There’s much speculation today that Labour’s decision to oppose the coalition’s GCSE replacement the EBC means that the new exams will never happen. The argument goes that if the Tories aren’t in government, Labour — or a Labour-led coalition — would simply keep GCSEs going. (This depends on Labour continuing to oppose the new exams which they may not if they prove to be as popular as some pollsters expect them to be).
But keeping GCSEs going is nowhere near as simple as it sounds. The exam boards will now turn nearly all of their attention to winning the one available English Baccalaureate Certificate contract for each subject. Those boards that are not successful in the 2013 competitions are unlikely to keep on staff to work on GCSE courses that are set to be scrapped while their markers are likely to look for employment elsewhere.
What is, perhaps, even more important, though, is that academies, which will make up the overwhelming majority of secondary schools by 2015, are free to choose which exams they enter their pupils for. They are likely to start moving across to either the iGCSE or the new EBCs rather than sticking with GCSEs which may well be abolished in three years time.
By 2015, GCSEs will no longer be the status quo as far as schools and the education bureaucracy are concerned. This means that continuing with them will not be anywhere near as easy as it sounds.