So just to sum up:
Michael Gove thinks that the GCSE has become dumbed down (which it has) and that having five exam boards competing to see who can offer the easiest papers has resulted in 'a race to the bottom' (which is also true- what else would you expect competition in this area to do?)
He proposes going back to the old system of more rigorous O Levels for the academic kids and more basic CSE exams and presumably vocational courses for the rest. The National Curriculum would be abolished.
Nick Clegg is furious at all this and has been phoning up from his hotel in Rio where he was sent to get rid of him for a bit.
These proposals raise a lot of questions which of course are too difficult for me to answer.
It's an awful lot of upheaval. Teachers have been messed about a great deal in recent years with course changes, constant new initiatives, alterations to the syllabus, new approved methods of teaching and marking, Ofsted etc etc. There would be some disruption for the kids but not too much.
Would the non academic kids really be given the resources to learn useful vocational skills. This isn't going to be cheap, but it is vital.
There would be lots of blather about a 'two tier education system' which of course we have already with private schools, good state schools and bad ones. Fashionable newspaper columnists and people paid to talk on Newsnight would go on and on about 'social mobility' and 'a return to the 1950s'.
Why not just make the GCSE harder (with just one exam board) and bring in serious, respected and properly funded vocational courses as well? If we throw out the prevailing idea that we are somehow all academically equal and everyone must pass whatever exam they sit, then we just might halt the decline in academic standards over the last 25 years and at the same time, produce some employable young adults. (Although I suppose in reality, this is exactly what Michael Gove is actually proposing, but without changing the name of the exams).