Pupils to face tougher GCSE exams

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YOUNGSTERS across Sunderland and County Durham will be facing tougher exams due to the latest shake up in GCSEs.

The new-look exams were unveiled yesterday, with tests being graded from eight to one rather than A* to G.

From 2015, GCSEs will move to exams at the end of two years rather than coursework assessment and will face more rigorous content, with those studying English, for example, having to read a 19th-century novel and a whole Shakespeare play.

Coun Robert Oliver, Tory spokesman for education in Sunderland, said: “Many of the proposed changes are welcome. Controlled assessment has proven difficult to administer fairly and multiple re-sits have put the system under strain.

“Overall, while a more rigorous system is welcome, we must ensure that rigour for one pupil does not become disengagement for another.

“Reading more challenging texts for English, for example, will benefit some pupils, but it must be done in a way that brings in rather than excludes all talents.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Children and Families, said: “While young people are gearing up to start their final exams, Michael Gove is once again creating uncertainty and painting the qualifications they have worked for as inferior.

“Ditching coursework pro-jects and focussing on regurgitating facts in one final exam will not help young people to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, or even today.

“Yet again, Gove wants us to go back to the past, and this is his third attempt. EBacc certificates and a return to O-levels have already fallen by the wayside, and he will fail again if he fails to produce a comprehensive and researched plan to improve outcomes for all children.”

Sarah Lake, NUT representative on Wearside, said: “Sunderland students have been highly successful at GCSEs, enjoying increasingly impressive grades over recent years. It concerns me if the current system is to be abandoned and a new regime of tesing is introduced without proper consideration.

“The Government seems to be continually ignoring evidence from the rest of the world. Finland consistently scores highly and it’s teaching system is based on a large amount of student assessment at classsroom level.”