Some schools will be hurt by new GCSEs

ALL CHANGE: Heads say new exams will hit less academically gifted pupils.
ALL CHANGE: Heads say new exams will hit less academically gifted pupils.
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Heads of Spalding’s grammar schools say new-style GCSEs may hurt comprehensive schools and pupils who are less able academically.

High School head Tim Clark is about to switch top jobs from Spalding to a comprehensive in Hackney – and says his old school and its pupils will be better suited to Education Secretary Michael Gove’s 
GCSEs than his new school.

He wants to see more vocational, technical and practical courses included in the curriculum rather than a narrow band of traditional academic subjects that are the normal “diet” of grammar schools.

Mr Clark says he gets angry when people talk of “dumbing down” with the current GCSEs because they are supposed to encourage debate, research and discussion.

Spalding Grammar School head Nigel Ryan said exams should test a range of skills and aptitudes which are relevant not just to education but to employability.

He said: “Being able to remember knowledge and being able to regurgitate it is an important skill, but it’s not the only skill you need in today’s world.

“Our boys are bright boys and they will adapt and our staff will work hard to ensure they do the best they possibly can.”

The new GCSEs will be taught from September 2015 and pupils in the current Year 9 will be the first guinea pigs.

Reforms apply to nine subjects – English language and literature, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, combined science, history and geography.

Government changes announced on Tuesday include:

l Scrapping of modular courses with full exams taken at the end of two years

l Scrapping of course work done under exam conditions

l Exams to be based on a tougher, essay system

l Pass marks to be pushed higher

l Grading to be from 8-1 (with 8 top) rather than A*-G