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‘I-levels’ could replace GCSEs

GCSEs could be replaced with Intermediate levels, or I-levels, it has been reported.

A draft paper seen by The Times proposes changing lettered grades to a numbered scale, where 8 is the highest and 1 the lowest. The paper also suggests removing coursework in formal assessments in eight core subjects, apart from science.

Opportunities to re-sit the new qualifications would be reduced, with all end-of-course exams taken in the summer, with English and maths in November.

The paper has not been analysed or appraised at senior levels within the DfE, and the department refused to comment. It is said that Ofqual backs the proposals, which are expected to be officially published next week.

“We will be consulting on proposals for reformed GCSEs shortly. We will not comment on speculation about the content of our consultation,” an Ofqual spokesman said.

Christine Blower, head of the National Union of Teachers, said: “There is certainly a need for a serious debate on the examination system, particularly in the light of the school leaving age rising to 18. Teaching and learning and the voice of the profession must inform possible changes to assessment.”

Stephen Twigg, Labour's shadow education secretary, said: “This is now the third time Michael Gove has tried to abolish GCSEs. He keeps failing because he hasn't got a thought through plan to improve exams. Changing letters to numbers and the name of the exams is hardly the key to higher standards.

“We need serious proposals that learn from the best countries in the world. This needs a rigorous focus on English and Maths and testing both academic knowledge and the skills that young people will need in the workplace.”

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