Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Monday, 17 September 2012 17:28 UK

GCSEs to be replaced with English Baccalaureate, Gove confirms

GCSEs in England are to be replaced with a new English Baccalaureate Certificate, Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced.

In a Commons statement on 17 September 2012, Mr Gove said the new qualification for 15 to 16-year-olds would be introduced from September 2015 - after the next expected general election.

He told MPs schooling under the new system would culminate in a single exam, with much less emphasis on modular courses and coursework, ensuring that pupils were "tested transparently on what they and they alone can do at the end of years of deep learning".

The secretary of state also predicted that plans to permit a single body to set exams in each subject would end a "race to the bottom" under which "grade inflation and dumbing down" have flourished.

"We believe it is time to raise aspirations and restore rigour," he said.

He accused Labour of presiding over "years of drift", claiming the government's reforms would allow English pupils to "compete with the world's best".

But shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg told MPs: "Labour is absolutely committed to rigour and raising standards, but this proposed new system does not reflect the needs of society and modern economy."

Mr Twigg said ditching coursework was "totally out of date", adding: "Schools today do need to change.

"The education leaving age is rising to 18, we need to face the challenges of the 21st Century.

"But I simply don't accept that we achieve that by returning to a system abolished as out-of-date in the 1980s."

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