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Clegg: Exam reforms not a return to two-tier system

17/09/2012 Joanna
Today is a significant one for those in secondary teacher roles across England, after the coalition revealed details of its reforms for the examination system.

Despite education secretary Michael Gove's desire to return to a two-tier, O-level-style qualification, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg insisted that the new system will "cover the vast majority of children in this country".

Mr Clegg told reporters that the reforms would do "three simple things": give parents confidence in the system; raise standards for all children; and not exclude any pupils.

"I've always been against [the two-tier system]," the deputy prime minister said. "The new system, just like the existing GCSE system, will be single tier."

Writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Clegg and Mr Gove revealed that the new qualifications are to be called English Baccalaureate Certificates, or EBacc for short.

Successfully completing certificates in English, maths, science, a humanities subject and a language will comprise the full English Baccalaureate qualification.

However, the duo admitted that some struggling students would not be able to secure EBacc certificates at the age of 17 or 18.

Other radical changes - which the pair recognise will require "wide consultation" - will see modular exams and coursework scrapped, and a single exam board moderating each subject.

As a result of this consultation period, the English, maths and science certificates will not be introduced until September 2015, with other subjects following.

Although the need for reform has been broadly acknowledged after the fiasco of this summer's GCSE results, what is worrying for those in teaching jobs is the prospect that the new system could potentially be scrapped by Labour, should it win re-election.

This possibility was underscored when Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, said: "These changes are … totally out of date, from a Tory-led government totally out of touch with modern Britain."

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