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Reformed GCSEs and A Levels – an overview

Bill Watkin, Operational Director SSAT, provides a comprehensive overview of the reformed GCSE and A-levels to be taught in schools in England from September 2015.

Extracts are below, along with a free downloadable PDF document of the overview.


Reformed GCSEs

1. Introduction

New GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths will be taught in schools in England from September 2015, with the first results issued in August 2017.

Further subjects will see new GCSEs introduced over the following two years.

2. What new GCSEs will look like

The main features of the new GCSEs are:

  1. A new grading scale of 9 to 1 will be used, with 9 being the top grade. This will allow greater differentiation between students and will help distinguish the new GCSEs from previous versions.
  2. Assessment will be mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.
  3. There will be new, more demanding content, which has been developed by government and the exam boards.
  4. Courses will be designed for two years of study – they will no longer be divided into different modules and students will take all their exams in one period at the end of their course.
  5. Exams can only be split into ‘foundation tier’ and ‘higher tier’ if one exam paper does not give all students the opportunity to show their knowledge and abilities.
  6. Resit opportunities will only be available each November in English language and maths.
download full overview

Reformed A-levels

1. Introduction

New AS and A-levels will be taught in schools in England from September 2015. The first results for the new AS levels will be in 2016, and for the A-levels in 2017. Further subjects will be introduced over the following two years.

What new AS and A-levels will look like

The main features of the new qualifications are:

  1. Assessment will be mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.
  2. AS and A-levels will be assessed at the end of the course. AS assessments will typically take place after 1 year’s study and A-levels after 2. The courses will no longer be divided into modules and there will be no exams in January.
  3. AS and A-levels will be decoupled – this means that AS results will no longer count towards an A-level, in the way they do now.
  4. AS levels can be designed by exam boards to be taught alongside the first year of A-levels.
  5. The content for the new A-levels has been reviewed and updated. Universities played a greater role in this for the new qualifications than they did previously.
download full overview
Tagged with:

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