Labour to oppose Gove’s “two tier system” of O’levels and CSEs

25th June, 2012 1:20 pm

Labour’s opposition day debate tomorrow – which was scheduled to be on health – will instead to be on Michael Gove’s plans to bring back O’levels and CSEs.

The motion will seek to ensure that plans to change the education system are scrutinised on the floor of the House of Commons.

Speaking to LabourList this afternoon, a Labour source was keen to stress that whilst the party isn’t against reform that will improve the rigour of the exam system, there will be strong opposition to anything which resembles a “two tier system” or places a “cap on aspiration for young people”.

Crucially, Labour will be seeking to reach out to Lib Dems who have been outspoken on Gove’s plans since they were revealed late last week. If Labour and the Lib Dems unite on this issue, it could deal a damaging blow to the resurrection of the O’level.

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  • Did Labour consider what would happen to aspirations amongst the young when they introduced tuition fees and/or scrapped compulsory teaching of foreign languages? Or set up academies/free schools?

    • treborc

      I suspect it seemed a good idea at the time, if I remember at one time and I cannot remember who said it, but the idea was languages were a waste of time because everyone speak English now.

  • These ODM seems to be happening with increasing regularity.  Government raise a policy, Labour get an Opposition Day Motion ad nauseum.  Has anyone actually read the proposals & asked the professionals & business who eventually get the people in the workforce (hopefully) what they think?  Back to O Level & CSEs. Doing CSEs is not shameful.  I know, I did CSEs. 

  • Do you have a copy of what the Motion will actually say?

  • KonradBaxter

    “cap on aspiration for young people”.

    Tuition fees at University.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    I remeber the days of O levels and CSEs only too well.
    1. There were a huge number of pupils who were boarder line CSE/ and O Level. The result was that those who’s paernets could afford it, paid fro them to enter one of the exams privately.
    2, The exams themselves were a memory test and in the case of History and Geography for example, did not relate to understanding as much as regurgitating facts.
    3. The topics that came up in the paper would mean that you were in for a lottery of which things to revise for.
    4. Those with good memory could breeze through some of the O levels, others who could think more deeply got no credit.
    5. There was one exam on the O level and if you were ill or had an off day you were stuffed.

    Neither the old nor new system helps late developers.

    The GCSE system got around all of these issues. GCSE is not perfect, but is a lot better than the old two tier system.

    The idea of returning to that old system is absolutely wrong, and the idea that Gove can push this through without even going through the cabinet shows a total arrogance that we have come to expect. Cameron knew about this scheme, I suspect that the whole way that it is being rushed through, but not through the proper channels shows that it is yet another shifty scheme of Dave that he is trying to slip through on the sly.

    Let’s hope this time that the yellow-belly LibDems actually vote properly this time, unlike over Jeremy Hunt.

  • Winston_from_the_Ministry

    This is all a bit silly when you take into account the following facts:

    1. We have no real idea of what policy proposal will eventually come from this leaked statement.

    2. We ALREADY HAVE a multi tier exam process within the GCSE system, there are different papers with different possible grades.

    • AnotherOldBoy

      Quite right.  Some options mean you can only get a grade C at best.  Those who complain that Mr Gove’s sensible proposals will produce a “two tier” system are either ignorant or disingenuous: we have one already.

  • LordElpus

    “there will be strong opposition to anything which resembles a “two tier

    Do we not already have a two tier system – those who use state education and those who pay for private? And it could be argued that the Academy system makes it three tier.

    “or places a “cap on aspiration for young people””

    Hypocrisy at its best. Labour’s whole educational ethos is to work to the level of the least able, thereby holding back any child with any kind of aptitude. Then, as has been mentioned, when they get to university charge them a bloody fortune for the privilege.

    • Winston_from_the_Ministry

      As I’ve mentioned already, we already have a two tier system within existing GCSEs, so this is worse than hypocrisy, it’s flat out ignorance.

      • But that’s within the context of one recognised qualification – the O level system saw most people taking CSE’s as O levels were designed only for the ‘grammar school stream’. The proposed reform is entirely unnecessary

        • Winston_from_the_Ministry

          Hidden tiers are still tiers, and given the requirements for entering A-levels, still have a significant impact on children.

          At the moment, we don’t really know what the proposed reform will be Mike, it may well be worth opposing, but it may well not.

  • Dave Postles

    Bill Rammell: congratulations to him on his appointment as VC of the University of Bedfordshire.

    • I lived in Harlow when Bill was on the council. Though he is more to the right than me, he’s a sincere and decent man who is still very much in touch with his roots

  • LordElpus

    IMO education is the bedrock of society. For the past 30 odd years governments of all colours have meddled in it and yet not one has improved it.

    Presently our education system is a sorry mess which does not produce the end result that business requires . . . and I have no faith in any of the political parties improving the situation . . . no matter how much they meddle!

  • jonathanmorse

    Surely the problem with GCSE’s is that it’s max grade is A. If we replaced it with numbers, with a ‘7’ equall to a ‘C’ say and ‘9’ replacing ‘A’, i.e. going up not down like the old CSE’s did, you could keep the separate papers and help everybody out. Call it a British Certificate of Secondary Education.

  • Mickelmas

    Has anyone told Stephen Twigg (Gove’s deputy) of this opposition?


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