Questions That Should Be Asked at the Education Select Committee About KS4 Reforms

Tomorrow Michael Gove is in front of the Education Select Committee regarding the proposed reforms at KS4.  If I were in the room, this is what I would like to know:

Are the changes really justified on the grounds of this summer’s fiasco?

1. You have argued that problems with the GCSE in the summer show there is a need for KS4 changes. How do we know that the problems were not caused by incompetency within Ofqual?

2. How wrong would the regulator need to have got things before you felt it necessary to intervene?

The proposed structure of the qualifications

1. You are strongly suggesting that there will be one exam board. How will the tender process work for this?

2. Noting tender failure in other areas not easily tolerant of disruption, e.g. rail lines, what steps will you put in place to ensure the tender process is entirely transparent and fair?

3. What process will you go through to decide if an EBC subject should have a coursework element?  If the majority of favour among those stakeholders is for coursework, will those views be acted upon or ignored? (NB: if he said anything about ‘listening’ I would refer him back to the words acted upon)

4. There is still great concern that arts, social science and technical subjects are being pushed out due to the EBacc. There is no reason for the fifth GCSE to be solely History or Geography. For what reason can other GCSEs not be placed in that fifth box?  (If he says ‘rigour’, I would point out that on the CEM analysis many subjects are more difficult than geography or history; if he says ‘international evidence’ I would put out that every country also has civics/citizenship and PE up to 16, yet those aren’t in there; if he says something about ‘facilitating subjects’ I would point out that you don’t need geography to do geography at oxford, you do need music to do music though, so that argument also falls down.)

5. You recently claimed that teacher racism is influencing the decision to scrap the foundation and higher tier. If institutional racism exists it must be dealt with thoroughly. Will you therefore publish analysis on current GCSE data that proves this to be the case so that the issue can be tackled within schools as well as through the GCSE system. If not, why not?
6. Your justification document for the KS4 reforms talks extensively about the problems that low GCSE attainers face in their future life. Your only solution appears to be scrapping the lower tier paper, but that won’t suddenly mean those students achieve better. Do you really not have any policy for dealing with low attainers? (If he says something about Free Schools & academies, ask him what exactly is changing in their classrooms and are they going to be required to publish information about how they are achieving such successes so that all schools can benefit)
7.Why is Polish not in the list of language EBCs?  It is more economically important than Arabic and Italian (both included), according to the CBI report you quoted in the original report on MFL’s inclusion in to the EBacc, and it has a numerically larger population of speakers than Italian. 
8. Will community languages be included in the EBCs? (If not, why not?)
9. In effect, are the only reforms we’re actually going to see just: getting rid of modules in favour of terminal exams and the removal of tiers?  Is all this EBC confusion worth it just for that?