Is our school system too exam-assessed and not fit for purpose? Do we need to rethink the way we test and assess children?
A new campaign group launched last week, Rethinking Assessment, thinks so. The group is an alliance of educational heavyweights from across the spectrum – state, independent, and higher education – joining forces to campaign for reform of the “beleaguered secondary assessment system”, with GCSEs firmly in their sights. They argue that, our “traditional litany of exams, especially GCSEs, serve no good purpose in the 21st century” and want to work constructively towards alternative solutions to the problem.
School principal David Perks is diametrically opposed to scrapping GCSE exams and argues that they are not only necessary but one of the few things holding our creaking education system together. Author and teacher trainer Alex Standish acknowledges exams are not perfect. but writing in forthcoming Teach Secondary magazine argues that eliminating exams will set us on a slippery slope leaving us in a worse place.
So what do you think, is our school system too obsessed with exams to the detriment of our young people’s intellectual development? Or, for all their potential flaws, are exams the most egalitarian and meritocratic form of student assessment?
principal,East London Science School
Geography teacher trainer and author