Gove calls for a split with Wales and NI on GCSE and A Level reform…

Here’s one to put on the long term forecast. Michael Gove was over last week (not that our Education Minister was very forthcoming on what they actually talked about)… and now he has announced there is such a gap between his reforms in GCSE and the way it is done in Wales and Northern Ireland that there may have to be a split.

John O’Dowd has said that he has no principled objection to the change. But that’s not been the case in Wales, where Leighton Andrews does have some serious political problems with the Conservative Secretary of State’s proposals. BBC Wales reports some edge to the ‘conversation’:

In a report in The Guardian newspaper, Whitehall sources accuse the Welsh government of being “determined to keep dumbing down” exam standards.

On Twitter, Mr Andrews said the “meeting was cordial but the Whitehall source is just offensive – and it reads like it was someone in the meeting”.

Referring to the Guardian article, Mr Andrews said: “And a week later Whitehall sources, quoting directly from a comment in the meeting, start being offensive again.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, Wales will continue to have GCSEs, A-levels and AS levels. So will Northern Ireland. I don’t know about England.”

He added: “One of the benefits of devolution is that it allows England to be a laboratory for experiments.”

Ouch… A likely reference to Gove’s climbdown over his plans to dump GCSE and replace it with an English Baccalaureate Certificate. The SoS wants to move from the modular learning of GCSE (and the older CSE and TEC qualification) towards exam based learning.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty