Education & Family

Hunt wants cross-party exam consensus

Tristram Hunt Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tristram Hunt will call for a long-term agreement on the exam system needed by the economy

Labour's Tristram Hunt is calling for a cross-party review to work on long-term changes to England's exams and curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds.

The shadow education secretary wants the GCSE system updated to include academic and vocational subjects.

In a motion in the House of Commons, he will call for a "new political consensus" on education policy.

"We have a long-standing mismatch between the education system and the labour market," says Mr Hunt.

Mr Hunt is understood to want a more "constructive" approach to opposition after Labour's general election defeat.

'Nothing off the table'

The motion in the House of Commons will emphasise the common goals of wanting to improve education to drive economic growth and calls on the government to create a cross-party review "to cover exams, educational institutions and curriculum".

Mr Hunt wants to build a political consensus on moving away from the current GCSE system, which he argues needs to be overhauled when the leaving age has risen to 18 and these are no longer the final school-leaving exams.

The shadow education secretary wants a broader baccalaureate system incorporating both vocational and academic exams.

But such a change would need to be introduced over a longer period than the next Parliament - and Mr Hunt's move is an attempt to "begin a conversation".

Mr Hunt says that the exams system is no longer delivering the skills needed for the labour market.

"We need a new political consensus to put it right. That is why I am calling on the government to initiate a cross-party review of 14-19 education in this country.

"We should leave nothing off the table. Our only goal should be establishing consensus on the changes needed in our 14-19 education system to secure for our country the long-term economic growth and productivity that we need to succeed."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicky Morgan has announced a tougher grading system for GCSEs

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan promised during the election campaign there would be no more "constant upheaval or constant change" in the next five years.

The major changes to the exam system and curriculum, announced in the previous coalition government, will be implemented during the next Parliament.

These include phasing in a more "rigorous" set of GCSEs and A-levels, with less coursework and modules and a greater emphasis on exams at the end of two years.

On Tuesday, the education secretary announced that the revised grading system for GCSEs would have a tougher pass mark than at present.

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