GCSEs axe sparks row at Doncaster schools

De Warenne Academy in Conisbrough
De Warenne Academy in Conisbrough

Parents with children studying at schools belonging to a Doncaster academy trust have spoken out over new rules which mean each student must drop a GCSE subject.

The requirement has been introduced at both Ash Hill Academy, at Hatfield, and De Warenne Academy, in Conisbrough, sparking concerns from parents that children are being ‘short-changed’ in their education.

Both academies belong to the School Partnership Academies Trust, which is the biggest academies trust in Yorkshire and is responsible for more than 40 schools.

One parent with a child at De Warenne Academy, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her daughter was given just a week to decide which of her GCSE subjects to lose.

She said: “She’s been working towards all of her GCSEs for a year and then she’s suddenly told she’s got to get rid of one after all of that work and effort.

“It’s completely unfair –they keep bringing in changes like this so quickly.”

She said pupils were sent letters notifying them of the move on a Monday, with a decision required by the Friday, and that parents were not informed.

“So now my daughter is going to finish school with one less GCSE than children at other schools, which could set her back. It’s like she’s being short-changed.

“They’ve also shortened the school day by 15 minutes, which doesn’t sound like a lot but over the course of a week that’s more than one lesson.”

Gareth Mason, the executive principal at De Warenne Academy, said: “In terms of the curriculum, 72 per cent of the current year 11s dropped an option at the beginning of the year, so they had more time in their subjects.

“As a result of this, we expect raised achievement in this summer’s examinations.”

Mr Mason added: “Children have the same lesson time as under the previous school day but we are creating the space to support them in after-school activities and clubs.”