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Written evidence submitted by the DfE : the evidence base for proposed reform of the examination system at Key Stage 4

Publisher
Department for Education
Publication Date
Disciplines
  • Education
  • Mathematics

Abstract

Memorandum to the Education Select Committee Home Education 12.7.12 Written evidence submitted by the DfE The Evidence Base for Proposed Reform of the Examination System at Key Stage 4 November 2012 1. SUMMARY 1.1. The Committee has requested the evidence base used in drawing up proposals for reform of the examination system at Key Stage 4. To inform their decisions on these proposals, Ministers have drawn on evidence in the following areas:  The importance of a core academic curriculum;  Problems in the existing system;  Stagnating standards over time;  The failure of the current system to support lower attaining pupils. 1.2. High performing jurisdictions often set a compulsory academic core whilst allowing schools the local freedom to implement it in the way they see fit. In particular, the subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate measure in the Key Stage 4 performance tables in England - English, mathematics, the sciences, history, geography, and languages – are compulsory in many high performing jurisdictions until age 16. As outlined in section 2, the introduction of this measure in the performance tables has had a positive effect on take up of core academic subjects in England. We now need to ensure that qualifications in these subjects are providing students with the level of knowledge and skills expected in our highest performing international competitors. 1.3. The structure of the existing qualifications market in England allows several Awarding Organisations (AOs), once recognised by Ofqual, to compete for market share. This oligopoly has created incentives for Awarding Organisations to drive down standards in order to win business from schools. The risks this poses to the education system were made clear in April 2012 when Ofqual reported on Awarding Organisation led seminars. Ofqual concluded that seminars concentrating on specific qualifications gave rise to a real risk that inappropriate i

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