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Changes to GCSE and A-level 2021

(64 Posts)
TheletterZ Tue 04-Aug-20 14:15:59

Guidance has just been published.

(Sorry if someone else has published this already, I had a quick look but couldn’t spot one)

Main changes for gcse:
Science practicals can be demos
PE to go to 2 sports rather than 3
DT & Engineering to accept mock ups
Performances can be solo and audience can be 1 person
English literature and history to have choice of content in exam

The full break down is on p14 of the document.

Are you happy with this or think more should be done?

OP’s posts: |
Malbecfan Tue 04-Aug-20 14:25:39

It was published yesterday. I saw the consultation document and in my subject the proposals seemed reasonable. They have kept those unchanged.

I don't know what else they could have done. It's not as though every school teaches the same units or topics at the same time so they could have got rid of particular units, knowing that they have not been taught. In my subject, Music, the NEA requirements are halved: one performance and one composition. This means that we can spend the curriculum time that we would normally spend on "coursework" on the Listening paper instead. It also helps to address the situation of equality of provision during the lockdown. We have set online lessons and provided detailed feedback but it is not the same across the country and lots of posters have mentioned the state vs private provision gap. Hopefully, these changes will help to level things for all.

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 14:43:04

I have children doing GCSEs and A levels next year.

GCSEs seem broadly fair (my dc is taking history, eng lit, French, music and drama of the ones changed). No change to triple science content - that’s A LOT of content!

A levels - well they’ve just put their head in the sand! There’s a massive amount of content and for my dc no changes. There’s some waffle about the geography NEA some have already completed this - those who hadn’t before lockdown will be massively disadvantaged.

So in summary GCSEs seem ok A levels not! Next school year is going to be horrendous for these poor young people and their teachers 😒

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 04-Aug-20 14:50:04

I'm really pleased about the GCSE English Lit. Knocking out one unit will save teaching time which can be used on Engl Lang or the rest of English Lit. I don't quite get how they will do it though? Will the Shakespeare paper be half the usual length and then all the others in the other paper?

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 14:58:20

The trouble with these sort of changes though are they are great if you’ve already done the Shakespeare but rubbish if you’ve done the other 3 but not the Shakespeare yet!

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 04-Aug-20 15:06:53

That's true Kitty .

DD has the Shakespeare && AIC && half the poems to do. Anyone who only has the Shakespeare left is way ahead. Plus of course it saves on revision time regardless.

DoraemonDingDong Tue 04-Aug-20 15:11:44

@KittyMcKitty You're right, A Levels seem to barely be changed, certainly not for the subjects my kids are sitting (mix of sciences and languages) sad It's going to be extra hard for this year group of A Level students I think.

clary Tue 04-Aug-20 17:23:27

Also MFL no need for soaking exam at all, which is a shame as it's the key skill.

Eng lit is a good decision tho (watches as every school drops the poetry!). tbh if you left the Shakespeare till last that's not a good plan anyway. Any Eng teacher I know always starts with the Shakey, so they can go back to it. It certainly needs the most time.

I assume there will be a Shakespeare paper, then a paper with three options, pick two of them. And no unseen poetry at all.

Teen interesting! I can't imagine any school dropping AIC! What will they do do you think?

clary Tue 04-Aug-20 17:23:56

lol speaking exam not soaking exam!

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 17:31:23

Haha well my children’s school always do Shakespeare in year 13 (they’re a high performing Grammar school and get fab eng results).

I can’t imagine the unseen poetry will go so it will be 2 out of (in our case) poetry anthology, AIC and J&H - my dc would through choice ditch J&H which is universally hated.

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 17:37:51

Year 11 not 13!

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 04-Aug-20 18:37:40

clary I don't have any idea what they will do as I haven't quite worked out how 'much' poetry they have done, so don't know whether they will go for dropping that or AIC which they haven't started. It will be interesting to see what they decide. I don't really have an opinion on which I'd prefer for DD so I'll happily go with the flow.

clary Tue 04-Aug-20 19:19:58

interesting Kitty, do you think they will still set the unseen poetry? But if you chose not to study the poetry, that would be a really difficult element. I think they'll have to drop that element as most people will avoid the poems, unless they have already done them...

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 19:34:16

I can’t see them dropping it otherwise there will be no compulsory poetry section in an English Lit exam which seems kind of wrong hmm but that’s just my opinion. I guess it’ll all become clear.

I’ve always thought of Eng Lit having 5 components

Victorian Novel
More modern play
Poetry anthology
Unseen poem

Lacey2019 Tue 04-Aug-20 19:36:56

As a geography teacher, it’s made my life harder. I still have to teach fieldwork as there will be questions on unfamiliar content. Not good

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 04-Aug-20 19:44:54

I'd always though that they were 25% each, with unseen poetry 'in' with the poems. But just having checked our school booklet it does look as if Kitty is correct re 5 separate sections.

So I guess they could do: Shakespeare & unseen poetry in one paper, and the 19th C, 20th C & poems in the other. It does mean that everyone needs to learn how to do poetry which makes dropping poetry less 'obvious' as presumably the skills learned helped with unseen?

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 20:41:41

Lacey do you teach A level Geography too? The whole situation with the NEA is horrid with those having done it already surely at an advantage over those who were unable to dye to lick down.

Re Eng Lit AQA break down marks as follows:

Shakespeare 30 + 4 spag
19th Century novel 30
Modern Texts 30 + 4 spag
Poetry Anthology 30
Unseen Poetry 1 x 24 and 1 x 8

So yes the obvious would be Shakespeare + unseen on paper 1 and 19th C novel, modern texts & poetry anthology on paper 2 with students doing 2 out of the 3 (but not sure how they’d decide what to do about the spag marks).

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 20:43:39

^ lock down even!

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 04-Aug-20 20:45:53

For some other subjects (RE?) they do SPAG marks for each question but only the 'best 2' count (or something).

clary Tue 04-Aug-20 22:48:42

well there was no compulsory poetry when I did English lit o level!

I just think that tackling questions on unseen poetry would be really challenging if you hadn't acquired the vocabulary through studying some specific poems. You wouldn't get the same skills from a Victorian novel tbh.

Hmmmm if they do keep the unseen poetry I think people will maybe drop Christmas Carol instead. It's not clear tho is it; Ofqual talks about "poetry" but doesn't state seen or unseen. AQA simply calls it all poetry in the exam.

Lacey2019 Tue 04-Aug-20 22:53:44

@KittyMcKitty hello! Yes I do. The NEA will be tough as again, practically, I can’t do both days of fieldwork. I’m reading between the lines that I may be able to do human or physical.

Gcse is no better, infact that’s so much more stress.

KittyMcKitty Tue 04-Aug-20 23:11:28

Lacey that sounds a nightmare for you. My dc was supposed to be away doing the fieldwork tge first week of lockdown there is a date pencilled in for it but we shall see!

Clary yes it’s unclear but to drop unseen plus one other component is removing 40% of the content (compared to the proposed 25% in history) so I just can’t see it happening. The 19th C novel (for which we have to thank Gove angry ) would, to me, be the obvious one to go. My children’s school and other local ones do Jekyll & Hyde and the students hate it. I feel tge poetry (particularly the Power & Conflict) is more accessible then tge dense arcane language of J&H but obv different people have different views!

Re poetry analysis it’s done from year 7 onwards so not really a new skill to learn in KS4.

clary Wed 05-Aug-20 07:58:19

Well no argument there, I love the poetry, I asked both my DC who dud this exam and they both said argh drop the poetry! They did Frankenstein and Christmas Carol tho, I don't like J&H much either.

I'm not really an Eng lit teacher btw but a lot of friends are, will have to quiz them on what they think 😀

TeenPlusTwenties Wed 05-Aug-20 08:41:11

clary well there was no compulsory poetry when I did English lit o level!

Are you sure? I did O levels in 82, and I did Macbeth, P&P and poems of Tennyson.

clary Wed 05-Aug-20 09:57:53

haha teen I did o levels in 1980 <really old gimmer> and we did do poetry (love poems, and town and industrial life) but it was deffo a choice. By our teacher. I recall her telling us we would be grateful as we would have a lot less to learn. All the other classes did AMND and two novels but we got away with just old Silas Marner.

Boards would have varied tho, this was Cambridge.

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