Why are these changes happening?
The aim of these exam changes is to better prepare students for employment or further study, after universities and employers suggested the current system leaves them inadequately prepared. It is part of the government’s plan to improve the British education system so it is up there with the best in the world, having stagnated and fallen behind countries which offer a more rigorous approach. This includes (from gov.uk):
■Content: New and more challenging content
■Structure: All exams at the end of the course
■Assessment: Mainly by examination
Non-exam assessment only where necessary
■Tiering: Foundation and higher tier permitted
only in maths, science and modern foreign languages
■Grading: New numbered scale (9 to 1) to replace current lettering, where 9 is the highest. A current C will be a 4, and the new government ‘good pass’ set at a 5. Only half of current A* pupils will get a 9 (top 20% of students that get 7 or above), while 7/8 roughly equates to an A currently.
This means that between now and Summer 2019, GCSE results will most likely be a combination of letters and numbers, until every subject has moved over to the new specifications
When do these changes come in to play?
These changes are being brought in gradually, with maths, English language and English literature having started the new specifications in September 2015.
The new specifications for the following subjects is starting in September 2016, with the first new exams in 2018:
ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin)
art and design
food preparation and nutrition
modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish)
And in September 2017, with first exams in 2019, there will be a new syllabus for:
design and technology
And finally, in September 2018 (exams in 2020), the last group of new GCSEs will be introduced:
A full list of GCSE subject content can be found here on gov.uk:
What are the biggest changes?
Without going into the incredibly pernickety details of every syllabus change – and some of the changes are incredibly pernickety – we have gone through every subject and identified the most significant changes. In addition, we have provided links to the new specifications/syllabus content in full, in case you want to check them out for yourself and see exactly what your children are up against.
Remember, if you have any questions you can call your child’s school, who should be able to tell you everything you need to know. Failing that, you can always call Minerva Tutors on 020 8819 3276, and our expert team will be happy to help!