BBC reported this (as did other news sources)
Tough new O-Levels to replace GCSEs under Gove plan
By Angela HarrisonEducation correspondent, BBC News
Education Secretary Michael Gove plans to scrap GCSEs for England and return to O-level style exams.
Sources have told the BBC that Mr Gove believes GCSEs "have gone beyond the point of rescue". The changes, planned to be brought in for pupils from autumn 2014, would amount to the biggest change to the exams system for a generation. Less academic pupils would sit a different "more straightforward" exam, like the old CSE.
Labour says Mr Gove must explain his changes to teachers and pupils. GCSEs replaced O-levels and CSEs in the mid-1980s. Now a similar system could return, although sources say the names of the new exams are yet to be decided. The details are in a leaked document seen by the Daily Mail which sources say are broadly correct.
As control of education in the UK is devolved, Mr Gove's plans are for England only. It will be up to Wales and Northern Ireland to decide whether to follow suit. In Scotland, pupils take Standard Grades and Highers rather than GCSEs and A-levels.
National curriculum - The plan is for students to begin studying for new tougher O-level style exams in English, maths and the sciences from September 2014. They would take their exams in 2016. So, pupils starting their GCSE courses in September 2013 could be the last to take them.
The leaked document also shows plans for the national curriculum at secondary level to be scrapped altogether, so that heads would decide what pupils should study. Already, the new academy schools, which are state-funded but semi-independent, do not have to follow the national curriculum. The document also says the government plans to scrap the traditional benchmark on which secondary schools in England are measured - the requirement for pupils to get five good GCSEs (grades A* to C) including maths and English.
Schools would continue to be measured on the government's new benchmark - the English Baccalaureate - which counts how many pupils in a school have good GCSEs in English, maths, two sciences, geography, history and a foreign language.
Exam boards - Another change suggested is that one exam board would be chosen to set the O-level style papers for English, maths and science - with all pupils taking the same exam. Currently, six exam boards design GCSEs and schools choose which board to use.
Mr Gove has previously said he believes this system has led to a "race to the bottom", where exam boards could be tempted to "dumb down" exam content so pupils scored higher marks. That has always been roundly rejected by the exam boards and by the previous Labour government.
According to the leaked document, the plan is to put the new proposals out for consultation in the autumn, so it is not definite they will happen. The government had already announced that it wanted to shake up GCSEs by returning to the system where most exams were taken after two years rather than in modules and those changes were already planned to affect pupils beginning their GCSE studies this autumn.
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said Mr Gove had to explain whether the change would really improve standards.
"When the Tories abolished O-levels and introduced GCSEs in the 1980s they said standards would rise. Now they say they've fallen," he said.
"If there is to be a major overhaul parents will want reassurance that the new system will enable all children to progress and reach their full potential."
As the news broke late on Wednesday there has been little reaction so far but some critics are saying the government plans to return to an "elitist system".
The Department for Education would not confirm the plans. A spokesman said: "We do not comment on leaked documents."