“GCSEs are turning pupils off”

Academic & Curriculum, Bedales Senior

In an article on the dramatic fall in studying English Literature by school pupils in England, the Sunday Express reports on Bedales’ approach in bucking this trend by replacing GCSEs with its own courses.

Head of Bedales Will Goldsmith describes how the current GCSE curriculum is “killing children’s love of literature” because of a narrow curriculum and assessment guidelines restricting what is taught. 

Bedales Year 11 students take roughly half GCSE courses choosing the remainder from a menu of 14 Bedales Assessed Courses, including Digital Game Design, Global Awareness, Art, Design Music as well as English Literature. The School has recently announced it will further reduce the number of GCSEs students take to just Maths and English Language, with all other courses being the School’s own designed and assessed curriculum, with external moderation. It is doing this to prepare students better for A Level and beyond, to claw back unnecessary time spent preparing for GCSE mocks and end of course exams, as well as introducing a much broader curriculum and range of assessment to reflect 21st century approaches to teaching and learning and the skills needed for further study and work. 

The article was based on a presentation Will Goldsmith gave at a conference at Downe House School where he described the pendulum swings in education history and how he feels the country has reached a critical point where the education system is failing to serve school pupils and wider society, in particular with the GCSE curriculum and assessment. He suggested that the independent sector is demonstrating the alternatives that are possible due to the greater freedoms they are able to exercise for the benefit of the whole education system and all young people. 

The full article can be read here.