Replace GCSEs with baccalaureate, says Conservative MP | Education

GCSE exams in England should be scrapped and replaced with a baccalaureate for school leavers that includes vocational skills and personal development, as part of a radical overhaul proposed by an influential Conservative MP. Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow who chairs the House of Commons education select committee, is the first Conservative policymaker to break ranks over the future of GCSE exams, after the government’s efforts to improve their status by making them more difficult. Halfon, who has campaigned…

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Denying loans to students with weaker A-levels will ‘penalise poor families’ | Education

Plans to deny student loans to those with lower A-level grades would hit poor families in regions where social mobility is already stalling, data obtained by Education Guardian shows. In the north-east a third of students who would be denied a university education come from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Four months ago, the education secretary, Damian Hinds, launched Opportunity North East, a £24m campaign to raise aspirations and stop children in the region feeling they’ve been “left behind”. But the…

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No other European country tests children at 16: let’s scrap pointless GCSEs | Sandra Leaton Gray | Education

We all could and should be having a relaxed summer but instead, 16-year-olds are grimly anticipating their GCSE results this Thursday. It doesn’t have to be this way. The UK is the only European country to have high-stakes testing at 16, with others adopting a more enlightened approach. This I discovered while leading a research project in 2016 that involved watching polyglot pupils in the European schools mill around their airy buildings in jeans and T-shirts. The European schools are…

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How to retain teachers in the current climate? | Letters | Education

Damian Hinds’ recognition of the need for a new teacher retention and recruitment strategy is to be welcomed (Fewer emails, more job shares: a new strategy to retain teachers, 26 January), but his proposals don’t get to the heart of the matter. As numerous studies have shown, it is not workload but what teachers perceive as the increase in unnecessary and unproductive tasks that is the main problem. The most burdensome of these tasks is recording, inputting, monitoring and analysing…

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Tougher GCSEs widen gap between poorer and better-off pupils | Education

The introduction of new, tougher GCSE exams in England has led to a widening of the gap between the results achieved by disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers, according to official figures. The Department for Education (DfE) analysis of last summer’s GCSE exams found the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others at secondary school grew by 0.6 percentage points, after two years in which it had narrowed. While disadvantaged pupils showed an improvement in the proportion gaining a grade 5…

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Steiner schools aren’t cranky – we develop heart, head and soul | Letters | Education

Zoe Williams (These Steiner ‘failures’ are really a failure of the free school agenda, theguardian.com, 18 January) is wrong to imply that Steiner schools endorse the sometimes odious views of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner himself argued against this. This misconception is as ridiculous as saying that Britain’s most esteemed schools still promote the views of founders who may have traded slaves or opposed votes for women. Steiner schools attract a diverse group of parents who are highly committed to their children’s…

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GCSE pupils in England outperform those in Wales | Education

Higher levels of immigration and the distorting effects of league tables may explain why children in England outperform those in Wales at GCSEs, according to research. The study by the Education Policy Institute found children in Wales did as well as or better than their peers in England until the end of primary school. But by the time of GCSEs at the age of 16, those in England were more likely to get grade C or above. The new study…

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