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Should we abolish GCSEs?

Gill Wyness ()
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Gill Wyness: UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, University College London

No 14, CEPEO Briefing Note Series from Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, UCL Institute of Education

Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting disruption to schooling led to the Government cancelling GCSE and A level exams in 2020 and 2021, with 2022's exams also likely to be disrupted. The cancellation of GCSEs, in particular, has renewed debate around the value of high-stakes testing, and prompted some politicians, practitioners and commentators to call for their permanent abolition. The main objections to GCSE exams typically centre around two issues: 1) that high-stakes testing of this nature leads to narrowing of the curriculum with teachers having to "teach to the test" rather than provide a holistic learning experience, and 2) that high-stakes testing creates excessive stress for teenagers. Former Prime Minister John Major recently called for the abolition of GCSEs for these reasons, stating that "I have come to dislike these examinations due to the degree of stress and strain they impose upon students. Without the examinations, it would surely be possible to offer pupils a wider syllabus, providing a more rounded education."

Keywords: assessment; age 16; high-stakes testing; examinations; wellbeing; coursework (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 7 pages
Date: 2021-08, Revised 2021-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-isf and nep-ure
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