Scrap GCSEs and focus on essential skills, chair of education committee says

February 11, 2019

The MP who leads the education select committee has said GCSEs should be scrapped.

Robert Halfon wants to replace them with a baccalaureate, taken at 18, that offers more access to vocation-based technical and creative skills, alongside traditional academic learning.

The Conservative MP for Harlow will use a speech to education professionals at the Cabinet War Rooms in London to say England's education system needs a radical overhaul.

He is expected to say: "I fully support the need for every young person to be able to access through their schooling, a working knowledge of our cultural capital, our history and our literature.

"But it is also essential that we are developing our next generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and designers.

"All young people should have access to the technical and creative subjects that will give them the skills that employers are looking for.

"These are not 'soft skills' developed at the expense of knowledge, but the essential skills that will enable young people to interpret, manipulate and communicate that knowledge.

"We must move from knowledge-rich to knowledge-engaged."

A Department for Education spokesman defended the value of GCSEs and said so-called "T-levels" - which come in next year and are equivalent to three A-levels - would improve the technical and vocational qualifications on offer.

"GSCEs are the gold standard qualification at age 16 and a passport to further study and employability," said the spokesman.

"They were recently reformed so that their demand matches that in other high-performing countries and better prepare students for work and further study.

"We are also taking forward reforms from the Independent Panel on Technical Education to give students a clear choice between an academic or technical path at aged 16. T-levels, alongside apprenticeships, will form the basis of our high-quality technical education offer."

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