Bedales in School House Magazine

Academic & Curriculum, Bedales Senior

Bedales’ innovative approach to education is prominently featured in a new article in School House Magazine (Making the switch, Sally Jones, Spring/Summer 2024) about the growing number of schools offering alternatives to GCSEs. 
Observing the recent introduction of alternative assessments at King’s High School, Warwick, the article notes that Bedales “pioneered” the approach nearly 20 years ago. Bedales replaced many GCSEs with Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs) in 2006. Despite criticism from traditionalists, the approach has proved popular with parents, students and schools, and last year Bedales announced plans to extend its BAC offer. Students will take two GCSEs in Maths and English, alongside eight BACs in both traditional and unique subjects. In contrast with GCSEs, BACs are assessed via a mixture of coursework, vivas, exams, project work and teamwork, with results moderated by external examiners.
Will Goldsmith – who helped to prepare Latymer Upper for their move away from GCSEs when he was Director of Teaching and Learning there – makes the case for the move away from GCSEs by pointing to the amount of time spent preparing for them. Totalling the hours spent revising and sitting exams as the equivalent of two terms, he argues that such time should be limited as it negatively affects teaching and creates unnecessary pressure for students. Will also addresses the role of GCSE results in university admissions, arguing that candidates should be selected for university after their A Level results to minimise the ‘high stakes’ nature of GCSEs.
The article also includes insight from former Bedales Director of Learning & Innovation Al McConville, who is a leader of Rethinking Assessment, a consortium of educators, employers, researchers and policy makers working to reform the current high stakes public exam system that has a “stranglehold” on education.

Read the article here, shared with permission from School House Magazine.