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News - 7 February 2013

Baccalaureate plans abandoned

Plans to scrap GCSEs in key subjects in England and replace them with English Baccalaureate Certificates are being abandoned by the government.

The new baccalaureate certificate was billed by the government as having a tougher syllabus, with exams at the end of the course in a return to an O-level style traditional qualification.

Last week a report from the Commons Education Select Committee issued a "red light" warning to the government, urging it to slow down and rethink its proposed changes to GCSEs and the exam system.

The change means plans for the new qualification, announced in September, will be shelved, while GCSEs are retained, despite having been condemned by the education secretary.

Former schools minister and Tory MP Nick Gibb told the BBC's Today programme the reversal was more of a "tweak" to a broader package of reforms.

He said the GCSE would be rigorous and "one of the best in the world", adding that there was agreement across the political spectrum that there had been grade inflation in results over the past few years. The plan now was for England's exams regulator to be a more effective guard against that, he said.

The announcements on abandoning the new qualifications come alongside the publication of changes to the curriculum for primary and secondary schools.

There will be a new eight-subject measure of GCSEs, including English and maths, three subjects out of sciences, languages, history and geography and three other subjects, such as art, music or RE.

Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the government had "slammed on the brakes just before the cliff face".

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

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