I was fascinated to spot a "leaked" article in the news yesterday, reporting that the Education Secretary apparently plans to scrap GCSEs and bring back O-levels!
Thirty years after the demise of the O-level, it's at least being recognized and acknowledged that the standard of GCSEs is nowhere near comparable and the pernicious creeping influence of grade inflation is rendering them almost useless as a true indicator of any real ability in the subject. Predictably, the plans have drawn howls of protest from the teaching unions and also from the Lib Dems, who I suspect are mainly just miffed because they weren't consulted about it first. It's perhaps rather bad timing for the thousands of kids sitting their GCSEs at the moment, who are understandably not going to be best pleased about the idea of their exams being 'too easy'. We're told there's also to be a new-style CSE exam for the "less able" pupils, so everyone should - at least in theory - have the chance of coming away with a qualification of some description, and if the end result of all this is a system that actually matches the pupil's real ability it's got to be an improvement on the present rather shambolic state of affairs.
I rather hope the actual terms O-level and CSE are re-introduced, although early indications are the acronyms themselves might not be. But millions of people know what they stood for, would be pleased to see the return of the standard of education that prevailed when they were last used, and are going to be disappointed if it all turns out to amount to nothing.