How are teachers and students responding to new GCSEs and A levels?

How are teachers and students responding to new GCSEs and A levels?

Posted by: Janet Holloway, Posted on: Categories: A levels and GCSEs

The recent reforms to general qualifications were the biggest in a generation. We have been asking teachers for their experiences of teaching them, and, to date, we have spoken directly to more than 500 of them. In all of our discussions we have been delighted by the engagement, professionalism and insight they have brought. They have relayed many positive stories and others that have provided food for thought. While we can’t list them all, we’ve summarised the main themes in this blog.

  • Many GCSE teachers have welcomed the increase in the demand of the content. For example, one chemistry teacher told us: “It is no longer possible to swallow a revision guide and regurgitate”.
  • Many teachers also believe that, as a result, the new GCSEs better prepare their students for A levels.
  • Generally, teachers have found the exam papers used so far to be fair. Their students received the grades they expected.
  • In particular, modern foreign languages teachers told us that GCSE and A level question papers assessing writing were fair. They also felt that the speaking assessments were better than those of the legacy qualifications, although there were some logistical challenges in delivering these.
  • GCSE and A level science teachers have welcomed the way practical science skills are now assessed. They told us it has freed up their teaching, allowing them to embed practical skills throughout the two-year course and has empowered students. We have, today, published the latest in a sequence of research reports on this topic at A level.

We have also heard things that we have either acted on ourselves already or have fed back to exam boards for action. For example:

Quite reasonably, teachers need time to adjust to teaching new qualifications and to become familiar with new content and styles of assessments. We will continue to ask teachers for their views, including on the new qualifications that will be examined for the first time this summer. If you are teaching one of those qualifications, please look out for invitations to join one of our workshops in the autumn.

By Janet Holloway, Associate Director, Standards for Design, Development and Evaluation of General Qualifications

If you would like to talk to Ofqual about any of the issues raised in this blog, please contact us at [email protected].

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