Education Secretary Michael Gove is to scrap his proposals to replace some GCSE exams with a new English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC).
Gove’s initiative was the inevitable result of his “back to basics” approach to education; seeking a reputation as a reformer (and the support of the Tory right wing) he has hit the education sector repeatedly — undermining terms and conditions, reducing pensions and introducing the divisive and discriminatory Academy Phase Two programme.
This humiliating change in policy is doubly ironic.
Firstly, the majority of the critical committee were Conservative MPs.
However, the National Union of Teachers was notable in its haste to send celebratory material to school reps, announcing victory. Powerful words from a union which has just decided to delay strike action until the summer term, against the express wishes of rank-and-file membership.
This is a success story, but a limited one; a flawed system was to be replaced by a considerably more flawed system which will now be replaced by a slightly revamped version of the original flawed system.
The examination system is the product of industrial capitalism, designed to make it easier to decide who gets to work lifting heavy things and who gets the office manager’s desk. It has nothing to do with learning or personal development. It’s an anachronism and, like huge class sizes and underfunding, helps turn education into an assembly line.
Losing the EBC is a victory; replacing it with a “new GCSE” takes us back to where we started.