Schools in England are fitted into government league tables, as measured on the percentage of pupils who get five or more A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths.
Although the marking of GCSE grades goes down to G, only the grades A*, A, B and C are considered a “pass”.
Schools are expected to have at least 40% of students reaching this standard.
A report by the government department that oversees the quality of qualifications including GCSE says that there is a trend of schools running the GCSE schools years (Years 10 and 11) as a “tactical operation to secure certain grades and combinations of grades”.
In other words, while it might be good for the child to do a GCSE in a more obscure subject because of his/her interest in the subject, the child is often pushed into subjects that count towards the school league tables.
“This has come to be seen as ‘what good schools do’ despite the awareness of many teachers and parents that the concept of broad and deep learning can get lost along the way,” says an Ofqual report.
The watchdog also says that the 2012 debacle over English marks proves the proposal by Education Secretary Michael Gove to end the modularisation of GCSEs in England by 2014 is correct. In future everyone should take the same exams, rather than a choice of modules