Education chiefs won’t rush decision on exam reforms

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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We will not rush a decision on school exam reforms, the Education Minister told Tynwald.

Tim Crookall (Douglas North) was quizzed over the impact of planned major changes to the school examination in England.

Bill Henderson (Douglas North) asked whether he plans to break away from the UK education system and create a curriculum more closely related to the Isle of Man.

The Education Minister said: ‘We do not intend to rush a decision but we would like to give our teachers a clear statement on the pathway we intend to follow a year ahead of the first changes in England.’

He said very substantial changes are taking place in England. The modular approach to GCSEs and A Levels has already been replaced by a return to end of course exams. More extensive reform will follow in 2015 with a new GCSE qualification with a different grading system.

Mr Crookall said details were unclear. Up to now, Isle of Man schools have been able to select subjects from any of the exam boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The changes are not being followed in Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own exam system and there have been reforms here, too.

Mr Crookall said: ‘The Isle of Man, of course, does not have to adopt the new qualification system in England and could also make a decision to reject the reforms in England take one of the alternative pathways.’

He said officers had spent two days in Edinburgh, visiting schools and meeting with the Scottish Qualification Authority. Representatives from the Welsh Joint Education Committee and Cambridge International Examinations have given presentations here.

Mr Crookall said when there was greater clarity on the English reforms and alternatives, the department would raise awareness of the changes and how they might affect young people. This will lead to a full public consultation.

He said there were many factors to take into account including quality of learning, teacher recruitment, university access and routes into employment.

Addressing the issue of Manx-related studies, he said: ‘We are looking at creating opportunities for enriching the curriculum as we pass through this period of change.’

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