Michael Gove told the Commons he is to launch a consultation to introduce “world-class qualifications”. His statement was trailed by press reports that he intents to abolish GCSE's for "tougher" exams at 16.
“We want a curriculum which prepares all children for success, at 16 and beyond, by broadening what is taught in our schools and improving how it is assessed," Mr Gove said.
“A state school system in which every child is challenged to do much better, where there are no excuses for failure, where every child is introduced to the best… and given every opportunity to achieve their utmost."
AQA currently awards 49% of full course GCSEs and 42% of A-levels nationally.
A spokesman indicated that having seen these reports they will need to see the detail of proposals before they can comment fully.They recognise the need for qualifications like GCSEs to evolve and have developed the iGCSE which appears to share many of the features these proposals favour.
AQA added that whatever the detail of any proposals their focus will be on ensuring that the transition to new qualifications is as smooth as possible for students, teachers and schools.
Ofqual, the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, said:
"We know ministers are considering the suite of secondary education qualifications including A levels and GCSEs, and looking closely at the exam board market.
"For our part, we have been strengthening GCSEs and we are consulting on changes we want to make to A levels. If ministers decide to make more significant changes to the qualifications to be taught in schools, our role as the regulator will be to give ministers advice on how to make the transition - the building blocks that will need to be in place, and the timing so that risks are managed. We will also advise on how to monitor and secure standards under any new regime.
"In the meantime we will continue our work to oversee the current qualifications including the safe delivery of results this summer."