GCSEs: What’s different this year?

The BBC has published a helpful guide summarising what’s changed with GCSEs this year and why there is likely to be greater volatility in results…

A return to end-of-course examinations

The biggest change in GCSEs this year was the return to linear exams – with all pupils sitting their tests in the summer at the end of the two-year course.

Students have no longer had the option to take exams on the parts of the qualification at several points during their courses because so-called modularised GCSEs have been scrapped…

Some coursework remains but it has been limited.

Changes to GCSE English/English language

The major change here is that the results of the speaking and listening part of the qualification do not now count towards final English/English Language GCSE grades.

In the past this part of the qualification has been assessed by teachers and there were claims in 2012 of a high degree of inconsistency in the way teachers in different schools marked the assessments.

Ofqual’s answer was to remove it from the overall result. However, candidates still have to take a speaking and listening assessment and the results of this will be reported alongside a student’s final result using grades 1-5.

The balance between exam and controlled assessment (where candidates complete work in a controlled class environment) has also been changed.

Written exams will count for 60% of the English GCSE while controlled assessments will count for 40%. It used to be the other way round…

What about early entries?

Changes to the way GCSE results are measured in school league tables have discouraged schools from entering children early for their exams.

This step was taken because data suggested that entering pupils for GCSEs earlier was not generally in their favour and the earlier they entered, the less well they did.

…with only the first crack at the exam now counting for school accountability measures, there has been a huge drop-off in early entrants.

The overall number of entries from students in Year 10 and below fell by 40% on the previous year. Some experts believe this change could lead to a slight rise in grades overall as many of the poorer candidates will not sit the exams inappropriately early.

What does Ofqual say about all this?

…the changes outlined above mean that both the examinations and those taking them are different.

Ofqual says this means results are likely to look different from previous years. However, Ms Stacey insists schools and parents can be sure that standards have remained the same.

However, she does acknowledge that there is likely to be variability in results at the school level…

More at: GCSEs: What’s different this year?


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  1. frackham_edu

    SchoolsImprove hmm. BBC repeats ‘high degree of inconsistency’ line even though this has been challenged each time gov uses it…

  2. I remember a conversation I had with a teacher from a private school.  He told me that all his students were awarded full marks in their teacher-assessed practical (science).  They just kept re-marking and giving them back till they did.

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