Secondary School Examinations - A single system at 16 plus (1978)

In this White Paper, the government set out its proposals for replacing the GCE and CSE with a single General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).

The complete text is presented in this single web page.

Secondary School Examinations - A single system at 16 plus was prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 14 July 2017.


White Paper: Secondary School Examinations - A single system at 16 plus (1978)

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1978
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


[title page]



Secondary School
Examinations: A Single System
at 16 Plus


Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Education and Science and
the Secretary of State for Wales by Command of Her Majesty
October 1978


LONDON
HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE
40p net


Cmnd. 7368


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SECONDARY SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS

A SINGLE SYSTEM AT 16 PLUS

I THE MAIN PROPOSALS

INTRODUCTION

1. There are at present two separate public examinations taken in the schools of England and Wales by young people aged about 16. These are the General Certificate of Education (GCE) O-level examination and the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) examination. For some years the possibility of replacing these examinations with a single system has been under discussion in the Schools Council and elsewhere. The subject is examined in detail in 'School Examinations' (Cmnd. 7281). The Government have decided, in the light of this report, that the time has now come to set in hand the necessary steps which must be taken before a single examination system can be introduced to replace the existing dual system. This White Paper examines the main issues arising.

2. The two parts of the existing system do not match any natural division among children, either in terms of their abilities or their aspirations. A single system of examinations, devised so as to provide a range of assessment procedures wide enough to encompass the needs of the pupils who now take either or both GCE O-level and CSE, will fit better with comprehensively organised secondary education and assist individual schools to use their resources, not least teachers, to the better advantage of their pupils as a whole. This issue is dealt with in more detail in paragraphs 14-18 of this White Paper.

3. The Government believe it to be of first importance that the new system is devised, introduced and managed in such a way that the high standards which are a feature of the present examinations, and which enjoy wide public confidence, should be fully maintained. Accordingly, the Government believe that the arrangements proposed in 'School Examinations' for national level co-ordination of the examinations, and the provision of alternative examination papers and tests at different levels of difficulty, are essential features of the new system. The Government also believe it is essential that the universities and further education and representatives of employers and trades unions should be closely associated with the monitoring and co-ordination of the new system of examinations. Much development work will have to be satisfactorily completed before the new system can become operational. Although the Government wish to see the new system introduced as soon as possible, a firm date for the first examinations under the new system will not be settled until the Government are satisfied that this development work can be completed in good time.

THE SCHOOLS COUNCIL'S PROPOSALS

4. In July 1976 the Schools Council recommended to the then Secretary of State for Education and Science the introduction of a 'common system of examining at 16 plus' to replace the existing examinations. The proposals, prepared following a five-year programme of research and development initiated by the Schools Council and carried out in co-operation with the examining boards, recommended that the common system should be designed for the same range of candidates as GCE O-level and CSE cover together in


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any given subject, with certificates awarded as now on a single subject basis and with results recorded on a seven-point grading scale directly linked to the existing grades awarded by the GCE and CSE boards.

5. The Council's proposals recognised the importance of building on the existing resources of the GCE and CSE boards. They recommended that a new administrative structure should be teacher-controlled, co-ordinated by the Schools Council and regionally based, but that schools should be free to choose among the examining boards. Although much of the research and development work had concentrated on testing the feasibility of common examinations for the relevant ability range (ie examinations in which all candidates take the same tests), the Schools Council's recommendations were for a common system of examining (providing for some alternative tests at different levels of difficulty) and recognised that further development work in both curriculum and assessment techniques would be necessary before the new system could be introduced.

6. The Secretary of State, after consultation with the Secretary of State for Wales, told the Schools Council that she accepted the view that a common system was desirable in principle but that the proposals as they stood were subject to a number of uncertainties which she would wish to see resolved before deciding one way or the other. The uncertainties fell into two broad groups - educational issues, largely arising from the fact that the feasibility studies had mainly adopted the common examination approach to the problem of providing for the wide ability range concerned, and questions relating to administration and cost. She accordingly proposed that the Department and HM Inspectorate, with the co-operation and assistance of the Schools Council's staff, should undertake an intensive and systematic study of the outstanding problems under the oversight of a steering committee.

THE STEERING COMMITTEE

7. This Steering Committee was established under the Chairmanship of Sir James Waddell, and began work in March 1977. Members were appointed on a personal basis and were drawn from the main interests involved: the teaching profession, local authorities, higher and further education, both sides of industry, parents, the Department and HM Inspectorate. The Steering Committee's report, 'School Examinations' (Cmnd. 7281) was published in July 1978.

8. The report concluded that a common or single examining system was educationally feasible, and that subject to the completion of further development work on both syllabuses and assessment procedures the first examinations might be held in 1985. Alternative papers, or other alternative examining techniques, would be required in a number of subjects. The administrative structure recommended by the Steering Committee requires the establishment of new examining 'groups' involving co-operation between the GCE and CSE boards.

9. The second part of the Steering Committee's report contains the reports of two study groups set up by the Steering Committee to consider educational matters and costs, including a detailed subject by subject study of the feasibility studies sponsored by the Schools Council and the experimental joint examinations following from them.


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THE TENTH REPORT FROM THE EXPENDITURE COMMITTEE

10. In July 1977, during the course of the Committee's work, the Tenth Report from the Expenditure Committee on the Attainments of the School Leaver was published. This report contained a number of recommendations relevant to the Steering Committee's work, in particular one to the effect that there should be a drastic reduction in the number of public examination boards. The Government, in their observations on the Tenth Report (Cmnd. 7124), accepted that a reduction in the number of public examination boards might be beneficial but considered that it would be premature to take a view on this issue before Sir James Waddell's Steering Committee had reported to the Secretaries of State.

COMMENTS ON THE STEERING COMMITTEE'S REPORT

11. Because discussions about replacing the existing dual system with a single system have been taking place for some years, the Government have not considered it necessary to provide for a long period for consultations on the basis of the Steering Committee's report. The major interested parties have nevertheless been invited to comment. Reactions have been generally encouraging. There has been widespread support, in principle, for the introduction of a common, or single, examination system to replace GCE O-level and CSE, and for the general nature of the Steering Committee's recommendations, especially where these concern the importance of maintaining standards over time, ensuring nationwide comparability of standards, and the need for extensive further development work.

THE GOVERNMENT'S VIEW

12. The present dual system of examinations for pupils coming to the end of compulsory education has its roots in the history of the school system. The GCE O-level examinations, run by eight independent boards controlled in most cases by universities, stem from the School Certificate and university matriculation examinations designed for the limited number of boys and girls for whom five years of secondary education was available in earlier years. The CSE examinations, established following the report of the Beloe Committee in 1960, 'Secondary School Examinations other than the GCE', and run by 14 independent boards on which school teachers have a controlling majority voice, have developed in more recent years as greater numbers of young people with a wider range of abilities and aspirations have come to complete five years of secondary education. There has always been a link* between the grading structures of the two examinations but they have been separately administered, without any concerted policies or general operational links in relation to syllabus construction or assessment procedures over the dual system as a whole.

13. When the CSE examination was established there was limited experience of examining candidates of this age from a wide range of ability, and it was desirable to promote experiment and the development of examining techniques without affecting the established GCE examinations, and to involve the local education authorities and the teachers more extensively in the examining

*The Schools Council define CSE Grade 1 as follows: Grade 1 is to be awarded to a pupil whose ability is such that he might reasonably have secured a Grade A, B or C in O-Ievel had he followed a course of study leading to that examination instead of a CSE course.


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process to reflect their responsibility for the work of the schools. As a result we now have, in addition to the GCE examinations, CSE examinations offering a great variety of proved examining techniques, and a substantial body of expertise both in the boards themselves and among the teachers who have participated in their work. On the other hand we also have a two-part examination system, whose parts are not related to any natural division of pupils by ability or aspiration, and a multiplicity of syllabuses and certificates issued by 22 independent boards (see Annex) which are a source of confusion to many people not least the employers who rely on such certificates for information about the educational standards of school leavers.

14. The Government consider that one examining system for pupils completing five years of secondary education in England and Wales, with grades on a single scale and with all certificates issued in a common form, administered by a relatively small number of examining authorities, would better match present day needs. The report of the Steering Committee has provided evidence that such a system could be established satisfactorily from both educational and administrative standpoints. The Government accept, in general, the analysis and the recommendations contained in the report of the Committee, and have accordingly decided in favour of the introduction of a single examination system as soon as the necessary preparations can be satisfactorily completed, to lead to the award of a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). This examination system should provide an assessment of performance, on a single subject basis, for broadly the range of candidates for whom the present GCE O-level and CSE examinations are designed (the most able 60 per cent of pupils subject by subject) on a seven-point scale corresponding to present O-level and CSE grades.

15. The study of possible administrative structures for such an examining system, carried out by the Steering Committee, led them to recommend the establishment of a small number of groups of boards as examining authorities for England and Wales. In their report they recommend that such groups should be based in all cases on at least one of the existing GCE boards and one of the existing CSE boards. The range of candidates and assessment procedures required will be wider than is the case with either of the two existing systems, and it will be important to ensure that the wide range of experience provided by the two systems together will be available to each examining group. The Steering Committee also recommend that while the groups should have a territorial basis schools should be free to enter candidates for examinations run by a group other than their 'territorial' group if they wished to do so. The Government agree with these views.

16. The educational studies carried out by the Steering Committee led them to the conclusion that in at least some subjects it would be necessary to provide a variety of alternative examination papers and tests, at different levels of difficulty, in order to provide satisfactorily for candidates from the intended wide ability range. This is especially the case where, as in mathematics or modern languages, the range of skills involved is wide or certain concepts are within the grasp of some candidates but beyond the reach of others. The Government accept this view, and consider it essential that the examination system should enable all candidates to demonstrate their capabilities. The assessment procedures must, therefore, provide for the inclusion of items suitable


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only for some candidates, or required only for some candidates, and in such a way that the curriculum is not distorted for others. The Government accept the conclusions reached by the Steering Committee to the effect that a single system can satisfy these requirements, but that a good deal of development work will have to be completed before such a system can be introduced. This development work, and the subsequent operation of the examination system, will require national co-ordination.

17. In the course of the debate about the possible replacement of GCE O-Ievels and the CSE examinations by a single system, carried out in the Schools Council and elsewhere over several years, a number of other possible advantages related to the internal affairs of schools have been put forward. At present, for example, schools may have to make undesirably early decisions about whether individual pupils should prepare for O-level or CSE examinations in particular subjects, and arbitrary syllabus variations between O-level and CSE in some subjects may make it difficult for schools to use their teaching resources to best advantage. These problems are likely to become more acute as the smaller age groups now in the primary schools move through the secondary schools. A single examining system will not wholly remove problems of this kind, especially in view of the need now clearly seen for alternative papers or tests in some subjects. Nevertheless, the severity of these problems should be considerably reduced because schools will not have to work with more than one examining authority, and because pupils preparing for alternative papers within anyone syllabus are likely to follow closely related courses. It is, therefore, to be expected that in some cases pupils preparing for alternative papers in the same subject could be taught together for at least part of the time, and that decisions about the examination needs of individual pupils could be taken later than at present.

18. It is accordingly the Government's view that the introduction of a single examining system along the lines proposed by the Steering Committee will both better fit the needs of the school system as a whole than the present dual system and also assist the efficient working of individual schools to the benefit of their pupils. The certificates awarded should be more easily understood by employers and the public at large, and the administrative arrangements discussed in later sections of this White Paper should ensure that the standards associated with present grades of certification are fully maintained, together with the desirable nationwide comparability.



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II THE STRUCTURE OF THE NEW EXAMINATION SYSTEM

THE EXAMINING AUTHORITIES

19. The GCE boards, which in most cases have strong links with particular universities, are responsible for the A-level examinations and, in some cases other examinations for candidates from overseas, in addition to their O-Ievel work. They operate nationally, and their income derives from the whole range of their examinations. In some cases they are subsidised from university resources. The CSE boards, on the other hand, serve defined territories and have strong links with the local authorities and school teachers in these territories. Both sets of boards have important resources in the form of buildings, equipment and expert staff, and have built up experienced teams of teachers and others who serve as advisers and examiners.

20. The Government agree with the Steering Committee that the administrative structure for the new single examination system should be based on the resources and staff of the present dual system and be devised in such a way that the other examining work of the GCE boards is not disrupted. Existing buildings and equipment should be used to the best advantage; and there should be minimum interference with the employment expectations of existing staff: these considerations will be of great importance when detailed proposals for the new administrative structure are being prepared. The prime consideration must, however, be that the new structure will be able to make full use of the existing experience and skills of both the CGE boards and the CSE boards in establishing and running the new system. It is largely on this that the confidence of parents and pupils, and employers and the education service itself, is likely to depend.

21. The Steering Committee considered that a new structure based on groups of existing boards would best satisfy these requirements. The Committee did not however put forward proposals for the territorial coverage of these groups, or for their constitutions, considering that these were matters which should be worked out in discussions among the existing boards and the Education Departments. The Government attach particular importance to the following considerations.

22. Each new examining authority, or group of boards, should be based on at least one GCE board and at least one CSE board. It should be identified with a defined territory broadly covering the area(s) of the CSE board(s) concerned but with boundaries coinciding with local education authority boundaries. Wales should form one such territory. For England, it seems unlikely that more than four examining authorities could be established, in view of links which have already been established between the Cambridge, Oxford, Oxford and Cambridge, and Southern Universities boards, but the number of examining authorities should not be less than three.

FREEDOM OF CHOICE

23. Schools should be free to choose to enter candidates for the examination offered by any of the examining authorities. It nevertheless seems likely that most schools will choose the examinations offered by the authority in whose territory they lie. It is, therefore, important that each examining authority


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should be satisfied that its examining capacity, in terms of buildings, equipment and staff, is broadly in line with the scale of examining business likely to be required by the schools within its territory, and that it will be able to operate on the basis of fees broadly in line with fees charged by other authorities.

THE CONSTITUTION OF EXAMINING AUTHORITIES

24. No one authority should, by virtue of its size, dominate the examining system; and each authority should be large enough to carry out research and development work and to offer as full a service to schools as other authorities. The territories will of necessity be larger than the existing CSE board areas, and some schools and even local education authorities will inevitably be some distance from any central office a new authority may establish. The size, shape and effectiveness of communications within any proposed territory will therefore be important, as will be the distribution of offices within a territory.

25. In detail, the constitutions of new authorities may legitimately vary, for example to take account of differences such as exist in the constitutional links the existing GCE boards have with the universities. It will be necessary for the constitutional arrangements to be made so that the GCE boards' financial soundness is not impaired bearing in mind their other examining work, and so that parent university property can, where appropriate, be used for the new examinations while still remaining university property. Each examining authority should nevertheless have a senior body responsible for the oversight of its operations. This body should be representative of the main interested parties, including in all cases the teachers employed within the examining authority'S territory; the local education authorities for the relevant territory; the universities; non-university higher education, further education, employers, trades unions and parents. No one of these interests should have a majority. The Secretaries of State should keep in close contact with the work of the examining authorities by appointing assessors to these senior bodies.

26. The internal structure and distribution of work within an examining authority should be largely a matter for the authority itself to determine. It is, however, essential that the arrangements made will:

i. enable all the authority's examinations to be certified by the examining authority as a whole in a common-form certificate;

ii. provide a full range of board-based examinations for those schools wishing to use them, conforming to any national criteria for syllabuses and assessment procedures (see paragraph 31);

iii. enable those schools, or groups of schools, who wish to use school-based examinations to do so, and ensure that all such examinations conform to any national criteria for syllabuses and assessment procedures.

CENTRAL CO-ORDINATION OF THE EXAMINATION SYSTEM

27. The existing GCE and CSE boards are to a large extent autonomous bodies although the Schools Council co-ordinates certain aspects of their work. In particular, the Council approves GCE A-level syllabuses. The GCE boards have no formal links with the Department of Education and Science or the Welsh Office but the CSE boards operate under 'conditions of recognition'


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established by the Secretary of State. Both GCE and CSE certificates are countersigned by an officer of the Department of Education and Science or the Welsh Office, as a mark of the Secretaries of State's recognition of the examinations.

28. The Steering Committee's report recommends that 'arrangements for central co-ordination of 16 plus examinations should be strengthened and a central body (probably the Schools Council) should be responsible for securing agreement' on criteria agreed nationally for syllabuses and examinations and for co-ordinating the further preparations needed for a common system. The report also states that the Department will need initially to be closely involved in preparations for the new system, but that central co-ordination should not rest finally within central government.

29. The Government agree that there will be a need for stronger central co-ordination of the new single examination system, to promote the effective development of new syllabuses and examinations and to assist in establishing and maintaining public confidence in examination standards when the new and in some respects more complex system comes into operation. They also agree that such co-ordination should not rest finally within central government. The Government do not wish to impose control or uniformity on examinations, which would be inconsistent with the sharing of responsibilities for the curriculum, but to secure the coherence needed to ensure comparability between examination results throughout England and Wales. Public confidence in comparability and standards will be reinforced by the knowledge that all groups of boards are applying the same criteria, agreed with a central co-ordinating body, to all their syllabuses and assessment and moderation procedures.

30. The new system will embrace examinations which involve the sharing of responsibility for syllabus construction and assessment procedures, in varying proportions, between boards and schools. At one extreme will be wholly external or 'board-based' examinations (sometimes known as 'Mode I' examinations) with the board responsible for both syllabus and the examination; at the other end of the spectrum will be 'school-based' examinations (known as 'Mode III' examinations), with the school responsible for the syllabus and examination with moderation by the board. In between will lie 'mixed-mode' examinations, in which responsibility for both syllabuses and assessment procedures is shared between boards and schools; there are already a number examinations of this kind. It will be important, to ensure the confidence of employers and others responsible for subsequent courses of education in both types of examination, that the same national criteria should apply to all the examinations.

31. The Steering Committee's report outlines a number of general criteria which should apply to all the main subjects and refers also to the need for specific criteria relating to particular subjects. The Government agree with the report's findings on these matters and consider that publicly known general criteria should be established to ensure that:

i. syllabuses in subjects important for subsequent stages of education or of vocational relevance have sufficient in common, and are relevant.' to the needs of subsequent courses of education and employment, enable the grades awarded to be accepted with confidence by concerned; and

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ii. at least one board-based syllabus should be provided by each authority in all commonly taken subjects together with board-based assessment.
32. Criteria applying to particular subjects, especially those which are widely used in selection processes for subsequent education and employment, will need to reflect the report's findings and further development work, subject by subject, about the suitability of different forms and techniques of examining. The Government will expect national criteria to ensure that alternative papers are used wherever this is necessary to maintain standards and to ensure that the examinations, whatever their form, reflect special characteristics of particular subjects and the needs of pupils of higher and lower abilities.

33. These necessary national co-ordination arrangements will involve a range of new functions which have not hitherto been carried out centrally. The present structure of the Schools Council reflects its existing, more limited, co-ordinating functions; but it is responsible for advising the Secretaries of State on examinations policy, and the close relationship between curriculum and examinations reflected in its terms of reference is of undiminished importance. The Education Departments will discuss with the Schools Council and other interested parties how suitable machinery should be evolved for the new co-ordinating function. Strong representation of the various levels of education (schools, colleges and universities) and of the other major interests concerned with examinations will be required.

34. The Government agree with the Steering Committee that an annual report should be made to the Secretaries of State by the central co-ordinating body. This would enable the Secretaries of State regularly to review progress towards the introduction of the new system, and its operation once established. The Secretaries of State expect to be able to continue to authorise officers of their Departments to counter-sign examination certificates as at present.

COST

35. The cost of the GCE O-Ievel and CSE examinations is met by the boards' revenue from fees which are paid, for the most part, by local education authorities on behalf of pupils in maintained schools and colleges. There is, however, some element of subsidy, in the form of buildings, equipment and services made available to the GCE boards by universities and, to a lesser extent, to the CSE boards by local authorities. In addition there are 'hidden' and not easily identifiable costs of examining, the main element here being the cost of teachers' time which is not paid for by a board; this arises chiefly in the case of school-based (Mode III) examinations.

36. The Steering Committee undertook a detailed study of examining board costs and concluded that, had a single system been running in 1976, the most recent year for which figures were available, it might have cost between 0.5 million less and 3.5 million more than the dual GCE and CSE systems, although it seemed very unlikely that the cost would have reached the higher figure. The Government accept that the introduction of a single system may lead to some increase in the cost of examining at least in the short term, but in the longer run the formation of the proposed examining groups may be expected to lead to administrative and other savings which could well outweigh any initial extra operating costs. It is moreover difficult to distinguish between the likely cost effects of introducing a single system and those of a number of other


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important factors which will affect the work of the boards over the next few years. The influence of future falling secondary school rolls on candidate numbers and economic pressures on rates of payment by boards to teachers and examiners could well have a greater impact than the introduction of a common system.

37. The maximum once and for all cost of changing to a single system was estimated by the Steering Committee at about 0.5 million per annum over a period of three years. Most of this would be due to the difference between the cost of normal syllabus renewal and development by the existing boards and the greater cost of developing a full range of new syllabuses within a fairly short period. The Government agree with the Steering Committee that development of syllabuses for a single system is in practice likely to be spread over a period longer than three years and the additional cost in any one year reduced accordingly. It seems doubtful whether all the new syllabuses which will eventually be required could be produced over a period of three years, during which time priority will need to be given to syllabuses in certain main subjects.

38. Comments on the Steering Committee's report have included the point that preparing for and operating a single system will make additional demands on teachers and others. The Government recognise this and the Secretaries of State will take it into account in setting a target date for the introduction of the new system; it will clearly be important to work to a timetable which makes allowance for constraints on teachers' time and other resources. The Government consider that, in general, fees should continue to be the main method of meeting the cost of examining including syllabus development. During the exceptional period leading up to the introduction of the system, however, it may be necessary to follow the precedent established by the Schools Council and the present examining boards in financing jointly the experimental joint 16 plus examinations already held. The Government, which, with the local education authorities, fund the Schools Council will for their part be prepared to consider the implications of this in negotiations for the Council's annual grant in aid.




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III THE NEXT STEPS

THE FORMATION OF THE NEW EXAMINING AUTHORITIES

39. Although the Education Departments and the central co-ordinating body will have important parts to play in preparing for the introduction of the new system, the detailed administrative planning and the development of new syllabuses and examinations will, of course, fall to the permanent staffs of the examining boards and the teachers and others who participate in their work. As a preliminary to this work it will be necessary to form the groups of boards recommended by the Steering Committee, to ensure that the system is built on the professional expertise of both GCE and CSE boards and planned from the outset within a permanent administrative framework.

40. The Government propose to initiate discussions with the existing boards in the near future, as a first step towards the formation of examining groups based on the principles mentioned in paragraphs 19-26 above. In the case of Wales, the Welsh Office will be holding talks with the Welsh Joint Education Committee, under whose aegis both GCE O-Ievels and CSE examinations are already provided. The Department of Education and Science will discuss the application of these principles to the situation in England with the other GCE and CSE boards. To preserve the flexibility and scope for some differences between groups to meet local needs, the boards will be invited to draw up proposals on the basis of negotiations between themselves. It is important that attention should be paid, in this work, to the implications of proposals for the employment prospects of existing staff. The services of the Department of Education and Science will be available to the boards to provide further information and guidance or, if necessary, assistance in reaching agreement on the formation of examining groups.

41. The Secretaries of State expect to be able to consider outline proposals for examining groups by July 1979. The proposals will need to indicate in broad terms how the principles referred to above are to be applied; they will in particular have to show the territories covered by each of the groups and the composition of their controlling bodies. Although it may prove easier in some cases than in others to reach agreement on the composition and constitution of these new examining authorities, the Secretaries of State will not be able to extend recognition to any one of them until satisfactory proposals have been received for all. They will need to ensure, for example, that the territories cover the whole country yet do not overlap; and although there may well be variations in their constitutions and methods of functioning to meet local circumstances, certain common features will be needed to ensure public confidence in the national comparability of the examinations.

THE FORMATION OF THE CENTRAL CO-ORDINATING BODY

42. Once the Secretaries of State have recognised the examining authorities they will be in a position to work out in greater detail their structure and methods of operation. Some development work on syllabuses and examinations will no doubt be taking place meanwhile, building in some cases on earlier joint 16 plus examinations offered by boards within a group, but it seems probable that most of this work will have to be initiated after the groups have determined in some detail their structure and methods of work. The central co-ordinating body


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discussed in paragraphs 27-34 will be required at the same time and the Government consider that this should be established well before the end of 1979. It must be in a position to reach agreement with the examining groups on the co-ordination of their development work so that the main areas identified by the Steering Committee as needing further study and experiment are covered. It will also need to develop, in agreement with the groups, the general and subject-specific criteria which should apply to syllabuses and assessment procedures (see paragraph 31). The Education Departments will, therefore, open discussions about the composition and constitution of the necessary central co-ordinating body with the Schools Council and the examining boards in the near future.

THE INTRODUCTION OF THE NEW SYSTEM

43. The Steering Committee took the view that the new system should be introduced at the same time throughout England and Wales, and that the new syllabuses might be introduced in 1983, leading to the award of the new certificates in 1985. The Government agree that the new system should come into operation throughout England and Wales at the same time. It is not possible at present, however, to assess the practicability of the dates suggested by the Steering Committee, and the Government are aware of differences of view both inside and outside the education service on the length of time needed to make satisfactory preparations for the new system. The examining groups and the central co-ordinating body must be formed first; the groups must then plan their own development programmes and the central co-ordinating body arrange for the co-ordination of this development work and secure agreement on criteria. The Government are determined that the preparations should be carried forward without delay, and propose to set a target date for the introduction of the new system after the new examining groups and the central co-ordinating body have been established. The Government will, however, want to be sure that sufficient development work can be satisfactorily completed in good time before finally authorising the introduction of the new system on a specified date.




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ANNEX

GCE O-LEVEL AND CSE EXAMINATION BOARDS ENTRIES FOR 1976
(ENGLAND AND WALES)*

*Drawn from data provided by examining boards for the Cost Study Group of the Waddell Committee.