Teachers’ unions reacted with dismay today as the Midland Examining Group announced that, for GCSE courses starting from September 2018, it will begin offering a new qualification in ‘Test theory and Examination technique’ with the first exams to be set in summer 2020. ‘We see this as the culmination of a drive by successive governments towards examination over education,’ stated Maureen Tropper, outraged spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers. Other teaching unions and some headteachers have also expressed their disappointment at the plan.
Parents we spoke to were divided about the change, with one mother of three from St Neots telling us ‘my kids spend so much of their school time learning to take exams these days, it’s only fair that they should have something to show for their efforts at the end.’ Others, however, were less convinced. Simon Farron, for example, collecting his year 6 twins from their school in March was scathing about the plan. ‘What will they test next? Walking to school? Advanced Tweeting?’
Cambridge-based MEG has been quick to defend the new exam, describing it as essential that GCSE subjects keep pace with modern life and teaching practices. ‘Many of the country’s most successful schools devote a significant portion of their curriculum to exam preparation’ confirmed Eva Newell for the MEG. ‘We fully expect that this will become a compulsory subject in many top performing schools and anticipate other Examination Boards offering the GCSE and possibly even A-Level in the future.’
Testing of the new subject will include a theoretical exam in ‘Examination practice’ and a practical exam in ‘Examination theory’, although Ms Newell expected that 90% of the final grade would be based on course-work.