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The evolution of the general certificate of secondary education to 1986

Turner, Christopher J. (1991) The evolution of the general certificate of secondary education to 1986. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The evolution of the G.G.S.E. was a phase both in the history of examinations and also in the social and political interaction of education with its environment. Each subject discipline has its own development. The turbulent development of modern languages appears to have experienced a more easily discernible phase of progression in the period approaching the G.G.S.E. than at other times over the century and more especially in the post-wax period; in fact 'languages' reached a greater spread of effective contact of the school population than ever before. Such an incidence of events merits .some attention even though alternative sequences were occurring in other subject disciplines. The G.G.S.E. followed in the tradition of the School Certificate, the G.G.E. and the G.S.E. yet it also mirrored major movements in British society and its expectation of public education. Competition became paramount. Differentiation resolved, somewhat, the problems of a common system for the high and low achievers. The irony was that the G.C.S.E. suited the comprehensive schools but the comprehensive schools did not suit everybody. The teaching profession, whilst trying to deal vrith this problem sensitively, felt its national profile deteriorate. These fundamental changes took place at a time of growing concern over the education system. Yet fundamental changes in society were the key to fundamental changes in education. Languages, throughout, democratized down the hierarchy of learning; other subjects followed the pattern. World War II had polarized for languages a pacific, literature-civilization from a message-communication. These became the opposing sides of the battleground, the victory being a merger of the two. This century's main lost soul of the curriculum found its resting-place in G.G.S.E. practicability'. The post-war extension to the whole ability range forced a lonesome mental introversion. Sound experienced psychoanalysis and therapy by the subject association with basic guidance from the examination boards brought restoration to a new state of health. In fact restoratives primarily for the low achiever had been vital. The new government in 1979 encouraged practicality and usefulness of school subjects. Having advised throughout, the subject associations, like others, took the initiative in the teachers' cold war lull, to sound out true opinion (which could not be done publicly due to the intractability of positions) and made recommendation to the government. The contribution of the low achiever was finally acknowledged. The subject associations, uniquely, were in a position to test opinion and act with speed. The disappearance of Ordinary Level and Grammar Schools had proved a strong brake, yet the post World War II period up to the 1980s was inevitably between staging posts of major educational reform and nothing was to stop the G.G.S.E. being by accident or design the frontrunner of a series of reforms. The sources for this study have been the professional literature and reviews underpinned by personal interviews with relevant and representative personnel.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1991
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Dec 2012 12:14

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