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Ofqual Announces New Design for GCSEs

1 November 2013

This morning Ofqual announced their plans to redesign some of the key features of GCSE exams from September 2015. English language, English literature and maths will be the first to follow Ofqual's new format, with new GCSEs in other subjects introduced from the following year.

Earlier this week, exam board insiders confirmed that as many as 20 GCSE subjects would be undergoing scrutiny to determine whether they are 'too soft' to be branded as GCSEs. Following fears that subjects such as music may not deemed 'academic' enough to retain GCSE status, Ofqual's chief regulator Glenys Stacey has stated that 'The aim is not to stop important, established subjects, but rather to make sure everyone is clear about what is a GCSE and what is not.' As it stands, Ofqual will not be consulting on which subjects will included in the new GCSE qualification until the new year. 

If music is accepted as a traditional, 'core' GCSE subject, it will follow the format of the newly-redesigned English and maths exams. This includes:

- A new grading system using the number 1-9 to indicate performance levels, with 9 being the top level

- Exams as the default method of assessment

- Tiering to be used only in cases when untiered papers will prevent students from demonstrating their knowledge and skills (at both ends of the ability spectrum)

- Exams only in the summer, apart from English language and maths. In these cases, students who were at least 16 on the preceding 31 August will be allowed to sit exams in November

- A fully linear structure, with all assessment at the end of the course

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