The authorities won’t be eliminating GCSEs, the schooling secretary has mentioned, regardless of rising calls to reform nationwide assessments on the age of 16.
In an earlier speech, a number one headteacher mentioned the coronavirus pandemic had uncovered the “fragility of our qualification system”, in addition to “its reliance on endless pen-and-paper exams in exam halls”.
“In approach to assessment – which is not dissimilar to that of the 1950s – is this really the best we can do for students in the 2020s?” Richard Sheriff, the Association for School and College Leaders (ASCL) president, requested.
“Isn’t it time to rethink assessment, make more use of technology, and provide children with wider opportunities to show what they can do?”
He mentioned it was not nearly future-proofing exams in case of one other pandemic, however counting on “terminal exams on an industrial scale” now seems “excessive and outdated”.
Mr Williamson instructed the ASCL’s digital convention on Friday: “We are absolutely going to be keeping GCSEs.”
The schooling secretary mentioned it was “really important” to have exams and full evaluation on the age of 16 to assist pupils transition to totally different faculties and colleges.
Last month, the president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) mentioned ministers ought to reform “old-fashioned” GCSEs within the long-term.
Jane Prescott, the Portsmouth High School headteacher, mentioned she was involved concerning the impact of “over-testing on young people’s state of mind” and their engagement with schooling.
Earlier this week, the England examination regulator’s appearing chief mentioned GCSE and A-level exams had been prone to be totally different subsequent yr as a result of disruption to schooling attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.
He mentioned the present “thinking” for 2022 is “about adaptations along the lines that had been originally contemplated” for this yr earlier than exams had been scrapped.
The authorities had initially deliberate for exams in England to go forward this summer season with some adjustments geared toward making grading as truthful as doable amid the disruption, together with marking exams extra generously and giving pupils superior discover of some subjects in checks.
But exams had been cancelled in January for the second yr in a row as colleges as soon as once more moved on-line to most pupils, with outcomes set to be selected teacher-assessed grades as an alternative.
Mr Williamson instructed the ASCL convention on Friday the federal government will likely be “trusting teachers” as an alternative of algorithms this yr, following a controversial grading system that originally downgraded tens of 1000’s of marks in 2020 earlier than college students had been allowed to take authentic estimated grades.
The minister mentioned “changes to the school day and term dates” will likely be thought of by the federal government as a part of long-term measures.
He additionally instructed the convention: “My wife is a teaching assistant and it is always interesting because I obviously get quite a bit of lobbying. You know, our pillow talk is maybe a little bit different.”
He added: “She’s always sort of highlighting various issues where maybe the Department for Education hasn’t always got it perfect all the time and it’s always good to hear it from the frontline.”
Additional reporting by Press Association