A Requiem for GCSE Coursework

A requiem for GCSE coursework

Is the current situation a compelling argument for bringing back controlled assessments or a heavy focus on GCSE coursework? Had we been told at the start of the 2019-20 academic year that centre-assessed grades would usurp exams then this would generally have been seen as an unexpected boon. Not the omnishambles that Ofqual et al contrived to turn it into.  Oh, the twists of fate!

Of course, shifting the goalposts halfway through is rarely a good idea and, in fairness to all involved, the complications engendered by COVID-19 are no sane person’s idea of a bright idea. Under unprecedented circumstances, there is no universally fair way of awarding grades and the objective of the last few months has been making the best of a bad situation; this objective might not always have been met but, with hazy success criteria, the odds of achieving an A* were stacked against pretty much everybody.

Had we known what was coming, we probably would have doubled-down on data. Oh, the twists of fate! That most hated marker of success – the one that typically ignores wellbeing and a holistic view of pupils – turning into a saviour! If we’re required to rank and assess pupils then concrete evidence on which to base those judgements is required. As Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, pointed out, mocks are insufficient because “the clue is in the name ‘mock’” – they don’t conform to the same standards and sometimes serve very different means.

Wouldn’t it have been a godsend to have been able to draw on a set of regulated marks that related to standardised tasks. Here’s a bit of blue sky thinking but… what if there existed such a thing as modules and GCSE coursework which meant that all pupils and teachers had a secure guide to the progress being made throughout a qualification and weren’t reliant on a one-off winner-takes-all exam? Oh, the twists of fate!

Read our previous post on the exam fiasco of 2020 here.

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