GCSEs: Secondary school students welcome exam 'U-turn'

Emilie and Ben are pleased with the decision

Students and teachers have welcomed Michael Gove's decision to reverse the plan to scrap GCSEs in key subjects.

BBC School Reporters from Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove and Highcrest Academy in High Wycombe and the head teacher of St Joseph's Catholic College in Bradford said sticking with GCSEs made a lot of sense to them.

Emilie, Cardinal Newman Catholic School:

I think it was a good decision because it [the English Baccalaureate] was really going back into the past times. There are so many good musicians, artists and creative people and just having the core subjects, languages and history would stop those people from doing what they really want.

But the changes that have been announced today have really confused me because we were told we were the last year to do GCSEs, but we were still meant to be doing a test at the end of Year 11.

Now some of the changes have been made, new changes have been made and then they have scrapped some ideas, so the whole thing is really quite baffling.

It means that making a decision which is quite important about our options has been made even more difficult than it already was.

Another point which makes me believe Michael Gove's original decision was bad is that when the change to GCSEs happened in the 1980s, it was because people were being "written off" at the age of 14.

It was very narrow-minded, and the fact that they wanted to change it back to that seems ludicrous.

Ben, Cardinal Newman Catholic School:

I think the changes that have been announced today by Michael Gove are the right decision as I thought the Ebacc was a bad idea.

It was limiting people's subjects, what they were able to do and what they were talented at.

It's confused me though because I didn't know if we were going to do GCSEs at the end of Year 11 or if we were going to do an Ebaac - so it has confused us with our options of what subjects to pick.

I think Mr Gove didn't really have much of a reason to change it because GCSEs were a good idea and they were an easy, understandable way of getting your exams.

The Ebacc doesn't make as much sense as GCSEs and it's harder to understand.

Charlotte, Highcrest Academy

I'm glad that the GCSEs aren't getting changed because the other way would be a lot harder.

They're saying GCSEs are too easy at the moment, but they're really not, you have to study really hard to do well.

Highcrest Academy student Charlotte: "I'm glad that the GCSEs aren't getting changed"

You have loads of homework at home, it's not just about school. I stay every night for revision and catching up or re-doing coursework, to make sure I get the best possible grade.

Without the teachers' help you wouldn't be able to do what you do. If they didn't stay after school with you we wouldn't be doing as well as we are at the moment. GCSEs are very hard.

Meghan, Highcrest Academy

I think that it's good that they haven't changed because my mum was the last year before GCSEs and she didn't pass, but she thought she could have if it was GCSEs.

Mr O'Donnell, head teacher of St Josephs Catholic College speaking to School Reporters Matilda, Alana, Hope and Holly

I am glad that Mr Gove listened to the report from the education select committee last week where they recommended that they shouldn't continue with it.

At the moment we've had a review of the secondary national curriculum and that hasn't been finished yet, so how can we start testing something that we don't know we are going to teach?

Baccalaureate-covered subjects have recently been included in the English Baccalaureate anyway and every subject is important at GCSE level.

Some are important to help students to develop and to move on to the next stage, but we wouldn't want to devalue all the other subjects.

It is good to have a balance of different subjects and it is important to have what we call a broad and balanced curriculum.

A Bradford head teacher says it was a good decision not to scrap GCSEs.

To make changes to the GCSEs we would have to find out what the view is from all the people involved - people in schools, those who manage the exams and very importantly the employers who will be offering jobs to students when they leave school or university.

They have to understand what the problems are if they exist and what can be done to tackle them in the future.

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