17th July 2017
GCSE reforms risk losing 'real substance of education', Ofsted boss says
Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, warns that children’s chances of getting a “broad and balanced education” is at risk
Major reforms to GCSE exams risk losing the "real substance of education" as schools take a results-driven approach to teaching, Ofsted's head has warned.
Chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman expressed concern that the shake-up of grading, coming into effect next month, could deprive pupils of a broad education.
Traditional A*-G grades have been axed and from this year students will see GCSEs in English and maths graded 9-1 – with 9 the highest result. In the next few years, the changes will be brought in for all subjects.
Supporters have argued the move is necessary to allow more differentiation between students. Extending the grading system is expected to make it tougher for pupils to crack into the highest bands.
Ms Spielman told The Sunday Times pressure to succeed under the new regime meant schools were finding it "hard to make sure they put children's interests first and think children, children, children".
"The real substance of education is getting lost in our schools," she added.
An inclination to drill students for exam success could follow, she told the paper, compromising their chance of getting a "broad and balanced education".
She claimed to have seen a class of 11-year-olds being led through the GCSE mark schemes in place of their normal lesson at one school.
Schools were also said to be broadening some courses from two to three years so pupils could be adequately prepared.
Baby boom will lead to 20 per cent more secondary school pupils in ten years, official figures show
A baby boom fuelled by migration will lead to 20 per cent more pupils at secondary schools within ten years, official figures show.
There will be over half a million more secondary-age children by 2026, according to a projection by the Department for Education.
The bulge in student numbers will require the Government to build around 267 average sized secondary schools by 2026, to cope with the rise in demand for places.
The increase is being fuelled by a rising birth rate which has led to growing numbers of pupils making their way through the school system.
The report found that the number of students in state secondary schools is projected to reach over 3.3 million by 2026, which is 19.1 per cent higher than it currently is, an increase of 534,000 more students.
Meanwhile, primary school numbers are projected to be around 100,000 higher in 2026.
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