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Gove’s EBacc plans to replace GCSEs scrapped

Plans to replace GCSEs with an English Baccalaureate, or ‘EBacc’, are to be scrapped in a major Government u-turn.

Education secretary Michael Gove had planned “more rigorous” exams in core subjects from 2015, but a recent report by the Commons select education committee said the changes would be “too much, too fast”.

The plans faced significant criticism from teachers, unions and MPs, including Gove’s Coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats.

The EBacc would have covered maths, English and science, to be extended later to history, geography and languages. Plans to have only one exam board per subject are also to be scrapped.

The exam regulator Ofqual wrote to Gove suggesting that this should not take place at the same time as other planned changes, raising concerns about the feasibility for awarding franchises in the short time scale.

Changes to the curriculum are still expected to include reducing the role played by coursework in GCSEs. Gove is also expected to announce changes to performance measures used in school league tables, with a new 8-subject measure of GCSEs.

Labour's shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “This is a humiliating climbdown for Michael Gove but more important than that it is really good news for education.”

Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the Government had “slammed on the brakes just before the cliff face”.

(Image showing education secretary Michael Gove and deputy PM Nick Clegg on a visit to Durand Academy is Crown Copyright, used here under a Creative Commons licence courtesy the Cabinet Office)

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