The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog

RSS

Will Gove's new O-Levels teach you anything useful?

O-Level and GCSE Maths papers compared.

Students sit exams in Glasgow
To make exams "harder", useful skills could be lost. Photograph: Getty Images

 

What exactly might Gove’s plans to replace GCSEs (which he feels have "have gone beyond the point of rescue") mean for the content of exam papers?

Take a look at this 1968 O-Level Maths paper (word doc), where knowledge of logarithmic tables and factorisation would get you lots of marks:

Then see this, from the June 2011 Edexcel Higher Tier Maths calculator paper (pdf):

Gove wants to return to the O-Level model because they were "explicitly harder". But will the new exams do away with the kind of skills that are actually transferable to every day life, like how to work out the price of something or use a calculator?