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Government plans to scrap GCSEs
Nearly thirty years after O-Levels and CSE examinations were scrapped in favour of the new General Certificate for Secondary education, GCSEs are due to be removed from official school league tables.
The government fears that they are now too easy, failing to prepare the 600,000 teenagers that take them each year for sixth form and university.
Last summer, nearly 25% of GCSE papers were graded A* or A, prompting a new round of claims of "grade inflation" since the number of those grades has tripled since the exams were introduced.
Education Secretary Michael Gove sayd: "We've already made GCSE more rigorous. But the evidence that we have heard from parents and our best schools is that we need to consider going further.
"Heads have told us the current league tables push students towards soft subjects and easier exams.
"We want to tackle the culture of competitive dumbing down by making sure exam boards cannot compete on the basis of how easy their exams are."
A twelve-week public consultation will suggest that pupils starting GCSE studies at the start of the upcoming school year will be the last to sit those exams in 2015.
From September 2014, up to 75% of pupils will be studying for new, considerably harder O-levels in English, math and the sciences - now split into separate physics, chemistry and biology courses, as opposed to the standard combined sciences qualification.
It's planned that a single examination board will be setting the O-levels, so pupils throughout the UK will be sitting the same paper.
The other 25% of the pupils will be taking a series of more practical exams in English, mth and science to achieve a "worthwhile qualification".
Teachers' leaders, like union leaders, claim that those 25% will be consigned to a second-class education, which is certain to make them feel second-best, which, at the age of fourteen, may mark the start of a life-long inferiority complex.
Other ramifications could include financial duress for universities that have raised their tuition fees: with harder exams resulting in fewer students with the qualifications for university entrance, fewer places will be filled.