UK Education Secretary Michael Gove’s U-turn on proposals to replace GCSEs with an English Baccalaureate certificate has been welcomed by the island’s teaching unions.
National Union of Teachers island branch secretary Karl Flint described the proposed changes as ‘elitist’.
While Association of Teachers and Lecturers island branch secretary Andrew Shipley said he was ‘pleased that Michael Gove has seen sense’.
In the island, Department of Education and Children director of education Martin Barrow said it looked like its approach of waiting to see how the proposals developed before deciding if it would follow suit had paid off.
Speaking about Mr Gove, Mr Flint said: ‘There is no doubt he has lost the support for his recent change which was, as ever, a personal decision that was based on listening to nobody.
‘I do hope that it might lead to the government feeling the need to have a reshuffle in England, moving him away from education. And my hope would be that whoever replaced him would actually be prepared to listen to education experts from the many different areas which are available.’
Mr Flint said the English baccalaureate ‘would have been a further example of elitism, which in my world is unjustifiable’, adding: ‘All children deserve the opportunity to succeed and where they can’t succeed across the board, they deserve the chance to succeed in their chosen areas of ability.’
Mr Shipley welcomed the decision, saying: ‘ATL is pleased that Michael Gove has seen sense and is beginning to realise that he needs to listen to education experts before pushing ahead with reforms.
‘We are not set against reform, but this must be based on evidence, focused on the right issues and recognise how children learn and teachers teach.’
He said: ‘There is a need for an education curriculum suitable for the 21st century, where children’s education is well rounded and covers both academic and vocational knowledge and skills.
‘It is vitally important that a dialogue is entered into with all concerned parties, so that a curriculum is developed which meets the needs of children, employers and society as a whole. This is especially the case on the Isle of Man where we face a number of years of uncertainty as the budget is rebalanced.’
Mr Barrow said the DEC was not ‘wholly surprised’ by Mr Gove’s announcement last week. It followed mounting concern within the coalition government and education groups.
He said the DEC’s approach of ‘playing a waiting game’ had ‘paid off for us so far’. And he said the DEC would now wait and see what plans emerge next, and how they develop.
He previously said the department would also watch to see how authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland responded, because ‘although the island needs to offer its young people the opportunity to take appropriate qualifications at the age of 16, this does not necessarily have to be through the English system’.