Saturday, 2 November 2013

GCSEs Set For 2015 Revamp

Glenys Stacey from Ofqual
(Image from TES)
This week Ofqual have released more details about the new curricula for maths and English, when the GCSEs are revamped for first teaching in the year 2015 at the insistence of Education Secretary Michael Gove. Other subjects will be given the same treatment the following year. These will be the biggest changes to GCSE since their inception in the late 1980s. Pupils now in their second year will be the first to take the new GCSE.

Glenys Stacey from Ofqual pointed out that the most important changes in the new GCSE will be the new content in each subject. In addition to this:

- There will be only one exam, which will take place at the end of the two years of study;
- Grades will be awarded from 1 to 9 (with 9 the highest). With one more grade available than in the current system, this allows for more differentiation at the top end.
- There will be less coursework in most subjects (and probably none in maths);
- There will be a complete end to modular GCSEs.

Stacey says that the new GCSE will allow pupils to gain a real confidence and competence in each subject. She also expressed confidence that these would be the last big changes to the GCSE for a significant number of years, giving more certainty and stability to the exam system for both schools and pupils.

In the maths GCSE, pupils will be expected to memorise many more formulae, such as the quadratic formula, the sine and cosine rules. Until now, these have been provided on the formula sheet.

These changes only apply to the set of GCSEs offered by the English exam boards. The exam boards in Wales and Northern Ireland are not obliged to follow suit. If the GCSE in these parts of the UK remain as they stand, the divergence from England will become significant, with the qualifications having little in common but the name.

Are you a teacher or a pupil? What do you think of the proposed changes to the maths GCSE? Let us know by email or comment on this post.

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