Replacing English Language GCSE with a ‘Passport in English’ qualification to be taken by students at any age when they are ready between 15-19 is a proposal of an independent commission set up by the Association of School and College Leaders.
The new qualification would include a portfolio of a student’s writing and spoken English, with assessment online. Learners could progress through different levels in reading, writing, speaking and listening. It would also end what many regard as a ‘wasteful’ resits policy.
Roy Blatchford, Chair of the new ‘Forgotten Third’ commission, points out that in the UK one in three 16-year-olds do not pass GCSE English and maths at grade 4 or above after 12 years of education. He maintains that the low pass rate is due partly to the fact that the number of current grades awarded is largely determined by the results of previous cohorts, so as to maintain comparable outcomes. As such the same proportion will continue to fall below the standard pass unless action is taken. A ‘Passport to maths’ has also now been suggested.