Last-minute school reforms hit children, says Plymouth councillor
A PLYMOUTH councillor is calling for a halt to changes being made to the education system 'at short notice'.
The call by Cllr Nicky Williams comes only days after the latest reform announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Mr Gove told the Conservative Party conference at the end of last month that in future resit grades will not count in school performance tables.
Cllr Williams, Plymouth's Cabinet member for children and young people, said that changing the way GCSE results are recorded in school league tables at the last minute was not acceptable.
"Schools are literally reeling from all the changes being made; it's relentless.
"I feel incredibly sorry for the pupils caught up in all of this. It's their education that is affected."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "Schools should not be entering children for exams before they are ready.
"Pupils can still be entered this November – we have not changed that.
"But if schools now believe pupils would get a higher grade by entering next summer they should do that.
"Changing the system so that results in first exams count in performance tables will ensure there is no benefit to schools who simply want to put children in for GCSEs before they are ready."
Cllr Williams said: "I feel strongly that these kinds of decisions should not be made at such short notice without any consideration for the young people whose lives are being affected."
Cllr Williams agreed that some schools had used early entries to "bank" results, but she added: "The majority enter pupils who are close to the pass/fail mark to spur them on to achieve more.
"The confidence gained from getting a C motivates some on to higher grades. It also allows pupils to focus on certain subjects if necessary.
"It seems to me that this is more about Gove wanting to control schools by dictating how they manage their exams and not about consideration for pupils.
"It's inevitable that the figures will be skewed by this further tinkering with GCSEs."
She said her biggest concern was for councils and schools hearing about the changes "through seemingly random announcements".
"Piecemeal policy-making is no good to anyone, these are children's lives.
"Every change costs huge amounts in time and planning and reduces confidence in the system.
"Young people just want the opportunity to thrive and prove how good they are, we should stop putting barriers in their way."