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Exam shake-up 'will disadvantage some students'
An exam shake-up in English secondary schools could discriminate against students, according to the headteacher of a Watford school.
The GCSE exam, which is sat by 16-year-olds before they go on to college, sixth form, or employment, will be gradually phased out.
The core subjects of English, maths, and science, will be replaced by a new qualification called the English Baccalaureate Certificate.
The new exam will do away with coursework, favouring a single test at the end of the course.
Principal of Francis Combe Academy, Leo Gilbert, said: "It's very early days and headteachers up and down the country are trying to work out what this will mean for students.
"The whole assessment structure is going through upheaval and students are never sure what they have to achieve and what the goalposts are.
"This English Baccalaureate with add further uncertainty to that and there is a real danger some students will feel the courses they are being offered are not the ones they will be able to succeed at."
Education secretary Michael Gove said the new system would involve a single exam at the end of the term, rather than ongoing assessment.
Mr Gilbert suggested that coursework, or "controlled assessment" was open to dishonesty, with some students submitting work not entirely their own.
He added: "It is much simpler to have a single 'terminal' exam, but it may discriminate against students who work in different ways. Some students demonstrate their best in controlled assessment.
"In the new system their performance and education over five years will be judged on how well they can do on one afternoon, so there are bound to be inequalities.
"In the rest of our lives we don't demonstrate our skills in one afternoon in an exam so it's not really testing what our youngsters are able to produce."
The first students to sit the new exam will do so in 2017, but the scheme will be extended to include foreign language courses, history and geography.
Under the current system there are many exam boards which compete with each other, but under the English Baccalaureate there will only be one.