GCSEs should be scrapped, says Future Generations Commissioner

As reported by the BBC, Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner, told BBC Sunday Politics Wales that GCSEs are no longer fit for purpose

Howe suggested that GCSEs should be scrapped for more skills-bases assessments that are less focused on testing.

Qualifications Wales said GCSEs would have to change in order to target wider skills needed for the future.

It is launching a consultation in November as part of its review on GCSEs and qualifications in light of the new curriculum, which will be taught from 2022, replacing traditional subjects with six “areas of learning and experience”.

Howe said the current model of examination system “basically tests a child’s worth on the basis of the amount of knowledge that they can regurgitate in a two-hour exam”.

“[This] is not based on skills that all of the international evidence tells us will be needed in the future.

“Basically, the things that robots can’t do, or artificial intelligence can’t do – emotional intelligence, empathy, cooperation, teamwork, critical thinking.”

She said the examination system was also at odds with the aims of the new 2022 curriculum, which is geared to getting pupils those skills.

“It focuses on silos, focuses on regurgitated knowledge and that’s not fit for the future.”

Howe has produced a report, Education Fit for the Future: A White Paper, with possible ideas for replacements.

It has suggested “narrative-based assessment that tells employers exactly what learners are all about”.

Howe recommended replacements could be “more teacher-based assessment, assessment based on presentational skills, and skills in terms of interaction and teamwork”.

Qualifications Wales is launching a consultation in November as part of its review on GCSEs and qualifications in light of the new curriculum.

They are due to confirm changes next year, with teaching for new qualifications to begin in September 2025.

Welcoming the report, Philip Blaker, from Qualifications Wales, said: “Qualifications will have to change if they are going to fulfil the ambition of the new curriculum and meet the evolving needs of learners and society.

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“We believe there’s still a strong case for 16-year-olds to continue to take qualifications that help to prepare and inspire them for life, learning and work.

“We’ll be looking at how qualifications could be designed and assessed differently in future, and asking whether we should keep the GCSE name.”

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