A-levels and GCSEs in arts subjects will be more rigorous and maths will become increasingly important, in new exams that will be phased in from 2015.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said that the new GCSEs and A-levels will correct the “pernicious damage caused by grade inflation and dumbing down”, the BBC reports. Maths will become increasingly important in a range of subjects, and exams in arts subjects will be made more demanding.
Changes for specific subjects include:
- Economics A-level: the role of central banks and financial regulation will be introduced
- History A-level: topics will need to cover at least 200 years rather than 100 years
- Science GCSE: human genome biology and other ‘cutting edge’ content will be introduced
- History GCSE: a wider range of historical periods will be studied, with more emphasis on UK history.
Exam regulator Ofqual had already announced that GCSEs are to be graded from 9 to 1, rather than A* to G at present. The new ‘super grade’ 9 will be for exceptional students, with only half the number of pupils who currently obtain A* grades achieving it. Also, GCSEs will be tied to an international benchmark for the first time ever, with a grade five pass being equivalent to a top-grade pass in the OECD’s PISA tests.
ASCL’s Brian Lightman warned that schools and pupils face “enormous pressure” during the switch to the new exams. “The success of these very ambitious changes will depend on effective implementation and high quality communication and preparation for schools from the awarding bodies,” he said. “We still have not seen specific content for the exams nor details of how it will be assessed. Therefore there is no way of saying with any certainty that these new qualifications will be tougher than what is now in place.”
What’s your reaction to these changes? Do you think they will raise standards or do you share Brian Lightman’s reservations?