As thousands of teenagers across England and Wales receive their GCSE results this week, let’s be careful not to rain on their parade.
Everyone who criticises exam standards, makes light of particular subjects, calls for GCSEs to be scrapped altogether, or suggests that there are too many examination boards, is creating a subtext that, intended or not, says to young people ‘your GCSEs aren’t important’. Sadly, there’s been far too much of that recently.
We all want our exam system to be as effective as possible. I do not, however, believe it to be helpful to question – and thereby devalue – the GCSE so publicly, as some have done, just as two years’ of hard work is about to reach a culmination for so many young people.
First we had the head of the CBI calling for GCSEs to be scrapped in favour of work experience and less emphasis on results. Then scientists at King’s College London told us that up to 65 per cent of the difference in pupil’s GCSEs grades is down to genetics; imagine all those teenagers nervously chewing on their fingernails as they take a good look at mum and dad.