It’s been a week since we released our consultation on the reform of remaining subjects at GCSE and A level.
Commentary on social media and in the news suggests that many still believe we want to ‘scrap’ qualifications in the arts; and design and technology. But this couldn't be more wrong. There’s a host of creative subjects on the list to be reformed at GCSE and A level, and rightly so.
However, we do want to reduce the number of qualifications based on the same subject or with content that overlaps significantly with others. This can be confusing for one and all, and it makes standards difficult to maintain.
Looking at the qualifications still to be reformed, we can see that some are unlikely to meet the principles that we propose they should, and others are very similar or overlap with subjects that are already being reformed. Where this is the case, we propose to discontinue the qualification.
In the arts there are a couple of little used GCSEs, one entitled 'Performing Arts' and the other entitled 'Expressive Arts', both of which overlap to a large extent with other more popular GCSEs. It is these subjects that are listed in our consultation document for possible withdrawal, in each case with the most closely related continuing GCSEs (drama and dance) clearly identified.
Similarly at AS and A level, 'Performing Arts' and 'Performance Studies' have about 1000 entries each and overlap heavily with drama and to some extent with dance.
We have also seen some comments about engineering qualifications at GCSE and A level, both in support of and against our proposal that they should be discontinued. However, the content of these qualifications overlap significantly with design and technology, maths and physics qualifications that are being reformed. Students interested in an engineering career may be better served by concentrating on those core academic qualifications, or by looking at the range of available vocational qualifications.
The same also applies for home economics, which has been discussed at length in the news. Although we propose that the qualification is discontinued, the overlapping subject of food technology will remain and be reformed.
So, while we are proposing that some qualifications are discontinued, we are by no means trying to remove creative subjects as an option to study, or restrict career paths in any way. There will instead be greater clarity about what is on offer and improved comparability across qualifications. Also, where there is a strong case for a qualification to remain, where they do in fact serve a purpose, we will consider those arguments.
These are just proposals at this stage, and we’re consulting so we can find out what you think. Our proposals aim to bring the remaining subjects into line with those already being reformed, looking at how content should be reviewed and what standards we expect.
I’ve witnessed the conversations taking place and can see that there’s a wealth of opinion out there. I hope that those people discussing our proposals will take part in the consultation and have their say.