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Engineering GCSE and A Level to be scrapped

Students in England will no longer be able to take GCSEs or A Levels in engineering if plans to radically overhaul the curriculum are approved.

Examination regulator Ofqual wants to scrap a total of 43 qualifications, including GCSEs in engineering, electronics and manufacturing.

All three, it says, overlap with the new design and technology curriculum. AS and A levels in engineering are also being discontinued for the same reason.

Under the new proposals, due to come into effect in 2017, all subjects which are similar to, or overlap other courses, will be revised to create new, tougher qualifications.

Even traditional subjects like English, maths, humanities, science and foreign languages are being revised.

Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey said: "We think it important that subject content is reviewed and updated as qualifications change, and we set out proposals for how we think that is best done for the remaining subjects. At the same time, there are subjects which we think would not meet the principles we have put forward, and which we propose should be discontinued.

"We also identify subjects where a decision is yet to be taken and it is for exam boards to choose whether they wish to redevelop them. We will expect exam boards to consider factors such as demand and merit before making a case to us that any subject they choose to develop can meet the standards we set."

Dr Rhys Morgan (pictured), The Royal Academy of Engineering's director of engineering and education, described the decision as 'regrettable'.

He said: "If, as is proposed, the design and technology GCSE replaces the engineering and manufacturing GCSEs then it is vital that the reformed design and technology qualifications include an explicit requirement for students to be assessed on rigorous engineering content.

"The success of the proposed reform will depend on securing the right teaching and facilities for design and technology, to ensure young people have the best chance of success and progression to technical careers."

Dr Morgan's concerns were shared by Paul Davies, head of policy at the IET, who stressed the 'vital' importance of studying STEM subjects at school age.

He commented: "If the engineering GCSE and A Level are to be dropped, how will young people know about engineering and then go on and study the subject?

"The government must recognise that qualifications such as the GCSE and A level in engineering will be at the heart of achieving improvements to the economy and supporting a pipeline of future apprentices, technicians and engineers."

Laura Hopperton

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