On Friday 12 July, Ofqual published an open letter to schools in England which summarised some of the key changes being made to GCSEs and A Levels.
The key changes outlined in Ofqual’s letter are:
Science: new science GCSEs in biology, chemistry, physics, additional science and additional applied science will be awarded for the first time this summer. According to the letter, these are “designed to be more challenging”, and Ofqual expects “a small drop in achievements overall”.
Geography, history and English literature: new specifications in these subjects to be introduced in schools from September 2013.
English: Ofqual will confirm its plans to remove the contribution of speaking and listening tests to the overall grade, for introduction after summer 2014, before the autumn term starts.
Longer term: linear assessments, the end of tiering (unless it is the best assessment option), restricted use of non-exam assessments and the use of a 1 to 8 scale in place of the current grading system. It proposes new qualifications in English language, English literature, mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, science (double award), geography and history, to be ready for teaching from September 2015 and for first awarding in summer 2017.
Ofqual’s consultation on longer term changes to GCSEs runs till 3 September 2013.
January assessments: from September 2013, there will no longer be an opportunity to sit exams in January. All units will be examined in the summer.
Longer term: linear assessments and a standalone AS that will not contribute to a full A Level. It proposes A Levels with revised content in mathematics and further mathematics, English (language, literature, language and literature), physics, chemistry, biology, geography, history, psychology, art and design, business studies, computing, economics, and sociology, for first teaching from September 2015 and first awarding in summer 2017.
You can keep up to date on information about the reform of GCSEs and A Levels on the OCR website. You can also sign up for email updates on A Level and GCSE reform.