Meddling politicians have undermined the credibility of GCSEs and A-levels, a leading headmaster has said.
Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School in Wimbledon, south London, said today’s exams are “no longer good enough”, with “boring” syllabuses and too much emphasis on “mindless” coursework.
King’s College, a private boys’ school, came second in today’s GCSE league tables, based on data from the Independent Schools Council.
In total, 34 out of 153 boys achieved ten A or A* grades.
The best-performing West Midlands school was King Edward VI High School for Girls, in Birmingham, which was placed seventh in the national rankings.
Mr Halls congratulated his students on their results, but said the school was beginning to move away from GCSEs. For the first time this summer, his students sat international GCSEs in the three sciences.
He said: “We are increasingly moving away from standard GCSEs with a sense of sadness, frankly they are no longer good enough. At A-level and GCSE there are so many top grades that they’re not proving fit for purpose.”
“We do iGCSEs in maths and now the three sciences. We are getting very very good results. For the teachers and the boys it is better, the contents are more full and interesting and there is less emphasis on mindless coursework.”
Mr Halls said the school would be looking at the new GCSE specifications, announced by England’s exams regulator Ofqual for first teaching next year, but said it was unlikely they would return to the traditional qualifications.
If anything, he said, it was likely that the school would look at introducing more iGCSEs in the future.
He said: “We will be looking at the new specifications. But we have now had 10, 15, 20 years of constant change to the public exam system and very few of those changes have been for the better.”
He added there was little chance that the British government “whatever its colour” would stop interfering in the exams system.
“Because of the meddling of populist politicians the system is becoming less credible,” Mr Halls said.
Mr Halls said he did not want to take anything away from the pupils themselves who had worked hard for their results.
But he said: “The subject content has diminished and it is more boring.”
He added: “I wish it wasn’t the case but it is.”
King Edward VI school, a co-educational school in Southampton, topped today’s GCSE league table of independent schools.
Headmaster Julian Thould said part of the school’s success was that the pupils “spark off each other and encourage each other”.
The figures do not include the results of more than 50 leading private schools which have taken the unprecedented action of boycotting the tables this year.
St Paul’s and the world-famous Eton College are among those which have refused to release their examination results, claiming the rankings are meaningless and skew the education system.
The tables, based on GCSE exam results from 552 fee-paying schools, show that 28.5 per cent of entries achieved grade A*, up from 26.7 per cent last year. The national average is 6.8 per cent.
And 59.2 per cent entries were graded A* or A, up from 57.3 per cent last year. The national average is 20.7 per cent.
Barbara Harrison, chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), which had eight schools in the top 25, said she was “delighted” with the results.
She said: “Our students do so well at GCSE because GDST schools offer tremendous ‘added value’ as part of a broad, all-round education.
“Schools have the flexibility to choose the most appropriate courses for their own students, which include International GCSEs, and all our schools offer separate sciences and a wide variety of languages.
“Students therefore have the flexibility to pursue a wide range of subjects and interests at GCSE - enabling some girls to take special interest GCSEs a year early if they want - before specialising at sixth form.”