Here are the new changes to GCSE exams



Courtesy Independent

The Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual announced changes in the content and structure of GCSEs taken by students in schools across England in 2013 and the first set of exams are set to take place in the summer of 2017.

However, the changes have received some criticism. Laura McInerney, editor of the education newspaper Schools Week, says,  “the signs of catastrophe are already there” and the “radical transformation” has not been sitting well with both parents and teachers.

According to leading UK awarding body OCR, one of the main structural features of the new GCSEs confirmed by Ofqual – England’s qualifications and exams regulator – includes a new grading scale.

The new grading scale will replace the traditional A* to G grading system – to, a numerical system, using numbers 1 to 9 identify levels of performance, with 9 being at the top end of the scale. Students whose performance is less than the minimum required to pass a GCSE, will receive a ‘U’.

However, writing in The Guardian, McInerney said the Government designed this system: “This will make it difficult for employers and universities to compare candidates in the next few years.”

Further, a recent report from leading advisory board   CentreForum has warned the proportion of students who will achieve a ‘good pass’ in their GCSEs could fall by around 23 per cent under the new numerical system, reported Schools Week.

The second change is regarding regarding course content, which according to DfE, will become more challenging and will see all subjects – including English literature, maths, and history – toughen-up.

One of the more “positive” changes, however, said McInerney, is that schools will not be ranked according to the number of students getting five or more A* to C GCSE grades. Instead, secondary schools will use a ‘progress’ score entitled Progress 8.

According to the DfE: “It is a type of value added measure, which means pupils’ results are compared to the actual achievements of other pupils with the same prior attainment.” But, according to McInerney, even this may be difficult to digest as working out some difficult-to-establish figures will make the process “fiendishly complicated.”

Despite reservations regarding the new changes revealed in a survey, Ofqual, seems keen on reflecting on the positive side of things.

Speaking of the survey’s results at the time of their release, chief regulator at Ofqual, Glenys Stacey, said: “These data show the perceptions of those closest to the education system. There are many positives in this release, most importantly that GCSEs and A-levels continue to be trusted by the vast majority of those who rely on these qualifications.


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