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Ofqual's Glenys Stacey explains the changes Exams regulator Ofqual has confirmed the changes it is making to GCSEs, in what it calls the biggest shake-up of exams in England for a generation. A new grading system will use numbers instead of letters, and coursework is being scrapped for most subjects.
The changes will be in stages, starting with pupils due to take GCSE exams in Those who turn 13 in this academic year will be the first.
English and maths will be the first subjects affected. Pupils will begin studying the new courses in English language, English literature and maths from the autumn of And about Northern ireland coursework other popular GCSE subjects will be revamped in the same way, ready for teaching a year later, inwith the first exams for those taken in Scotland has its own exams system.
While they come in, pupils in England will have some exams graded with numbers and some with letters, leading teaching unions to warn this will be confusing for pupils, parents and employers.
Wales is also planning a shake-up, bringing in its own new GCSEs in maths, English and Welsh, which will be taught from the autumn of A recent review concluded there was "no case for replacing A-levels or GCSEs in the short or medium term". Exams will be graded from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest.
Pupils who fail will be awarded a "U" for an unclassified result. All exams will be taken after two years of study, rather than in modules taken at various stages over two years, meaning a return to the format of O-levels, which pre-dated GCSEs.
And there will be more marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar. The head of Ofqual, Glenys Stacey, said the changes were "fundamental". She suggested that the move away from traditional grades might be hard for some people to understand, but was important. At the same time, the government is confirming changes to what has to be studied in English language, English literature and maths, because the overhaul of exams covers both what is studied and how it is assessed.
Instead, full exams taken at the end of two years Controlled assessments coursework done under exam conditions will be scrapped for most subjects It says in English literaturestudents will have to "study whole texts in detail, covering a range of literature including Shakespeare, 19th Century novels, Romantic poetry and other high-quality fiction and drama".
The new maths exam will cover more topics and will be more challenging, the government says.
Details were released on Friday morning. For maths, Ofqual is keeping the present arrangement where pupils can be entered for either a higher- or lower-tier paper in maths, depending on their ability. But in English, that division has been scrapped and one exam will be taken by all.
At the moment, students who are entered for easier papers can be awarded only the maximum of a C grade. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionPupils from Liverpool give their reaction to the changes The government says young people were let down by the old exam system; that frequent testing meant not enough time was spent on "deep learning" and not enough attention was paid to grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Schools Minister Elizabeth Truss says the changes will improve students' "core skills" in maths and English and raise expectations. Deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: Analysis This announcement seals the introduction of changes that have been in the pipeline for a while.
The moves amount to a big structural change to England's exam system and signal a clear break from the previous situation when students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland sat similar forms of GCSEs. The move towards "linear" assessment, where everything rests on exams taken at the end of two years, is already under way, but the announcement of the removal of coursework from most GCSE subjects cements that.
As teachers, pupils and parents look ahead, they might wonder whether the alterations would survive any change in government. A general election is scheduled for May - months before the teaching for these new courses begins.
Ofqual's Glenys Stacey says there is a "great deal of consensus that GCSEs need to reform" and that she does not sense "strong resistance" to the changes from politicians. But there are clearly points on which the parties differ.
But the constant tinkering with GCSEs we have had in the past has not been helpful. Secondary school teacher and spokesman for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Jovan Trkulja, said that less able students could suffer.
But we have to remember that setting the top of the mountain as the baseline means someone has to fall behind, and I feel for the sense of failure for the less able," he said.
Shadow schools minister, Labour MP Kevin Brennan, said he had "reservations" about some aspects of the changes and that the move towards a numbered grading system was a step back to the s.
He said he agreed that the pendulum "might have swung a little too far on coursework", but there was now a danger that "it will swing too far the other way".Spanish Immersion Programs.
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