Brevity is a virtue. It’s all very well having a way with words, but they need to be read, understood and inwardly-digested to make an impact. Our Head was sufficiently impressed with SecEd‘s guide to the changes in GCSEs and wider 14 to 19 reforms to have it photocopied and issued to staff. I’m going to pare it down to the absolute minimum in what follows…
- New qualification – the diploma – starting to be taught this September.
- Functional skills to be come an essential element of Maths, English & ICT (students not able to achieve above a ‘C’ grade without passing this element)
- Number of units at ‘A’ Level being reduced from 6 to 4 – more open-ended questions and a new A* grade.
- Coursework will effectively cease in its current form. Being replaced by ‘controlled assessment’ that can be taken at discretion of teachers.
Timeline of changes:
(click for larger version)
The first five diplomas on offer will be:
- Creative and Media
- Construction and the Built Environment
- Information Technology
- Society, Health & Development
These will be offered at Level 1 (Foundation), Level 2 (Higher) and Level 3 (Advanced). Expectation that diplomas will be available in 17 subjects by 2011 and to all students by 2013. Students will have 600 guided learning hours for Level 1 diplomas and 800 hours for Level 2. Intention is that they will be taken alongside the statutory National Curriculum.
- Level 1 diploma = 5 GCSEs (D-G)
- Level 2 diploma = 7 GCSEs (A*-C)
Level 3 diploma comparable to 3 ‘A’ Levels – 1,080 guided learning hours.
The first teaching of functional skills as part of English, Maths & ICT courses will take place in 2010. Pilots have been going on since 2007.
- English: explaining information (speech & writing), understanding instructions, analysing presentation of information (& assessing its usefulness). May involve an oral presentation/contribution to discussions.
- Maths: capability to solve problems, development of analytical and reasoning skills, and ability to identify errors and inconsistencies.
- ICT: students expected to feel confident in finding, selecting and collecting information. Need to be able to apply it ‘safely’ to learning.
There are two different stages to the new controlled assessments:
- Research and data collection (can take place under limited levels of supervision “to encourage out-of-classroom learning”)
- Production of final piece of work (under formal supervision)
Move from ‘linear assessment’ (exams at end of two years) to ‘unitised qualifications’ (exams as you go along, with retakes). However, QCA rules state that 40% of assessment must happen at the end of the course and only one re-sit of each assessment is allowed.
- Teachernet (see 14-19, Secondary, Functional Skills)
- Ofqual.gov.uk (new examinations regulator – see launch brochure, guide for GCSE students, guide for ‘A’ Level students)
- GCSEchanges.com (OCR’s portal)