This notice has been updated to confirm arrangements for GCSE Sciences.
This September sees the launch of the second tranche of reformed GCSE (9–1), AS and A Levels qualifications. If your centre is teaching a two-year GCSE, AS or A Level, or a one-year AS Level course in the 2016/17 academic year in any of the tranche 2 subjects, you need to be aware of the changes.
The following provides an overview of the changes for schools, colleges and training providers in Northern Ireland from September 2016.
What is changing from September 2016?
Subjects that are changing for centres in Northern Ireland from September 2016 are:
Following the announcement by the Minister of Education in Northern Ireland in June 2016, reversing an earlier decision about 9–1 graded GCSEs, OCR are now able to offer most of our new GCSE (9–1) qualifications to learners in Northern Ireland.
In addition to our new GCSE (9–1) qualifications developed for first teaching from this September, OCR developed new GCSE (9–1) in English Literature and Mathematics for first teaching from September 2015. We have been committed to providing exams in summer 2017 and resits in November 2017 to those centres already delivering OCR specifications for these qualifications and are delighted that we can now offer these qualifications to future cohorts of learners. This includes learners commencing their GCSE studies in English Literature and Mathematics from September 2016.
Exception: GCSE Sciences
The Department of Education in Northern Ireland has advised that GCSE Science qualifications must include the assessment of practicals. However, the new GCSE (9–1) Science qualifications developed by awarding bodies for first teaching from September 2016 do not include the assessment of practical skills in the final grade. CCEA’s new reformed GCSE qualifications will not be available for first teaching until September 2017, creating a ‘gap year’ in 16/17. Information on which reformed specifications will meet requirements for Northern Ireland and when they will be available from can be found on the QualsNI section of the CCEA website. Centres currently delivering OCR GCSE Science specifications also have the option of switching to the current CCEA specifications this September (for assessment in 2018), then switching to the new CCEA specifications from September 2017 (for assessment in 2019 onwards). For further guidance on which GCSE Science specifications to teach this September contact CCEA.
Reminder: Legacy GCSE English Language
CCEA Regulators approved a one year extension for our current GCSE English Language (NI) J345 qualification, so that it could be taught in centres in September 2015. This was on the understanding that we would not provide any resit opportunity for NI candidates after the summer 2017 series, therefore the final assessment opportunity will be summer 2017. Please be aware that there will be a ‘gap’ year between the end of the OCR’s GCSE English Language (NI) J345 qualification and the start of the next CCEA iteration for first teaching in 2017 and first assessment in 2019. This means that any centres in NI that are continuing with our J345 specification until June 2017 will need to switch to the current CCEA GCSE English Language qualification this September in order to provide candidates with an assessment opportunity in 2018. This is due to the requirement in Northern Ireland for speaking and listening that contributes to the overall GCSE grade.
AS and A Levels
All of OCR’s AS and A Levels developed for first teaching in September 2016 are available to centres in Northern Ireland.
Reminder: Legacy AS and A Level Sciences (suite A)
Centres currently offering AS/A Level Biology (H021, H421), Chemistry A (H034, H434) or Physics A (H158, H558) qualifications extended for use in Northern Ireland (final assessment summer 2017, no resit), or offering AS/A Level Human Biology (H023, H423) will need to move to the new CCEA or WJEC AS/A Level Biology, Chemistry and Physics specifications this September. This is due to the requirement in Northern Ireland for science practicals in AS and A Level Science subjects to contribute to the overall grade.
New and alternative qualifications
Information on replacement provision for subjects changing from September 2016 and assessment availability for the current qualifications is provided in the 'Reformed qualifications update: Changes to GCSEs, AS and A Levels in Northern Ireland from September 2016' document, below.
We have also created the Qual Change Planner, an online tool designed to support schools and colleges in changing from the qualification currently being delivered to one of our new reformed qualifications or alternative provision. You can search a current qualification by subject or entry code to find out more about final assessment opportunities and replacement qualifications. The Qual Change Planner is available on the GCSE and A Level reform pages of the OCR website.
Information and support
Our aim is to help you at every stage of the introduction of a new specification and we’re working hard to provide a practical package of support in close consultation with teachers and other experts. To find out more about our resources and support please visit the qualification pages for the new reformed qualifications on the OCR website.
For the latest news and guidance on the reform of general qualifications please visit our dedicated GCSE and A level reform pages on the OCR website.
For more information, contact Paul McGlade, National Manager Ireland and Wales on firstname.lastname@example.org or OCR’s Customer Contact Centre on 01223 553998 or email@example.com.
Reformed qualifications update: Changes to GCSEs, AS and A Levels in Northern Ireland from September 2016