The schools white paper, The Importance of Teaching, reported that the Government was seeking the advice of Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator, on changes to restore confidence in GCSEs.
These changes include a return to exams taken at the end of the course, and measures to improve the assessment of spelling, punctuation and grammar.
In an exchange of letters, available in the associated resources, the Secretary of State welcomed Ofqual’s proposals for making changes to GCSE courses from 2012. Ofqual carried out a consultation on the proposals in autumn 2011.
In December 2011 Ofqual announced its decisions on implementation of these reforms in the light of the outcomes of their consultation. The key changes are summarised below. Full details of what the changes will mean are available on Ofqual’s website.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) covering issues arising from the change from modular to linear GCSE exams are available from the connected to section.
For GCSEs certificating from 2014, all external exams will have to be taken at the end of the course.
Students will no longer be able to re-sit individual modules, although they will be able to re-sit the full GCSE.
GCSE exams will take place in May/June. However, there will be an additional opportunity to take GCSEs in Mathematics, English and English language in November because of the importance of these subjects for entry to further education and employment.
Controlled assessments are internal assessments and not part of the exam cycle, so the timing of these will not be affected by the move to end-of-course exams. Students who re-sit GCSEs do not need to redo their controlled assessments; they can carry these forward.
From January 2013 marks will be awarded for accurate spelling, punctuation and use of grammar in external GCSE exams in English literature, geography, history and religious studies.
The Government is committed to further reform and will set out its thinking on the future of GCSEs in due course.
Ofqual confirms reforms to GCSEs from September 2012.
Answers to questions asked by schools about the changes to end of course exams.
Online version of the Schools White Paper published on 24 November 2010.
Information on GCSE reforms