Government set to scrap engineering exams in schools

Engineering exams are to be axed from English schools under proposals announced today.

Pupils will no longer be able to take GCSEs or A Levels in engineering after 2017 if plans to scrap a total of 43 qualifications unveiled by examination regulator Ofqual go through.

GCSEs in manufacturing and electronics will also be scrapped under the proposals, although related design and technology qualifications will still allow students to design and make electronic and mechanical components.

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s director of engineering and education, Dr Rhys Morgan, said the decision was regrettable.

‘However, the Royal Academy of Engineering has already driven forward challenging and rigorous new GCSE-equivalent vocational qualifications in engineering, for first teaching in September 2014.

‘If, as is proposed, the Design and Technology GCSE replaces the Engineering and Manufacturing GCSEs then it is vital that the reformed design and technology qualifications include an explicit requirement for students to be assessed on rigorous engineering content.’

He added: ‘The success of the proposed reform will depend on securing the right teaching and facilities for design and technology, to ensure young people have the best chance of success and progression to technical careers.’

Paul Davies, head of policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), was more sceptical about the move.

‘If the engineering GCSE and A Level are to be dropped, how will young people know about engineering and then go on and study the subject?’ he said.

‘The Government must recognise that qualifications such as the GCSE and A Level in engineering will be at the heart of achieving improvements to the economy and supporting a pipeline of future apprentices, technicians and engineers.’

A total of 1,816 pupils sat the GCSE in engineering in 2012, 1,046 took electronics and 105 took manufacturing. At A Level, 225 pupils studied engineering.

Other GCSEs facing the axe include digital communication, expressive arts, electronics, film studies, humanities, applied science and environmental science.