The government published its consultation on the reform of GCSE exams on 17 September. The main proposals are as follows:
- Qualifications will be linear with assessment done at the end of the course. The government’s preferred option is to have 100 per cent external exams, with no or very minimal coursework and controlled assessment, although there is a recognition that there will need to be some flexibility about practical work.
- Tiered exams are to be abolished.
- The new qualifications will be rolled out first in English, maths and sciences, for teaching in 2015 and first exams in 2017. Exams in history, geography and modern languages will follow, to a timescale yet to be determined. Ofqual will be asked to look at a similar format for other GCSE subjects.
- The qualifications will be called English Baccalaureate Certificates.
- The government will hold a competition to choose a single suite of qualifications in each of the English Baccalaureate subjects, offered by a single awarding body.
- There is a recognition that there will need to be special/enhanced provision for students who aren’t ready for these exams at 16. The consultation acknowledges that this will make additional demands of school sixth forms and colleges to support these students to succeed in mathematics and English.
- Students who are not entered for the Ebacc qualifications, for a variety of reasons, should be provided with a ‘Statement of Achievement’ by their school, hatwhich sets out their strengths and weaknesses in each subject.
- From 2017, floor targets will take account of the English, maths and sciences exams.
- The government will set out broad expectations for the subject content it considers absolutely essential, working with subject associations and others to develop “appropriate content”. Awarding bodies should build upon this by working directly with higher education institutions and ‘learned societies’ to create syllabi that “provide excellent preparation for further study at A Level, in apprenticeships or in vocational qualifications”.
- The new qualification should provide greater assurance of literacy and numeracy in English language and mathematics, than a C grade in the current GCSE.
- Awarding bodies submitting qualifications will need to demonstrate how they will minimise the administrative burden imposed on schools and post-16 institutions.
The full consultation document can be found at https://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/departmentalinformation/consultations/a00213902/reforming-key-stage-4-qualifications