Do not Scrap GCSEs. Give pupils a choice of their exam! Let all children achieve. Respect diversity – Ignore inequality. Aspire to a degree or 5 Stars

When I was the chair of Governors of Barbara Priestman School – it was a great school for children with physical disabilities and learning difficulties at the time – I saw the joy of this at Annual Presentation evenings. Individual achievements were rewarded on the grand scale.

There could not be a better time than now to recognise a simple truth. While some children are academically inclined, others are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, maybe more practical, capable of street-wisdom more than book learning.

All are capable of achievement given the right education.

Yes, keep GCSEs as an academic qualification for those destined for University. Do not deny it to them because Covid-19 makes it even more difficult for others, more potentially damaging to their mental health. Equality of opportunity to go to Uni is of the essence for them.

That right, however, has absolutely no value to the other half in the system. Give them an exam of value to them. Give them the possibility of achievement.

Let them aspire to a 5 Star Rating, and no need for them to be ashamed of a 4 Star Rating or a 3 Star Rating. Better than a sense of failure with GCSEs. Something they can present with a job application.

Education is not about parity of esteem – a nonsensical notion! People should not be esteemed because they are lawyers. They should be esteemed only if – and I say if not when – they are good ones. Giving pupils self-esteem is what education should about. This is exemplified by Ashleigh Watts, nee Ritchie, Tracy in my play Death of a Nightingale.

Here is a challenge to the Teaching Profession. Size 7,8 and 9 shoes do not fit everyone. Introduce a holistic Alternative Curriculum for Life with EfL, Education for Life exam at the end of the journey for those wearing 5,6 and 7 shoes. All shoes with half sizes! And their choice.

Schools should be for pupils, not the other way around.

Here is my suggestion for the curriculum.

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Basic literacy would look after itself!

This would be by far the best way for a highly conservative educational establishment and their unions head off mental health problems especially among the disadvantaged with all their lives ahead of them.

Make a start now.


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