GCSE and A level qualification reform update

Qualification reform update
GCSE reform and redevelopment
GCSE English: structural changes
First teaching September 2015
New 1 to 9 grading scale
100% external, terminal assessment
November re-take opportunity, but only for 16+
No single English option
Speaking and Listening as separate endorsement
GCSE English Language: criteria
Reading (50%):
• Students should read ‘high quality, challenging texts from the
19th, 20th and 21st centuries’
• The text types must include literature, literary non-fiction
and other non-fiction writing such as essays, reviews and
journalism (both printed and online)
• All examination texts will be unseen, and be drawn from each
of the three centuries
• Assessing: comprehension, critical reading, summary and
synthesis, writers’ choices (including grammatical) ones and
GCSE English Language: criteria
Writing (50%):
• clear and coherent text, for different audiences and purposes
• for impact
• including ‘creatively and imaginatively’
• 20% of whole qualification allocated to SPaG
Speaking and Listening (unweighted):
• renamed Spoken Language
• focuses on presentation skills, effective listening and use of
standard English
What choices do boards have?
Matching text types and periods
Number of texts; length of texts
Types of texts (within the broader categories); themes
Paper structure: relationship between reading and writing
Writing tasks
Number and length of papers
GCSE English Literature criteria
Students should study a range of high quality, intellectually
challenging, and substantial whole texts in detail. These must
at least one play by Shakespeare
at least one 19th century novel (not short stories)
a selection of poetry since 1789, including representative
Romantic poetry
fiction or drama from the British Isles from 1914 onwards.
GCSE English Literature criteria
To ensure students read widely within these categories, there
must be unseen texts in the assessment
Students must compare texts they have studied, as well as
comparing unseen texts
5% of the qualification is devoted to SPaG, or ‘using a range
of vocabulary and sentence structures for clarity, purpose and
effect, with accurate spelling and punctuation’
Note also reference to grammatical / linguistic terms to aid
literary analysis
What choices do boards have?
More scope here for variation:
• Choice of set texts
Placement of poetry / prose / drama
Treatment of unseen
Recreative response?
Question types
Accountability reform
From 2016, in new Progress 8 headline measure
• Double weighting for English as enabling subject
This can now be either of GCSE English Language or GCSE
English Literature, but both must be taken to secure the
double points
(Same is true for Attainment 8 and eBacc measures)
Still awaiting a view on International GCSE and Certificate
The process: HE involvement
Ministerial concern: is GCE providing adequate progression to
degree level?
We held in-depth conversations with 80+ academics, as well
as practitioners and stakeholders
A level English is not broken
…but there are identifiable areas of weakness in first-year
Awarding Bodies working together with Ofqual on sharing this
evidence to create new criteria, and address these issues
The process: HE involvement
Literature undergraduates need to be better at:
• Close reading skills, and related critical terminology
• Independent thinking and study skills
• Essay writing and general written articulacy
• Wide reading (with adequate historical breadth)
• Confidence with poetry
• Not making sweeping generalisations about literary theory
The process: HE involvement
Language undergraduates need to be better at:
• Knowledge of grammar/phonetics/descriptive linguistics
• Understanding of language as a concept
• Writing skills
• Numeracy and data analysis
Note: different departments have very different views (e.g. on
creative writing)
GCE English Language also a bit of an outlier in this regard:
very few HEIs ask for it as entry requirement due to take-up
The process: HE involvement
What about GCE Language and Literature?
• As well as Literature, Language and Linguistics departments,
we also spoke to a range of lecturers representing the broader
gamut of ‘English Studies’
Support the integrated nature of the 2008 specifications
Reiterated the points about writing skills, wider reading,
knowledge of grammar, close reading, and being able to
situate a text within a cultural/historical context
Context more important than ‘arbitrary comparison’
What have you told us?
The jump to AS is a big one, particularly in Language
Dealing with ‘core’ and ‘secondary’ texts is difficult
Atomistic AO treatment has detrimental effects
Don’t assume learners at this level all have a love of reading
Covering all the content prior to the AS exam can be difficult
Coursework / independent study is very important
Unseen, recreative writing, creative writing, language
investigation = all valid and important assessment types
Clear mark schemes are really important
We will try to respond to as much of this feedback as possible in
the development.
The new subject criteria
• 8 texts, not 12, to facilitate in-depth reading and move away
from ‘secondary texts’
• 6 texts reduced down to 4 at AS
• Some date ranges have changed: post-1990 becomes post2000; greater emphasis on pre-1900 texts
• Unseen assessment will be a compulsory requirement
• Less emphasis on comparison, in favour of ‘connections’
• 20% coursework
NB Subject to change as final criteria are not yet published
The new subject criteria
• 20% coursework
• Tightened technical vocabulary to ensure correct / up-to-date
• Minor amendments to the subject content, to include the
study of historical, geographical, social and individual varieties
of English, as well as aspects of language and identity.
Language and Literature
• 20% coursework
• Less prescription re genre at both AS and A Level
• One of the texts studied must be non-literary
• Inclusion of specific language levels
• Emphasis on comparison is reduced
NB Subject to change as final criteria are not yet published
A level and AS
A levels will be two-year courses, with all the examinations
taken in the May / June of Year 13
AS will be exist – but as a standalone qualification – any AS
result won’t count towards the A level grade
Awarding organisations can design their AS courses so that
they are, as far as is possible, co-teachable with full A level
However, the standard will be different: an AS question on
dystopian novels, for example, will have different expectations
to an A level question on the same texts
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