Thank you prh - that is interesting. I am not sure about the extended writing part - I guess that will be the same sort of thing as we did (3 questions posed and you can choose one to write an essay on). TBH I know so little about what GCSEs actually entail now that I find it hard to get a handle on all these changes which will in fact (it seems) return them to the type of exams we did (end of 2 years, many exam papers, answering long and short and essay style questions). I guess the worry is that if they fiddle around with league tables as well, it may have unintended (or intended) consequences on which options are offered in schools, which children take which subjects and how many subjects they are allowed to study.
tiggytape the worry is that if we roll the clock back, we will roll it back to the majority of children leaving schools with inferior or no qualifications.
We will also end up with a situation that if you were born before 1998 but after about 1976? (or maybe earlier) you will have qualifications that seem much higher than those given to people born outside those dates. If nothing has changed except the title of the exam, it will also be very hard to distinguish those who gained their qualifications in the "easy" years from the rest.