Jenny Brown, head of the highly academic St Albans High School for Girls, said children were forced to sit dozens of exams which they don’t need.
She thinks 4 or 5 would be enough – English, Maths, A Science and a couple more (I’d like to see a foreign language being compulsory).
She admits this will create tension between school,s and pushy parents. She believes “we have to educate and lead parents. It is insane that at the age of 16 we have an eight-week period where (they) have to sit for over eight weeks of exam sessions, something like 24 papers”. At present her pupils take about 10 GCSEs with 90% getting A* or As so she probably has an uphill struggle.
“Education is not a mad qualification grab. Employers are increasingly moving to qualification-blind applications and are assessing and making hiring decisions about qualities of character and mind in an hour-long interview” she added.
The qualities she is talking about that she thinks employers want are: curiosity, adaptability, and being a decent person with integrity. She believes schools have to help pupils develop in these areas. I couldn’t agree more.
She is not alone in these, what appear to me, sensible views. Sir Mike Tomlinson, former chief inspector of schools, called GCSEs a lot of wasted time and recommended only 4 key skills be tested at age 16.
Even President Macron of France is calling for the French baccalaureate to be simplified.
Most countries only test at 18 before university. British children are among the most tested in the world but what good does it do them?