New proposals call for more robust benchmarks of performance and improvements in assessing attainment over time.
CentreForum, the research think tank aiming to influence national policy, has published proposals for the progress it thinks pupils should make over the next 15 years. This consultative document seeks to initiate debate about expectations and standards in the English education system.
In the introduction to the proposals, David Laws, Executive Chairman of Centre Forum and former Schools Minister, says that more time needs to be given to debating what the education system is trying to achieve: “Education is about more than attainment in examinations, but attainment is one of the most important measures of how our education system is performing”.
According to the proposals, when Grade 5 becomes the new GCSE ‘benchmark’, the proportion of pupils achieving a ‘good pass’ in English and maths is expected to drop from around 58% to 35%. “At age 16, we think most pupils can and should achieve an average of a Grade 5 in their Attainment 8 subjects and this will be the new benchmark of national success. We have set a proposed goal that across England at least 75% of children should eventually achieve this level."
Responding to the proposals, Ofsted Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, applauded the CentreForum’s ambitions for GCSEs, but added that those pupils not pursuing an academic path should not be forgotten. Sir Michael calls for the education system to be rebalanced with more high-quality vocational and technical education and clear alternatives to higher education.