To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many letters he has recently received from (a) right hon. and hon. Members and (b) members of the public about GCSE coursework.
My right hon. and learned Friend has received 740 letters from Members of Parliament and 2,110 letters from members of the public about GCSE coursework.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent representations he has received from (a) the National Association for the Teaching of English, (b) the Northern Examining Association, (c) the Joint Matriculation Board, (d) the National Association of Advisers in English and (e) the joint council for the GCSE, about GCSE coursework; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. and learned Friend has received various representations from all but the Joint Matriculation Board about GSCE coursework. He is convinced that limits on coursework are needed in order to maintain public credibility in the GCSE, and is satisfied that the limits which he has set will secure that confidence whilst giving sufficient scope for the innovative assessment techniques facilitated by coursework.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement giving details of the evidence which he has considered in reaching his conclusion that changes should be made to GCSE coursework.
My decision to limit the coursework element of the GCSE in order to maintain public confidence in that qualification was taken in the light of advice from the School Examinations and Assessment Council (SEAC) and based on evidence in the HMI report "The Introduction of the GCSE in Schools 1986–88", the SEAC report "Examining GCSE: First General Scrutiny Report" and the "Report of the Independent Appeals Authority for School Examinations". All three reports stressed the difficulty of ensuring standardising marking and adequate moderation in coursework. The first also drew attention to the unfairness caused by coursework not being conducted under uniform conditions.