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The 3 Exam Boards In England Should Merge

Comment 31st August 2010

Merge the current exam boards Edexcel, AQA and OCR. Or alternatively give the contract to just one of them.

When a school is selecting which exam board to enter it pupils on to, it rationally selects the exam board with the reputation for asking the easiest (and most consistent) questions.

You cannot blame schools and teachers for acting in this manner, especially in a time when league tables hold such sway in the minds of parents, governors and media.

Exam boards currently have an equally rational desire to provide as many exam papers to as many schools as possible. You therefore have this 'race to the bottom' in terms of difficulty in exam papers.   

The only solution is to have 1 exam board, independent of central government, which will write the papers for all GCSE and A level students in the country.

Why does this matter?

Eleven years ago when studying for my GCSE's, I was in position where the teachers would give you the previous ten years exam papers and tell you to go away and practice.

Needless to say I got 10 A* and 4 A grades, with the pupils surrounding me doing equally as well.

We all agreed on one thing in particular – the papers got progressively easier in the Nineties. I suspect the same thing has happened in the Noughties too. Either that or human civilization has advanced at a rate never before seen in modern times.

I believe that the 3 exam boards are just as much to blame as central government for this decline in standards.

If we are to maintain the reputation of the British education sector we must act soon. That reputation acquired over so many years can quickly be washed away. It would a great shame in a sector in which internationally we are competitive and respected.

We also deserve to give elite universities and businesses a chance of correctly selecting those with the most potential. Equality of opportunity will be a myth if there is no gold standard of qualification by which to judge pupils achievement.

We also need to accept that giving pupils low scores such as F and G is pointless. Let us take this failure on the chin and try to acknowledge our deficiencies. We do a disservice to all pupils by pretending no one can fail.  

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