A SCHOOL concerned that GCSEs have become 'tired’ and 'too tick-boxy' has created its own alternative qualification.

St Edward’s School in Summertown will introduce new courses next year called Pathways and Perspectives, for learners aged 14-16.

Pupils will still study GCSEs but will cut down from 11 to eight from September, and will take at least two of the new courses in addition.

Stephen Jones, warden (headteacher) of the private school, told the Oxford Mail: “We’ve ended up with a moderately old-fashioned system.

“We don’t believe GCSEs are very good preparation either for sixth form or degree courses.

“We believe we can do it better our own way - exam boards have made the flagship assessment too ‘tick-boxy’.

“This is very exciting for us and I’m certain this is going to produce a far better education for our pupils.”

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St Edward's in Woodstock Road, better known as Teddies, currently teaches GCSEs, A-Levels and the International Baccalaureate.

The Pathways courses will be in broad disciplines ranging from applied science to jewellery design, while the Perspectives courses cover humanities subjects such as global societies and big ideas (philosophy and ethics).

Both have been validated by the University of Buckingham and some pupils will visit university departments as part of their studies, to gain a deeper understanding of subjects.

They will be graded using the same format as the reformed GCSEs, from 1-9, and pupils will be continually assessed on skills such as communication and teamwork instead of just exams.

Mr Jones said: “People are interested in real education in a modern sense.

“It’s about what the right thing is for pupils and having the guts and the confidence to go and do it.”

The head said he has several criticisms of GCSEs and that recent reforms have merely served to ‘tidy up [the system] and almost make it more old-fashioned’.

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He added: “The examinations are looking pretty tired and the criteria for marks is not necessarily intellectual or sensible educationally.

“We want our pupils to have collaborative learning and experiential learning.”

He also said the grading of GCSEs was ‘scandalous’ in the discrepancies between markers and between exam board, which he said have become ‘totally out of kilter’.

The new qualifications will broaden the scope for study of subjects such as robotics, astronomy and medicine.

Matthew Albrighton, deputy head academic at the school in Woodstock Road, said: “While GCSEs in their current form provide foundational knowledge for sixth form, they can constrain pupils’ curiosity, limit their ambition and prevent them from grappling with big ideas.

“They do not stretch pupils enough in the full range of skills.”

Despite the government’s reforms to make GCSEs more rigorous, some critics say they are still not fit for purpose.

Private schools do not have to follow the national curriculum and several, including Sevenoaks School in Kent and Bedales School in Hampshire, have already introduced GCSE alternatives.