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Making the Switch

Could Britain's traditional GCSE exams be replaced? Some schools prefer alternative courses for students, discovers School House's Sally Jones, and King's High is helping to lead the way.

King's High School, Warwick. An excited throng of festively dressed Year 11 girls and their parents walk along the red carpet into the school's theatre, many nibbling popcorn, en route to a special performance. It may look like the premiere of some Hollywood blockbuster or a Prom night treat; it is in fact the school's gala showcase for one of its newly introduced alternatives to GCSEs.

The audience watches, rapt, as several lively, thought-provoking films on different aspects of global citizenship, social justice or climate change are screened. All have been crafted by different students as part of their school-assessed qualification known as the Global Changemaker Programme.

The young film-makers' vivid faces tell their own story. The project has clearly sparked their imaginations, providing a welcome antidote to stressful hours spent imbibing and then regurgitating facts in an exam hall.

'It's brilliant', enthuses 16-year-old Bethany. 'Making these films, we've had to research the stories behind real global issues on a deeper level than we've ever done before. It's been a massive eye-opener, discovering the depth of problems some people are facing around the world - and exploring possible solutions to them'.

King's High is one of the growing number of independent schools questioning the value of GCSEs as an effective assessment tool and designing radical replacements.

Read the article in full below and you'll find 'Making the Switch' on pages 44-45.