Mike Russell attacks England’s tougher new GCSE replacement EBacc exams
SCOTLAND’S education secretary has launched an attack on exam reforms in England, calling them “hastily devised” and not in the best interests of pupils or teachers.
Mike Russell said the decision of his Westminster counterpart, Michael Gove, to scrap GCSEs would lead to an “overly structural and increasingly centralist” system increasingly at odds with what was being achieved under the controversial Curriculum for Excellence north of the Border.
Earlier this week, Mr Gove, who was schooled in Scotland, said GCSEs would be replaced with a new English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which would tackle “grade inflation” by reducing reliance on coursework and bringing back tough end-of-year exams.
Addressing the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow yesterday, Mr Russell said the English approach contrasted with what had been achieved in Scotland since Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) began to be developed nearly ten years ago.
“This creative transformation is, I believe, a marked contrast to the hastily devised, overly structural and increasingly centralist approach proposed elsewhere in these islands,” he said.
Mr Russell said schools in Scotland were right to focus on continual assessment and “rich attainment” rather than a “single snapshot exam”, and he said the country’s General Teaching Council was correct to continue demanding that all teachers are qualified, something that is not required in England.
Responding to questions about Mr Gove’s proposals, he said: “It’s up to others to justify what they are doing. The vast majority of educators in Scotland will say you want to measure rich attainment, you don’t just measure a single snapshot.
“A single exam has a place, but there’s lots more than that. I can’t conceive of a situation where there would be a Scottish consensus around single snapshot exams, just as I can’t conceive of a situation in Scotland where there would be any political consensus to abandon compulsory registration of teachers. It’s never been mentioned by the wildest Tory spokespeople.”
Introducing his proposals in the Commons on Monday, Mr Gove said there was a need to tackle “bite-size learning” and “teaching to the test”, which had helped GCSE pass rate increase every year but one since they were introduced in 1988.
Writing in The Scotsman, Lindsay Paterson, a professor of educational policy at Edinburgh University, said Mr Gove was right to introduce “greater stringency” into coursework, but wrong to consider scrapping it altogether in favour of exams.
“Imperfect though they may be, his reforms are certainly not to be dismissed as divisive, nostalgic or irrelevant to Scotland,” he said.
Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “I think Mike Russell should be very careful in the assumption that things are not working down south and are working up here. There are a lot of questions over CfE and a range of issues to do with school management.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east