator. It also follows an attack by universities last week, led by Cambridge university, on Mr Gove’s plans to reform the A-level qualification.

The Department for Education said: “We have been clear that the secondary education system is in desperate need of a thorough overhaul – an objective with which the committee agrees.”

Under Mr Gove’s plan, pupils would sit EBCs in English, mathematics, sciences, history, geography and languages.

Get alerts on Michael Gove when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article