This week the secretary of state for education, Damien Hinds, was reported as saying that he was happy with the system of multiple exam boards for GCSEs and A-levels with the author suggesting that this was ‘putting to bed years of speculation’. To what extent is this a fair assessment?
A history of speculation
As the author quite rightly points out there is a significant history of speculation over the single or multiple exam board questions.
The strongest push in recent times coincided with the education committee review of exams administration in 2011/12 and proposals for radical reform to GCSE’s and A- levels that were being tabled including a rebranding as ‘Ebc’s’. The reforms did proceed without a name change and plans for a single board were also dropped – reportedly on the basis of legal advice.
However, the question has resurfaced periodically in relation to policy positions on which the DfE perhaps feels the need for a lever or when the industry makes the press for the wrong reasons.
Furthermore, research has typically demonstrated the resonance of the single board option amongst stakeholder groups including parents, employers and many teachers and schools leaders.
Capability and Intent
Clearly, this weeks response is linked to the decision that the new T levels qualification would be delivered by just one exam board and the same publication has speculated in a previous feature that T levels could be a testing ground for A-levels and GCSE. Hence the question would have been expected and an answered prepared. Whether this amounts to a formal policy position or an expedient tactical response is a moot point as history tells us future events are the more likely drivers.
The multiple board question is clearly as a strategic issue and one that has both a history and a future likely to be peppered with uncertainty. We can also add to that uncertainty over T level outcomes. Hence whilst boards may also be ‘happy’ with a system of multiple exam boards our recommendation is to keep the single board scenario in view.
How do you see the pros and cons of single and multiple boards? Is the question put to bed? To what extent might T levels have a bearing on the outcome?
Please share your thoughts below