GCSE'S should be scrapped, according to a leading education minister.

Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, has called for major changes to the current schooling system, suggesting a wider range of subjects should be offered to children in secondary schools, with vocational training being offered alongside the traditional academic subjects.

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Mr Halfon is proposing an overhaul of the exam system in England, getting rid of GCSE’s and introducing a baccalaureate system to replace the current A-Levels with pupils taking final exams being at age 18.

Chris Brooksbank, Cumbria’s regional secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) has said the accountability system on which schools are judged needs to be reviewed as a whole, not just the exam system.

He said: “The reason young people are not being offered the courses they want, is because the structure is set up to point them towards certain types of subjects.

He explained that the current accountability system in schools works by scoring each school based on the number of pupils achieving set levels in certain subjects.

As a result of this, schools are being encouraged to point students towards those subjects which will score more highly as opposed to subjects they want to study.

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He said: “What we really need is for GCSEs, vocational studies and academic studies to be all made more widely available to children.

“Cuts to music, modern foreign, language, art subjects, engineering and workshop studies have all had an impact.

“Overall, the accountability system needs to be changed.

“This may mean some changes to the way exams work but real change is needed with the system by which schools are held accountable.”

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Andrew Wren, principle at Furness College, said: “There is clearly merit in a more holistic approach to 14-19 education where students can develop a broader range of skills which would prepare them for their next steps, be it into further or higher education, or into the workplace as an apprentice.

“Furness College offers both A level and vocational courses to post-16 students and we would welcome a move towards a broader academic offer, similar to that of the International Baccalaureate.

“However, it is important to understand that this would be a substantial change and many practical problems would need to be resolved if this were to be carried out successfully.”