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Gcse

Volume 167: debated on Wednesday 14 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many representations he has received from schools complaining about the dates of the GCSE examinations in 1989 and 1990.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the first and last dates of GCSE examinations in 1989 and in 1990 together with similar information for GCE O-levels in 1987.

In 1989, the first GCSE examination was on 15 May, the last on 23 June. In 1990, the first examination will be on 14 May, the last on 22 June.In 1987 the GCE O-level examinations of most of the boards ran from the beginning to the end of June.Since GCSE replaced GCE O-level and CSE, any comparison must also take into account the dates of the CSE examinations: in 1987, these generally ran from the end of April or the beginning of May to mid-June.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what arrangements exist for his Department to make representations to the GCSE examination boards about the dates of examinations.

Officials are in regular contact with the examining groups about this issue.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the policy of his Department about the proportion of the summer term which should be regarded as available for GCSE examinations and the relation of this to the spring bank holiday.

The GCSE examining groups are independent bodies, wholly responsible for the administration of their own examinations. Ministers have no powers to intervene directly in their day-to-day affairs. Nevertheless, I am concerned that the examination season should not encroach unnecessarily on the summer term. I am assured that the groups are aware of the anxiety which has been expressed on this issue, and that although it is now too late to change the timetable for 1990, the groups are looking very carefully at the position for 1991 and beyond.