Union urges measured decision on exam future
A TEACHING union rep has welcomed the Welsh Government's no-rush approach to changes to GSCEs following the end of the exams in England.
Roberto De Benedictis, divisional secretary of the Tawe Afan Nedd branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and elected member of the General Teaching Council said Education Secretary Michael Gove's plans devalued the qualification.
Yesterday Mr Gove announced GCSEs would be scrapped and replaced with an English Baccalaureate Certificate — meaning England and Wales are likely to have separate examination systems in the future.
However, the Welsh Government says it is in no rush to announce any changes to exams.
It is currently undertaking a review into GCSEs.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "As always, our priority will be to ensure that the best interests of our learners are the focus of any decisions that we take. In Wales we are taking an evidence based approach through our review of 14 to 19 qualifications.
"This is a decision that cannot be rushed and Welsh Ministers are committed to avoiding significant changes to GCSEs until after the outcomes of the Review are known at the end of November."
Mr De Benedictis said he welcomed the Welsh Government and Welsh Education Minister's approach to taking time to evaluate GCSEs.
He said: "My view is that if you are looking at the future of children and devaluing what they have already done, it's got to be done properly and not as a knee- jerk reaction. And it must be done with proper consultation and with partners involved in education.
"As far as we are concerned it (the changes in England) has been rushed through to play politics with our children's lives. As far as I am concerned it's immoral.
"It devalues a qualification children have worked hard for in previous years and it becomes something employers don't understand and children will find themselves demoralised and demotivated.
"A long-term plan needs to be looked at by somebody in state education, somebody who has been challenged by that."
The "English Bac" as it has been labelled will mean a single end-of-course exam and one exam board for each subject. Pupils beginning secondary school this year in England will take the first new exams — in English, maths and sciences — in 2017.
Meanwhile, in response to the changes on the other side of the Severn Bridge Plaid Cymru has challenged the Welsh Government and the Minister for Education to protect what is best about GCSEs as it reviews the exam structure in Wales.
AM Simon Thomas, Plaid's education spokesman, said: "I want to see standard qualifications introduced across the nation so that Welsh students can have their abilities measured through an unified, standardised and above all, fair system. The announcement by the UK Government means that Wales will soon need to establish a separate exam system, and it is vital that this system is fair and transparent."