Ofqual and the department for education have both today released further details about their proposed reforms to GCSEs
The DfE has launched a consultation on their proposed subject content and assessment objectives for reformed GCSEs. The proposed GCSE science qualifications, for first teaching from September 2015, include options for separate awards in biology, chemistry and physics, as well as a combined dual award. Both options contain explicit requirements for the application of mathematical understanding and are intended to support progression to A-levels.
The consultation seeks to determine whether the proposed content 'represents a demanding and fulfilling course of study'. Among the specific questions it asks are 'has the right practical content for science been identified to allow students to gain the skills to progress in the subject?' and 'will the combined science double award provide students with a sufficiently secure basis for progression to A-level study in each of biology, chemistry and physics?'
Ofqual's consultation looks at their plans regarding the structure and assessment of the qualifications. Their proposals include linear (as opposed to modular) qualifications, with examinations only taking place in May and June; tiered exam papers for science that include an element of synoptic assessment (testing content from any section of the specification); and final grades described by the numbers 1-8, with 8 representing the highest level of performance.
Regarding practical skills, Ofqual states: '[we] propose that the demonstration of science practical skills should be assessed other than by exam, marked by teachers and contribute to the overall grade.' Ofqual advocates that the practical assessment will contribute 10% of the final mark.