In the wake of the announcement that GCSEs are to be replaced with the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), an expert has claimed that it is the ability of those in teaching jobs and not the examination system that is key to the overall quality of education.
Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education in London, told the Guardian that exams only have the potential "to provide structures that encourage improved teaching and learning".
"What improves education is improving teaching and learning," he explained.
Education secretary Michael Gove has repeatedly stated that GCSEs make it too easy for students to achieve the top grades.
In order to address this, the changes will see the removal of the GSCE model of modular assessment and coursework, and their replacement with a more "rigorous" EBacc qualification involving a lengthy final test.
While Gove's proposals revolve around the idea that "rigour" must be restored to the examination system, he has given no specific definition of what exactly this implies - something which Mr Husbands sees as an issue.
"It's … really important that we are clear about what 'rigour' means," he cautioned.
Rather than simply making it harder for children to achieve 'A' grades, he said that the focus should be on preparing children for life after school.
"Rigour means assessing children and young people on the basis of the knowledge, skills and understanding that are going to prepare them for adult life," he explained.
Andrew Old, a secondary teacher and blogger who also spoke to the paper, agrees that teachers must impart knowledge which has a value that lasts beyond exams.
"Grade inflation, dumbed-down exams and coursework have enabled many people to build a career, particularly in senior management, by playing the game, without doing anything of genuine educational value," he said.
The new EBaccs in English, maths and science are due to commence in 2015.
Posted by Harriet McGowan