Ofqual - Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation

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Ofqual confirms changes to GCSEs

Changes to GCSEs for use in England – update on 29th June 2012

September 2012 – new GCSE geography qualifications

To date, three new GCSE geography qualifications have been accepted on to the Register of Regulated Qualifications – WJEC GCSE Geography Specification A, WJEC GCSE Geography Specification B and AQA GCSE Geography Specification A. All awarding organisations continue to review and amend their qualifications and we will provide updates on a regular basis as they are accepted on to the Register. If you would like further information on changes to particular qualifications please contact the awarding organisations directly.

September 2013 – new GCSE English literature and history qualifications

No new qualifications have been accepted on to the Register of Regulated Qualifications yet. We will provide updates on a regular basis but if you would like further information on particular qualifications please contact the awarding organisations directly.

 

Changes to GCSEs for use in England - update on 26th April 2012

Awarding organisations have almost finished reviewing their GCSE qualifications ready for the introduction of:

  • linear assessment for all two-year courses to be taught from September 2012
  • the separate assessment of spelling, punctuation and grammar in external examinations in English literature, history, geography and religious studies from January 2013.

Copies of these specifications, specimen assessment materials and details of the timeline for introduction are available on the websites of each awarding organisation.

Ofqual and its regulatory partners in Northern Ireland (CCEA), and Wales (the Welsh Government), have also asked awarding organisations to carry out a thorough review of their GCSE qualifications in English literature, geography and history. This is to ensure that there are no routes through a qualification that can cut down the expected course of study or the assessment requirements. All qualifications must make the teaching and learning requirements clear. These requirements must be supported by the assessment at an appropriate level of demand and the grading arrangements must reflect the standards set.

New GCSE qualifications will be available in English literature, geography and history. These changes are focused on strengthening the demands of the GCSE qualifications and ensuring that candidates achieving these qualifications are well prepared for progression to further study. These reforms have been organised to permit changes to teaching, learning and assessment to be introduced in a series of steps.

September 2012 – new GCSE geography qualifications

All awarding organisations will make new qualifications available ahead of the start of teaching in September 2012. These new qualifications will include linear assessment and the separate assessment of candidates’ performance in accurate spelling, punctuation and use of grammar.

Awarding organisations submitted their new qualifications to the regulators at the end of February and have received feedback on them. They are now carrying out further reviews and will confirm to their centres when their new qualifications have been accepted on to the Register of Regulated Qualifications. At this point they will also be accepted on to the DfE Section 96 list of qualifications eligible for teaching in maintained centres.

September 2013 – new GCSE English literature and history qualifications

All awarding organisations will make new qualifications available ahead of the start of teaching in September 2013. We have identified to awarding organisations our specific areas of concern. Awarding organisations will revise their current qualifications to address these concerns and submit new qualifications for our review over the coming months. Awarding organisations know they must provide centres with enough time for to prepare for any changes to teaching required by the new qualifications. We will provide a further update on this issue in June.

A timeline detailing the introduction of changes to GCSEs is shown below. The timeline is available to download in PDF format.

Notes:

 

Changes to GCSEs – update on January 27, 2012

Awarding organisations are currently revising GCSE qualifications ready for the introduction of linear assessment and, in the cases of English literature, history, geography and religious studies, the separate assessment of spelling, punctuation and grammar. The revised specifications will be submitted to the regulators for accreditation soon.

Given the suggestion that some GCSE qualifications may permit narrowing of the expected course of study, Ofqual, working with CCEA and DfES, are taking the opportunity to look closely at these revised specifications, to make sure that the standards set and the study requirements are what we expect.

The regulators will:

  • review all GCSE geography specifications and assessment materials. Awarding organisations must make sure that their specifications meet all of the regulatory requirements, make clear the full course of study required of candidates and that the assessment arrangements support this. Awarding organisations will be informed of accreditation decisions by Friday, April 20, at the latest.
  • review the current specifications for GCSE English literature, history and religious studies. Awarding organisations will be told by mid-February if there is any further action required to those qualifications before they can be accredited. We will provide a further update on this issue in mid-February.

Centres should be aware of the following:

  • For those candidates already embarked on a course of study for GCSEs in English literature, geography, history and religious studies and certificating in 2013 the only changes to specifications will relate to the separate assessment of spelling, punctuation and the accurate use of grammar in the examination papers. Awarding organisations will make revised specimen assessment materials available for the current qualifications to illustrate how the requirement for the separate assessment of spelling, punctuation and the accurate use of grammar will be addressed.
  • For courses beginning in September 2012 and candidates certificating in summer 2014, in addition to the introduction of linear assessment and the separate assessment of spelling, punctuation and grammar there may be revised specifications in GCSE geography together with changes to or fully revised specifications in GCSE English literature, history and religious studies.

We do recognise how important the timescales are in this work. We believe these arrangements represent a fair and proportionate approach to making sure that standards are maintained.

 

Ofqual confirms changes to GCSEs - December 2011

Ofqual can today confirm the changes that will be made to GCSEs in England for teaching from September 2012.

Changes are being made to GCSEs in order to implement the policy aims set out by the Department for Education in the 2010 White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching'.

As a result of the changes:

  • Assessment will take place at the end of the course of study

    • Assessment opportunities for the majority of subjects will be restricted to summer only
    • For English, English language and mathematics there will be an additional assessment opportunity in November
    • Any pilot qualifications that are exceptions to this arrangement will be separately identified
  • In GCSE English literature, geography, history and religious studies, additional marks will be awarded for the accuracy of spelling, punctuation and grammar in questions that require extended answers
  • Regulatory documents relating to these qualifications will be amended to reflect these changes

The timeline for these changes to be made is as follows:

  • Candidates will be required to take all GCSE assessments at the end of the course for awards made from summer 2014 onwards. This will affect all candidates starting two-year courses in September 2012.
  • Question papers in English literature, geography, history and religious studies with extra marks awarded for spelling punctuation and grammar will first be sat by candidates in January 2013.

Ofqual consulted on the changes between September 26 and November 4, 2011. A total of 1,261 responses were received. There was broad agreement to the approach set out in the consultation document. Download a summary of the responses.

Longer term changes to GCSEs will be made following the National Curriculum Review, which is currently on-going.

Also published today are the responses to a consultation on Ofqual’s powers through Section 96 of the Equality Act 2010 to make specifications about where reasonable adjustments to general qualifications should not be made. Download a summary of the responses.