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Curriculum changes

Key Stage 4 – changes to GCSE exams

What are the main changes?

Students will have most GCSEs graded 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade. Most courses will now be 100% examination, with a few still having controlled assessments, such as Art, Media Studies, Drama and Science. This is detailed in the Key Stage 4 curriculum booklet.

For most details of the new grading structure, please click here. The government have made a number of postcards available explaining the changes at Key Stage 4, they can all be viewed here.

The new Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures also apply, see below for more information.

What are the changes to English & Maths?

For English, the 40% coursework no longer exists, making the final examinations worth 100%. Students get a separate certificate for their speaking and listening assessment. The grade will no longer be a letter; instead it will be a number from 9-1, with 9 being the highest.

Mathematics has been 100% examination for some time now, and this continues. The grade will no longer be a letter; instead it will be a number from 9-1, with 9 being the highest.

How will the assessment for vocational subjects change?

Foundation Pathway Level 1 courses continue to be assessed by portfolio only, but all others have a final examination similar to the GCSEs. The percentage of marks for this exam will vary according to the subject, speak to subject staff for more information.

What are the new Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures?

Progress 8 measure: Progress 8 is now used for the performance tables of schools. Progress 8 is designed to encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum at KS4. The new measure is based on students’ progress at secondary school measured across 8 subjects:

  • English, Mathematics
  • 3 other English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) subjects (sciences, computer science, geography, history, languages).
  • 3 further subjects, which can be from the range of Ebacc subjects, or can be any other Government approved arts, academic or vocational qualification.

The Attainment 8 measure shows students’ average achievement in the same suite of subjects as the Progress 8 measure.

Although most students study for Progress 8 and Attainment 8, the school recognises that there are a number of students for whom a slightly different curriculum is more appropriate.

Sixth Form courses – the current state of play

Why has the government made changes to A levels?

  • Concern over too many opportunities for re-sits – although January re-sits have gone, there is still concern that students can re-sit Year 12 and secure those marks before moving on to Year 13.
  • Concern over the rigour of coursework – generally, marks are higher in coursework, resulting in grade inflation. No coursework is seen as a better measure of a student’s ability.
  • Universities require “more depth of knowledge and understanding” and higher skill base. For most subjects asessment wil be by written exam at the end of the course.

What is the content and style of the assessment like?

  • The AS is more content-heavy, and overall the A level more “robust”
  • Emphasis on the terminal assessment.
  • Most subjects have no coursework component
  • Subjects such as the sciences have a formal single sitting practical examination
  • Subjects such as Theatre Studies, Art and Design Technology continue to have practical and portfolio requirements

Are there still AS exams?

These will still exist nationally, but if students sit these, the marks will not count towards the final A level exam mark. Here at St Ivo Year 12 students will not sit AS Levels.

So, do students have to choose 3 or 4 A levels?

Our guidance is for students to choose three A levels as standard, although some students will wish to study four. We expect some groups of students will be keen to do four, such as very high ability students, or those specialising in a particular area. However, in some cases, studying four will likely result in a poorer performance than a focus on three. Students and parents, therefore, will be advised on a case by case basis.