The reform of GCSEs and AS/A Levels in England is in full swing with the first wave of new qualifications being taught in schools from September 2015. OCR developed 37 new qualifications for first teaching from 2015, and 47 new qualifications for first teaching from 2016.
Following decisions by the Ministers of Education in both Northern Ireland and Wales about qualification reform, there are significant structural differences between GCSEs and AS/A Levels across the three countries.
OCR therefore reached a difficult decision which is disappointing news for schools and colleges. For operational and financial reasons, we regret that we are not able to offer qualifications specific to Wales or Northern Ireland, alongside a large portfolio of different, reformed qualifications that we have developed for England. Wherever we still have the opportunity, we will continue to offer the English reformed versions of qualifications in Wales and Northern Ireland.And we will support the teaching and assessment of all our unreformed (legacy) GCSEs and AS/A Levels till the last assessment opportunity.
Education policy in Wales requires that GCSEs retain a A* - G grading system. AS Levels - taken at the end of Year 12 – will continue to contribute (though now 40%) to the final A Level grade. Welsh-specific qualifications are offered to state schools by exam board WJEC. The exceptions are OCR's reformed GCSEs and reformed AS/A Levels in Latin and Classical Greek which all schools in Wales can teach.In the independent sector however, schools and colleges may use reformed GCSE and AS/A Level qualifications from OCR or any exam board. Other OCR qualifications still available to all Welsh schools and colleges include Cambridge Technicals, Cambridge Nationals and other OCR vocational qualifications.
Education policy for AS/A Levels in Northern Ireland means that all schools and colleges can teach OCR’s new AS/A Levels developed for England. The exception at AS/A Level is science, because science practicals in the reformed AS/A Levels are assessed separately and don’t contribute to the overall grade.
In November 2015, the Northern Ireland Education Minister confirmed that the A* to G grading system for GCSEs must be retained. We cannot offer qualifications specific to Northern Ireland so regretfully schools in the post primary sector will not be able to teach the reformed GCSEs which are graded 9 to 1. So that candidates are not disadvantaged, we have asked the Department of Education Northern Ireland to ensure transitional arrangements are made available for students who have already begun OCR’s new (9 to 1) GCSEs in maths and English. For these schools and students, we have a commitment to offer exams in June 2017 and re-sits in November 2017. In the independent sector, schools are free to use reformed GCSEs. OCR qualifications still available to all schools and colleges in Northern Ireland include new AS/A Levels (excluding the three sciences), Cambridge Technicals, Cambridge Nationals and other OCR vocational qualifications.
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