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Michael Gove to unveil new-look GCSEs

CHANGES: Michael Gove (PA)

THE DEPARTMENT for Education is to announce today its formal changes to the way schoolchildren across the country attain their GCSE exams.

Education secretary Michael Gove will scrap the A* to G grading system, replacing it with a numerical scale of eight to one.

In 2015, assessment will move away from coursework and instead pupils will all take exams after two years of studying – modular courses are to be abandoned.

Much of the changes, according to the DfE, are designed to make the exams more rigorous and challenging; moves that some view as the Government aiming to revert the exams to a more O-level format.

Criticism has been levelled at the DfE for not consulting widely enough on the new plans – the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the Government had overlooked their input.

Much of the changes are focussed on core subjects of English, maths, the sciences, history and geography – an emphasis will be placed on students writing essay style exam answers rather than multiple choice or other formats.

Pupils also will be required to read whole books for English literature, instead of passages to answer questions on.

In Maths, Gove wants independent problem solving questions to be posed, rather than a set-up where pupils are already well rehearsed in what type of equations they will tackle.

The changes will seek to address the problem of teachers spoon-feeding their pupils answers in preparation so there are no challenging questions that demand original thinking during exams.

Gove will announce the changes at 12.30pm.

“We are taking steps with the existing exams to make them as good as possible”, education minister Elizabeth Truss said.

“But we do need to start competing against those top performing countries in the world because for too long we've pretended that students results are getting better when all that's been happening is the exams have been getting easier and it's been a race to the bottom between the exam boards and we need to stop that happening now."

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