Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, has suggested that he wats to reform the education procedure for 14-19 year olds, replacing GCSEs with a baccalaureate qualification.
Traditionally, there is a divide between academic and vocational qualifications, and there are strong arguments that young children can be pigeonholed in to one or the other, before they have really developed their own interests and skills. This can happen along gender, class, race, religious and regional lines, and is touched upon in our blog regarding the lack of girls in STEM professions.
Hunt goes further with his calls for a reform of the education system, suggesting that schools should be open from 8am-6pm. This would give time for professionals with a range of skills – such as debators, chefs and actors – to take classes and offer children a chance to explore subjects beyond the traditional timetable.
This is not the first time that GCSEs – which cost £600 million a year and do not feature in other major education systems – have been under scrutiny. In 2009 Peter Hyman, once a key figure of New Labour who then became the headteacher of a comprehensive school, also called for them to be abolished. He claimed that GCSE’s caused a culture of teaching students what they needed to know to pass, without a wider scope of knowledge or experience. He said: “GCSE exam results are not a true reflection of the talent of my students… It is time to scrap them.”
What is your opinion? It is generally accepted that there is more weight put on academic subjects than technical or vocational; would you like to see a heavier focus on all areas, to broaden your child’s experience in school?
Let us know your thoughts!