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Headteachers blast 'disruptive' Government exam changes
TWO leading headteachers have accused 'meddling' Government Ministers of causing constant disruption with changes to exams.
Next year's A Levels will cease having modular exams in January, while a raft of changes are slated for GCSEs, starting in 2015.
Nine core GCSE subjects including English language and literature, maths, physics and chemistry,will be graded numerically rather than the current letter system.
Full exams in the summer, at the end of two years of study, will replace modular courses. Coursework done under exam conditions will be scrapped and exams will be based on a more stretching, essay-based system. The pass mark is to be pushed higher.
Dr Peter Holding, headmaster at Sir William Borlase's Grammar School in West Street, Marlow, said it has not yet become clear how the changes will work.
Asked how difficult it is for teachers, he said: "It's endlessly disruptive just about every year there's been major changes to one of the exams or another and that is very challenging.
"I think constant change is always disruptive. Every government has talked about trying to look at it to try and improve it and we'll have to wait to see what comes."
Geralyn Wilson, headteacher at Great Marlow School in Bobmore Lane, agreed, saying: "It is disruptive. It's very difficult for teachers and students to maintain a steady rate of progress with the changes that have been brought in, often without suitable or appropriate levels of consultation, even without the back up of great research.
"I think teachers are extraordinarily creative and very determined that they will always keep up with the requirements from the Department for Education even when they seem to be excessive and extreme, and unnecessary meddling."
She said the changes were also unnecessarily frequent.
She said: "It's distracting and disruptive constantly making changes that often impact directly on what's happening in classes in terms of learning.
"It's about time we had the chance to settle things and to move without too many distractions and disruptions to education."
The Department for Education said in a statement:"We are reforming exams to make them more rigorous and ensure they match those in the world’s best-performing education systems.
"The GCSE system had serious weaknesses and there was an urgent need to tackle grade inflation. We are restoring confidence in the qualifications by ending most coursework, and scrapping the modular approach which led to last year's grading problems.
"We are involving our top universities in developing new A-levels to ensure young people are better prepared for work and higher education.
"Linear A levels will end the constant treadmill of exams and ensure pupils develop a real understanding of a subject, while new AS levels will be demanding and will give students the opportunity to take a smaller qualification for additional breadth."
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