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Getting my head around the new GCSEs and A-levels due 2015

(34 Posts)
noblegiraffe Sun 15-Sep-13 15:28:32

I'm a maths teacher, currently on maternity leave and trying to keep up-to-date with developments (hard when Gove is in charge!).

From what I gather, at GCSE we will have new, harder (harder than the current new, harder) GCSEs in maths and English for first teaching in 2015. Other subjects will follow in 2016.

At A-level, things are going linear. I understand that maths and further maths are proving problematic and we will start linear teaching in 2016, but other subject linear courses will start in 2015. AS level as a midway point will cease, but students can opt to take a standalone AS level which will be a separate qualification, not a part of the A-level. I'm assuming this means they will have to select which subject they want their AS level to be in at the start of Y12 rather than reviewing results at the end of Y12 and deciding which subject to drop.

In maths, at least, we will have students starting the new A-level in 2016, having sat the old GCSE, as the new GCSE only starts in 2015. Presumably this will be a disadvantage as you would hope that the new GCSE will be designed to prepare better for the new A-level. Other subjects will have it worse as the new A-level will start in 2015, but the new GCSE not till 2016.

Am I right? Any other subject teachers want to chip in? I think if I were a parent of a child in this middle of the changeover, I'd be concerned.

Info here:

BackforGood Sun 15-Sep-13 15:39:49

grin "I was going to say, watching with interest, as I have dds who will be affected, but someone knowledgeable like noblegiraffe will be along soon to answer" grin

HmmAnOxfordComma Sun 15-Sep-13 15:45:47

Didn't they announce a week or so ago that the changes were getting put back another year because they were running out of time to implement them? (So no longer affecting my yr 8 ds but the current yr 7s?) Off to consult Mr Google.

You're right about the A level thing though: they should lead on from each other GCSE first, new A level 2 years after?

HmmAnOxfordComma Sun 15-Sep-13 15:50:45

Oh, ok it is still maths and English, just not the other ones they wanted to do (humanities, science and languages?).

As you were.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 15-Sep-13 15:57:45

I am a parent with a child in the middle of this changeover. I am extremely concerned (not least because DS is dyslexic and has AS).

noblegiraffe Sun 15-Sep-13 16:03:41

grin BackForGood

I guess if the first cohort to do the new GCSE were also the first cohort to do the new A-level, then they'd be hit with a double whammy of unfamiliarity and that might seem unfair. But this seems a very muddled and rushed way of doing things.

I'm predicting, that with the syllabus for the September 2015 first teaching undoubtedly arriving in schools the summer of 2015, there will be a mad rush of early entries for the old GCSEs in June 2016.

secretscwirrels Sun 15-Sep-13 17:22:59

his seems a very muddled and rushed way of doing things. You wouldn't really expect it to be carefully planned and measured would you? grin

Doesn't the fact that all A2 maths modules are now taken at the end of Y13 mean they are in fact linear? They are broken down by topic but they are all sat in May / June.
Do you think they plan to merge the topics somehow and have one big exam instead of Mechanics / Pure / Stats etc?
<mind boggles>

noblegiraffe Sun 15-Sep-13 17:37:30

No, they mean properly linear, as in all exams taken at the end of Y13, none at the end of Y12. They are getting rid of AS as a component of A-level.

From what I read of the report I linked to, they realise this will cause problems in maths by removing the flexibility of pure and applied modules between maths and further maths. Sorting this (and other issues) is why the maths and further maths a-levels have been put back a year.

longingforsomesleep Mon 16-Sep-13 00:13:42

Perhaps students will revert back to the (very) old system of just choosing 3 A levels (or 4 for the very brightest) and not bothering with AS? The benefit of doing 4 AS levels was, I assumed that it gave you some flexibility and you could drop whichever subject turned out to be your weakest.

ClayDavis Mon 16-Sep-13 00:42:20

It may have had that benefit, but from what I remember at the time the idea of more AS subjects then 3 for A2 was to do with studying a broader range of subjects. It was supposed to bring post 16 education more in line with IB. It never really happened because unlike the IB it never specified blocks of subjects that you had to choose from so you could still end up taking all sciences and maths even with more subjects.

IShallWearMidnight Mon 16-Sep-13 13:52:19

Am totally confused by the timings and changes to timings. DD2 is in Y11 so doing existing style GCSEs (controlled assessments and end of course exams). What is happening next year in Y12 - same AS and A2 system as currently, or "new" 2 year A levels? Are the dates mentioned earlier for the end of course exams, or the start of course teaching?

noblegiraffe Mon 16-Sep-13 14:20:41

2015 is start of teaching
Current Y11 sit old GCSEs and old A-levels (with no January modules as just introduced)
Current Y10 will sit old GCSEs, but new Linear A-levels except in maths/further maths
Current Y9 will sit old GCSEs but all new Linear A-levels
Current Y8 will start the new maths and English GCSEs but the old humanities etc, and Linear A-levels
Current Y7 will sit all new GCSEs and Linear A-levels.

I think.

Theas18 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:30:02

Gawd it's so unfair on the the kids!

DS is now A2 year and has spent his whole school career learning and doing exams in a modular way, in a modular system.

The year that really really matters ie A2 he has to learn a whole new way of doing this, and ace the grades. No wonder he's stressed

poppydoppy Mon 16-Sep-13 15:23:32

Why do they have to rush this through? I wish they would just do a complete overhaul for the current year 7s so students and teachers have time to adapt.

IShallWearMidnight Mon 16-Sep-13 15:56:05

Thanks noblegiraffe, that makes things a bit more straightforward

crazymum53 Mon 16-Sep-13 16:59:56

So Y9 dd will do "old" style GCSEs and the new linear A levels. What's the logic behind requiring more children to stay in education till the age of 18 but making A levels harder ?
Since January exams have been discontinued there have been more dcs who haven't made the grade at AS level this year, so won't these changes mean that even more students won't make the grade after spending 2 years studying.
I am also concerned that introducing all these changes at once will result in many good, experienced teachers leaving the profession.

friday16 Mon 16-Sep-13 17:20:05

So Y9 dd will do "old" style GCSEs and the new linear A levels.

Well, the GCSE will be linear as well, but with the current scheme of work. Almost all GCSEs are now terminal-only, as of the 2014 examination session.

What's the logic behind requiring more children to stay in education till the age of 18 but making A levels harder ?

The people who will be staying in school or training, but would not previously have done, are unlikely to be taking A Levels.

NoComet Mon 16-Sep-13 17:41:46

DD2 is in Y8, so she starts her GCSEs in sept 15.

So I think she gets the new exams.

I'm not too worried about GCSE, she'll take whatever's thrown at her.

It's hard A levels that worry me, there is just so much scope for exams not matching what's taught if they aren't properly tested.

longingforsomesleep Mon 16-Sep-13 17:50:34

So .... DS in Year 10 has started AS Computing with the aim of completing the AS at the end of Year 11 (summer 2015). Does that mean, if he wants an A level in Computing (which he does) he will then have spend 2 years doing it in year 12 and 13, rather than one year doing the A2 in year 12 which I believe was the intention?

noblegiraffe Mon 16-Sep-13 18:04:37

No, longing, he can continue with A2 in Y12 and complete it in one year. It's only students starting their two year course in 2015 who will take all their exams at the end. It won't affect students who are in the middle of a course in 2015.

creamteas Mon 16-Sep-13 18:10:30

The other unknown is that if we have a change of government after the general election, then the timetable could change again hmm.

noblegiraffe Mon 16-Sep-13 18:19:21

The election is precisely why Gove is rushing these changes through in 2015. He's reckoning it will be a done deal by then and a new Government couldn't possibly have the time between May and September to put the brakes on.

creamteas Mon 16-Sep-13 18:23:38

I know, but Labour have already said that they still could stop/slow down the changes.

It is relatively easy in May to say, it stays as it is for Sept (not good for schools, but they still could).

friday16 Mon 16-Sep-13 18:49:55

Labour have already said that they still could stop/slow down the changes.

They might like to spend more time worrying about how to win an election, and less time making random announcements about what they'll do in the currently unlikely event that they do.

ClayDavis Mon 16-Sep-13 19:23:30

He's reckoning it will be a done deal by then and a new Government couldn't possibly have the time between May and September to put the brakes on

He does remember the Rose review and curriculum right? The one where we spent millions of pounds producing shiny new curriculum documents and sent them into schools in preparation. Where they're still sitting unused because there was a general election before they could bring it the curriculum in and he scrapped it.

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