Education Secretary Michael Gove was forced into a humiliating U-turn today as he scrapped plans to replace GCSEs with a new English Baccalaureate.
In yet another embarrassing coalition climbdown Mr Gove tried to downplay criticisms from industry groups, opposition MPs and even his own side that his proposal was unworkable.
He claimed in the Commons that while there was a consensus that the exams system needed to change, axing GCSEs in favour of new English Baccalaureate Certificates in core academic subjects represented "one reform too many at this time."
The Education Secretary had originally wanted to introduce the new EBacc certificate in England in the five core academic areas of English, maths, science, languages and humanities - history or geography.
Mr Gove told MPs that instead of new qualifications, GCSEs will be reformed with exams taken at the end of the course rather than in modules, alongside extended questions and less internal assessment.
He also confirmed that he would not be pressing ahead with plans to hand each of the core EBC subjects to a single exam board - a move he had previously argued was essential to prevent boards "dumbing down" standards to attract more schools.
The decision was said to follow pressure from within the coalition from the Liberal Democrats as well as criticism from MPs across the political spectrum.
Last week the cross-party Commons education committee said the government had "not proved its case" that GCSEs should be abolished in key academic subjects.
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg described the move as "a humiliating climbdown."
"The words 'GCSE' and 'fiasco' seem to be indelibly linked under this government," he said.
National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower said that for once Mr Gove had listened to sense.
"The English Baccalaureate Certificates were universally condemned by everyone from the teaching profession to bodies representing the arts, sport, business, technical and design groups and the education select committee," she said.
"The Education Secretary must now learn a lesson from this fiasco and consult with those who know far more than he appears to do about education."
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