GCSE Examination Reform Live Q&A

Published 4th May 2016

The waiting is nearly over and during the week beginning 16th May 2016, we are expecting to be able to view copies of the draft GCSE and GCE specifications currently being developed by the Awarding Organisations (AOs).  The D&T Association has been shown some of them and has when asked for it, been able to provide some feedback.  As one would have expected, there are differences between what respective AOs have produced and no doubt, different schools will be attracted by the unique features each possesses. They will then decide during forthcoming months which specification best meets their own unique circumstances.

Although there are differences, one thing will be common and that is the attempt to make them more challenging.  At the insistence of the Minister for Schools Nick Gibb, there is an increase in the mathematical and scientific content listed in specifications. There is also a requirement that 15% of the marks in both GCSE and GCE examinations are for use of mathematics. At GCSE , the level for this is upper end of KS3 National Curriculum, whilst at GCE, the level is higher tier GCSE mathematics.

It is clear that AOs have in the most part worked hard to develop specifications that allow for specialisation in one of the current specialist areas – as set out in the new subject content. Indeed there is a need to acknowledge where schools are in their stage of developing D&T. We recognise that there will be a transitionary period while the new requirements bed in.  However, the D&T Association is concerned that in some respects, as a consequence of this and in particular the assessment models it has had sight of for the non-examined assessment (NEA) component (formally known as controlled assessment), the ‘spirit of the initiative under pinning the changes is in danger of being  misrepresented. If necessary, it will be making its concerns known to the regulatory authority Ofqual, following publication.  

The D&T Association have already begun planning resources and one day CPD events for the autumn term.  These will assist teachers in a variety of ways, such as deciding which specifications best meet the interests of their students and specific circumstances, what the significant developments are, how they can be taught most effectively and how best to organise GCSE courses in school.  It is also developing the one day conference: Planning to teach the new GCSE in D&T which will be run in 8 venues across the country during the autumn term.

Andy Mitchell will be doing a live Q&A Facebook broadcast on 25th May at 7pm, tune in to discuss and ask all the questions you may have when you read the specs for yourselves. Like our facebook to ensure you have access for the 25th.

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