Parents angry as kids sit their GCSEs at 13

ANGRY parents have hit out at Calder High School for “forcing their children to make life-changing decision at 13.”

The row surrounds the Mytholmroyd school’s controversial policy, brought in this year, that allows Year 9 pupils to take GCSE modules – three years before they would normally sit the exams.

Around 80 parents met school governors last week and spoke of their anger at an alleged lack of consultation from the school.

Some also intimated they would stop their children from taking the exams early.

A spokesman for the “No Early GCSEs Group”, which was set up by parents to protest against the curriculum changes the school has made, said: “All the exams are designed for 16-year-olds and pupils just aren’t mature enough at 13 and 14.

“These three years are incredibly important and this is having a disastrous effect on their self-esteem, confidence and expectations.

“Some universities don’t accept re-sits as genuine grades and so this could have a serious effect on their chances of getting into a top university.

“They’re 13 and having their life chances ruined.”

However, the school has defended its new three-year curriculum and said it was done to “provide greater choice and better opportunities for students to develop to their full potential”.

Chairman of Calder High School governors Rob Goode said: “The governors have listened to and considered parental concerns but remain convinced that the new curriculum represents a substantial improvement on the previous scheme.

“Unfortunately, new government policies mean there will need to be significant changes to the curriculum next year, and the school is now developing a policy in response to these national changes.”

Under the Education Bill 2011, which was passed on November 15, the current module system – where children sit an exam at the end of a block of learning – is to be replaced by a system of final-year exams from September 2012.

This means that next year no Year 9 pupils at Calder High will be able to take GCSEs.

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said: “As everyone knows, each child is different and I don’t believe an en masse block approach will address the academic needs of each child.”

No senior member of staff at Calder High was available for comment.