Reacting to the independent review published by Sir Richard Sykes, Michael Gove, the Conservative Shadow Education Minister, says we need to restore confidence in the qualifications and assessment system.

The review argues that the current system diverts the attention of teachers and students from a proper immersion in deep subject knowledge by tempting them to sit exams purely to boost league table rankings.

Gove said he was “immensely grateful” to Sir Richard and his team for their work. “Their report will help in the battle to restore confidence in our curriculum and testing system”.

“I agree with many of the review team’s arguments”, he said. “We need to ensure children pursue qualifications because of their intrinsic value, not because they help schools to game the system”.

Sir Richard fears that teachers have been “forced to abandon education (in its truest sense) for easily measurable proxies”.

His review sets out recommendations which will “restore the usefulness of qualifications to universities and employers, and therefore to pupils” as well as “increase the time available and the freedom enjoyed by schools and teachers to teach and stretch their pupils, and restore confidence in the assessment skills and judgement of teachers and schools, and the standards achieved by our secondary schools”.

Gove added that he agreed with the need to reform A Levels “by giving universities a stronger role in guaranteeing quality”, and with the need to reform the way schools are held accountable for the performance of children at the age of 16, “so schools are no longer tempted to enter students for qualifications merely to inflate league table rankings”.

“Critically”, he added, “I think we also need to see how we can develop a much sharper focus on what happens to students when they leave school”.

“Destination data, which tells us if students are moving into high quality apprenticeships, satisfying jobs or good college and university courses, will give parents real world information about how well schools are doing.”

Click here to download the Review