Changes to GCSE from 2012 – an overview

The Government has set out its policy aims in the White Paper, The Importance of Teaching (2010). Some of these aims focused on changes to the current GCSE qualifications, namely:
  1. to ensure that GCSE examinations are taken at the end of the course
  2. to remove the potential for the re-sitting of units
  3. to ensure that greater account is taken of spelling, punctuation and grammar in GCSE qualifications.
Currently, Ofqual are consulting on the proposals. You can take a look at the changes here

In addition, you make like to ‘Have your say’ about the proposals

Government response to Wolf Report

The government response to the Wolf Report was published today. The main areas they have identified for priority are:

  • Ensure that all young people study and achieve in English and mathematics, ideally to GCSE A*-C, by the age of 19. For those young  people who are not immediately able to achieve these qualifications, we  will identify high quality English and maths qualifications that will enable  them to progress to GCSE later. 
  • Will also reform GCSE to ensure that  they are a more reliable indicator of achievement in the basics, in  particular by ensuring that GCSEs are reformed alongside our current  review of the National Curriculum.  
  • Reform performance tables and funding rules to remove the perverse  incentives which have served only to devalue vocational education, while  pushing young people into qualification routes that do not allow them to  move into work or further learning. Those vocational qualifications that attract performance points will be the very best for young people – in terms  of their content, assessment and progression. 
  • Look at the experience of other countries to simplify Apprenticeships,  remove bureaucracy and make them easier for employers to offer.
In Humanities subjects, it is probably the second bullet point that is of most interest to us – Reforming GCSEs! Watch this space
The full government response can be viewed here along with the Wolf Report itself which can be viewed via the DfE website here

History for all – Ofsted report March 2011

This report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of history in primary and secondary schools. It is based principally on evidence from inspections of history between April 2007 and March 2010 in 166 maintained schools in England. 


Part A focuses on the key inspection findings in the context of rising standards since the previous report in 2007. Part B discusses some of the key issues facing history teachers and describes the essential components of effective learning in history. Both parts of the report give examples of good practice. This report builds on Ofsted’s 2007 report, History in the balance.


Read the full report here

Her Majesty’s Chief inspector, Christine Gilbert said:
‘The report presents a positive picture of the standards and teaching in history in schools. History is well taught, pupils enjoy it and achieve well. However, the report also found that some primary teachers find it difficult to establish a clear picture of the past so that pupils can develop a secure understanding of chronology. More attention needs to be given to helping teachers improve their understanding of progression in historical thinking. 

National Curriculum review – Give Geography and History a voice!

Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, has announced a review of the primary and secondary National Curriculum in England. 


The National Curriculum was originally intended as a guide for study in key subjects which would give parents and teachers confidence that students were acquiring the knowledge necessary at every level of study to make appropriate progress. 


As it has developed, the National Curriculum has come to cover more subjects, prescribe more outcomes and take up more school time than originally intended.  The DfE want to hear your opinions and evidence about the National Curriculum and start a debate about what is taught in our schools. By answering the questions in the Call for Evidence you can give your input to the discussion at this early stage.


Have your say here via the Dept for Education website

The Wolf Report

A review has taken place – focusing on the future of vocational education

To read the report, you can access and download it here

From what I can tell, the main findings appear to be:

  • 80% of time should be spent on ‘core’ subjects (up until the age of 16) – which I take to mean the ones included in the EBacc (inc Geography and History)
  • Too many courses are not suitable to lead youngsters into higher education or a job
  • Vocational qualifications should not be included in school league tables (some at the moment are the equivalent of 4 GCSE grades)
  • Schools should no longer have a duty to provide work experience for students
  • Students should stick to ‘academic subjects’ up until the age of 16
  • Colleges should be able to take students from the age of 14

A Personal view:
If this will stop some schools offering inappropriate vocational courses and pushing students into them in order to artificially inflate their 5*A-C grade percentage in the league tables, rather than encouraging them down the vocational route because it is the best route for the individual student – it must be seen as a good thing!