Gove: ''Schools should raise GCSE bar''
15 June 2011
The Education Secretary Michael Gove has said that he wants to tackle the 'low-expectations culture' by making GCSE exam targets tougher for the worst-performing schools. And he will do this by turning the current national average school performance into a minimum requirement.
Gove said that secondary schools that don't achieve the national average by 2015 of at least 50 per cent of pupils getting five A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, will be deemed to be underperforming and could be taken over.
Previously, schools were only considered to be underperforming if they didn't reach a 35 per cent target. However, the transition will be gradual, with a 40 per cent target set for post-2012.
Insisting that Whitehall should not be involved in driving school improvements, the Education Secretary set out the government's main goals. These include self-governing schools and making it easy to start a new school, increasing the level of qualifications that teachers need and improving their pay, and making it easier to get rid of underperforming teachers. Gove also wants to improved curriculums and increase the use of technology in schools, introduce a more transparent funding system for schools, and put a more focused Ofsted inspection team in place. The coalition also wants to change planning and building regulations so more schools can be built or refurbished.
• At the same time, pupils at comprehensive schools in England are not being given the best chance to get into top universities by being encouraged to take 'soft' A-level subjects to make school figures look good, the Tory MP Elizabeth Truss has said.
Calling for an A-level Baccalaureate, Truss looked at the A-level subjects that universities such as Oxford and Cambridge valued most highly and while 32 per cent of grammar school pupils and 31 per cent at independent schools studied these subjects in 2010, just 15 per cent of comprehensive school pupils and 11 per cent at sixth-form colleges did. And while maths A-Level was taken by 21 per cent of these pupils, nearly 40 per cent of pupils at private and grammar schools studied for the qualification. A-level physics had similar ratios, with well under 10 per cent of pupils at comprehensives and sixth-form colleges taking the subject but 17 per cent of their private and grammar school peers doing so.
"Students are being mis-sold low-quality subjects that are not accepted at top universities to boost school and local authorities' results," Truss said. "It is time Ofqual put an end to the myth that mathematics and media studies are 'equivalent'."
But a spokesperson for Ofqual said: "Ofqual makes sure that A-levels in all subjects are challenging and rigorous qualifications that assess the relevant knowledge required for that specific subject."