Alternatives to GCSEs

Pleasing to see that Sevenoaks are following our lead in seeking alternatives to GCSEs. Interesting also that it is the paucity of choice and lack of ambition in the GCSE English Literature that their head, Katy Ricks, focuses on in the article in the Telegraph. Talking with English Department colleagues here yesterday, am reminded how hugely advantaged any sixth form student is who starts on their AS English course having studied 10 significant literary works – and written proper essays on them – rather than having merely encountered the dreary texts that make up the prescribed literary sphere of reference of the nation’s young –  the unambitious round of Journey’s End, Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird. Especially at a time when there is much discussion about how GCSEs might be reformed, it feels very good to have taken these moves some time ago (2006) and now to be largely in the IGCSE and BAC camp, ploughing our own (demanding, but interesting and productive) furrow.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales School


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.