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Are we losing sight of the true purpose of exams?

GCSEs should equip as many young people as possible with the skills to succeed. Recent overhauls are unlikely to deliver

By Kevan Collins  

Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/PA Images

The dust has just begun to settle on this year’s GCSE results. Somewhat predictably the focus has been on the new grading system and the tougher exams: the biggest overhaul of GCSEs in a generation.Conceived by Michael Gove, the reforms were designed to make the exams more challenging and to allow greater differentiation between the highest attaining pupils. This, at least, seems to have been achieved.

Instead of an A or A*, there are now three top grades—a 7, 8 or a 9. We…

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