Wales education minister Leighton Andrews says dropping GCSEs is a ‘backward step’

'BACKWARD STEP': Wales education minister Leighton Andrews

'BACKWARD STEP': Wales education minister Leighton Andrews

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

THE future of GCSEs in Wales remains uncertain, despite the qualification being formally scrapped in England today.

Westminster education minister Michael Gove unveiled plans this afternoon to replace them with a single end-of-course exam known as the English Baccalaureate Certificate or EBACC.

Pupils in England who started secondary school this year will be the first to sit the new exams and only one exam board will deliver each subject, he said.

But Wales’ education minister Leighton Andrews branded the move a "backward step".

Speaking before Mr Gove’s announcement, he told BBC Radio 4 Wales may choose to keep GCSEs, but said he would not know until the outcome of an ongoing Welsh Government’s review into the matter.

He has previously ruled out a return to O-Level style exams.

Following the news of the new EBACC, a Welsh Government spokesman said: "As always, our priority will be to ensure that the best interests of our learners are the focus of any decisions that we take. In Wales we are taking an evidence-based approach through our Review of 14-19 Qualifications. This is a decision that cannot be rushed and Welsh Ministers are committed to avoiding significant changes to GCSEs until after the outcomes of the Review are known at the end of November."

The review is looking at which qualifications have most relevance and value, whether existing qualifications are of the right quality, if they achieve their purpose and whether any qualifications should be stopped.

It will also explore how the system could be simplified and better understood, whether it would be beneficial to have fewer qualifications or awarding bodies and what the implications would be if Wales went its own way from England.

Findings at the end of November and no decisions will be taken about changes to GCSEs in Wales until then.

Comments (8)

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7:16pm Mon 17 Sep 12

crosskeysgirl18 says...

Stupid, stupid, stupid!! The exams are already hard enough as it is! We dont need any harder exams thanks!
Stupid, stupid, stupid!! The exams are already hard enough as it is! We dont need any harder exams thanks! crosskeysgirl18
  • Score: 0

8:21pm Mon 17 Sep 12

Ian Perry says...

For the sake of the kids, who may one day want to live, study and/or work outside of Wales, Wales has to adopt the EBACC.

The fact it's called the EBACC and not the UKBACC or BBACC might cause some problems for some and the name may need review, but this appears to be a positive step forward.

I've little confidence in Leighton Andrews...
For the sake of the kids, who may one day want to live, study and/or work outside of Wales, Wales has to adopt the EBACC. The fact it's called the EBACC and not the UKBACC or BBACC might cause some problems for some and the name may need review, but this appears to be a positive step forward. I've little confidence in Leighton Andrews... Ian Perry
  • Score: 0

8:41pm Mon 17 Sep 12

Limestonecowboy says...

I would suggest feedback from business as potential employers will give a picture of the existing system - it won't be pretty & something needs to change.

Leighton Andrews will upgrade the WJEC results only in Wales whereas someone sitting under the same body in England will be required to keep the grade - what a shambles.
I would suggest feedback from business as potential employers will give a picture of the existing system - it won't be pretty & something needs to change. Leighton Andrews will upgrade the WJEC results only in Wales whereas someone sitting under the same body in England will be required to keep the grade - what a shambles. Limestonecowboy
  • Score: 0

9:52pm Mon 17 Sep 12

PontyPeter says...

Leighton Andrews is rapidly demonstrating that he hasn't a clue when it comes to education policy.
Regrading the Welsh GCSE results in English Language was a big mistake. He has made a fool of himself and with that, the exam system in Wales.
His next move will be to further remove the Welsh system from the English. This is bad news for our students who have to compete with the English for jobs and university places.
What a shambles this man is creating.
Get rid of him. Quickly, please.
Leighton Andrews is rapidly demonstrating that he hasn't a clue when it comes to education policy. Regrading the Welsh GCSE results in English Language was a big mistake. He has made a fool of himself and with that, the exam system in Wales. His next move will be to further remove the Welsh system from the English. This is bad news for our students who have to compete with the English for jobs and university places. What a shambles this man is creating. Get rid of him. Quickly, please. PontyPeter
  • Score: 0

11:58pm Mon 17 Sep 12

PaulHalliday says...

I don't agree with Layton Andrews. But I disagree with the fact that having a different qualification to english students. Scotland has seperate qualifications and it doesn't cause any problems.
I don't agree with Layton Andrews. But I disagree with the fact that having a different qualification to english students. Scotland has seperate qualifications and it doesn't cause any problems. PaulHalliday
  • Score: 0

8:37am Tue 18 Sep 12

Cymru Am Beth says...

Ian Perry wrote:
For the sake of the kids, who may one day want to live, study and/or work outside of Wales, Wales has to adopt the EBACC. The fact it's called the EBACC and not the UKBACC or BBACC might cause some problems for some and the name may need review, but this appears to be a positive step forward. I've little confidence in Leighton Andrews...
Quite right.
It is going to be very difficult to get institututions/emplo
yers to accept a different qualification unless it can be proved to be on a par with the proposed EBACC.
[quote][p][bold]Ian Perry[/bold] wrote: For the sake of the kids, who may one day want to live, study and/or work outside of Wales, Wales has to adopt the EBACC. The fact it's called the EBACC and not the UKBACC or BBACC might cause some problems for some and the name may need review, but this appears to be a positive step forward. I've little confidence in Leighton Andrews...[/p][/quote]Quite right. It is going to be very difficult to get institututions/emplo yers to accept a different qualification unless it can be proved to be on a par with the proposed EBACC. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 0

8:41am Tue 18 Sep 12

Cymru Am Beth says...

PontyPeter wrote:
Leighton Andrews is rapidly demonstrating that he hasn't a clue when it comes to education policy. Regrading the Welsh GCSE results in English Language was a big mistake. He has made a fool of himself and with that, the exam system in Wales. His next move will be to further remove the Welsh system from the English. This is bad news for our students who have to compete with the English for jobs and university places. What a shambles this man is creating. Get rid of him. Quickly, please.
Well said.
This could end in a total fiasco for Wales.
The Assembly must get this right for the sake of all the students in Wales.
[quote][p][bold]PontyPeter[/bold] wrote: Leighton Andrews is rapidly demonstrating that he hasn't a clue when it comes to education policy. Regrading the Welsh GCSE results in English Language was a big mistake. He has made a fool of himself and with that, the exam system in Wales. His next move will be to further remove the Welsh system from the English. This is bad news for our students who have to compete with the English for jobs and university places. What a shambles this man is creating. Get rid of him. Quickly, please.[/p][/quote]Well said. This could end in a total fiasco for Wales. The Assembly must get this right for the sake of all the students in Wales. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 0

8:47am Tue 18 Sep 12

Cymru Am Beth says...

I think, in view of the announcement by the government, of the EBACC, Wales will have to develop something along these lines.
We went some way to achieving this with the WBACC.
I can't see what is wrong with improving standards.
If we in Wales chose to go down the easier route, we will be punished by non-acceptance of our qualifications by Institutions outside our borders.
I think, in view of the announcement by the government, of the EBACC, Wales will have to develop something along these lines. We went some way to achieving this with the WBACC. I can't see what is wrong with improving standards. If we in Wales chose to go down the easier route, we will be punished by non-acceptance of our qualifications by Institutions outside our borders. Cymru Am Beth
  • Score: 0

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