These changes will initially cover core subjects of English Language and Literature, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Combined Science, History and Geography.
A*-G grades will be replaced with numbers 8-1 with a higher ‘pass’ mark. Tiered papers will be removed in favour of one exam for all, regardless of ability.
New exams will credit a higher percentage of marks for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar and will require a wider range of writing skills, with a greater number of open-ended essay questions and problem solving. There will be more detailed subject content within the syllabus requiring for example students to study the whole text of a Shakespeare play or a Dickens novel, rather than just one act or scene. Algebra will become a key element of the maths syllabus.
It remains to be seen if these proposals survive the consultation process or if they go the same way as the EBacc. Whatever the outcome, it seems the debate will continue as to whether the current GCSE exams present enough challenge and rigour to maintain adequate standards in education, preparing young people for the future world of work on an increasingly global stage.
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