GCSE and A level reform 2016
The curriculum of all secondary schools is being significantly reformed. The following is a summary of the changes which are taking place in the GCSE and A Level examinations systems.
- New GCSEs in English Literature, English Language and Mathematics began in September 2015 and will be first examined in summer 2017.
- New GCSEs for first teaching at Polesworth from September 2016 are: Geography, History, Biology, Chemistry Physics, Languages, Art and Design, Computer Science, Design and Technology, Drama, Dance, Music, Physical Education and Religious Studies.
Features of the new GCSEs
- A new 1-9 grading scale with 9 being the top level. Grade 5 is the equivalent of the top third of a current grade C and the lower two thirds of a grade B. Grade 4 is equivalent to the lower two thirds of a current C grade.
- A fully linear structure: no GCSEs have modular tests or unit tests. Exams take place in the summer term only.
- Very few subjects will have ‘Higher’ and ‘Foundation’ papers. For most subjects, students will all sit the same examinations.
- Exams are the preferred method of assessment, except where they cannot provide a valid assessment of the skills required. Generally speaking, GCSE students will sit more examinations and do less coursework than in previous years.
- November resits are possible for English Language and Mathematics only.
The new GCSE grading system
The new GCSEs will be awarded on the basis of grades 9-1 (with 9 being the highest grade). These will replace the previous A*-G grades. The older system has eight grades and the newer one has nine grades, so there is no direct equivalence between the two systems. The regulating body, Ofqual, has issued the following guidance:
- broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently achieve a grade C and above;
- broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 7 and above as currently achieve a grade A and above;
- broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 1 and above as currently achieve a grade G and above;
- grade 5 will be awarded to around the top third of students who would previously have attained a grade C and the bottom third of students who would previously have attained a grade B;
- grade 5 has been defined by the Department for Education as a “good pass grade”.
A level reform
- New A levels were introduced at Polesworth for first teaching in September 2015 and first assessment in summer 2017 in the following subjects: English Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Psychology, Art and Design, Business, Economics and Sociology.
- Other subjects have been reformed from September 2016. These are Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Geography, Languages, Design and Technology, Drama, Music, Physical Education and Religious Studies.
Features of the new A Levels
- The content of the new AS and A Levels has been determined with significant input from the universities
- Since September 2015, AS has been a standalone qualification.
- AS results no longer count towards an A level. Students sit their A Level examinations at the end of their two-year A Level course.
- Like the new GCSEs, both qualifications are linear, with AS assessments typically taking place after one year of study and A levels after two.
- The new AS and A Levels retain the A* to E grading scale (A to E for AS level)
- As with the new GCSEs exams are the preferred method of assessment, except where they cannot provide a valid assessment of the skills required. Generally speaking, AS and A Level students will sit more examinations and do less coursework than in previous years.
- The DfE assures us that grading standards will stay the same as in the previous qualifications.