General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 39 | Pearson qualifications

General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 39

17 November 2022

Dear Colleague, 

Welcome to our November Qualifications Bulletin. I can hardly believe we are in the middle of November already with about five weeks to the end of term.

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During this busy time, I’m delighted to say that I’ll be speaking at the EdTech Summit on 17th November. I’ll be discussing onscreen assessment and how we’re making this a reality now. Plus, how it’s already changing Pearson Edexcel GCSE and International GCSE exam experiences for teachers and students. I hope to see many of you there.

In this edition of the bulletin, we have information on our final timetables for summer 2023, some important subject updates to take note of, news about our pioneering work with onscreen assessments, our usual key dates and events, plus some exciting information on our Student Ambassador programme.

We’re also pleased to be hosting a new event in November: Spotlight on Assessment, Services and Support – 2022 and beyond. Aimed at UK centres, we’ll be covering the highlights, key trends and outcomes from the summer series across GCSE, International GCSE and A level, with Mary Curnock Cook CBE as a guest speaker. You can read further details in the upcoming events section below and book your place.

As always, do get in touch if you have any questions, we’re always happy to help.

With best wishes,
Hayley White
Assessment Director

Ofqual and DfE arrangements for summer 2023

On 29 September 2022, Ofqual and the DfE confirmed the arrangements for exams and grading in summer 2023. You can read the Ofqual article setting out their approach to grading for 2023. Ofqual’s aim for those sitting exams and assessments in 2023 is to return to results in line with those in pre-pandemic years, as the next step in getting back to normal.

The DfE published a statement setting out their decisions on adaptations for exams in 2023. They have decided students will continue to be provided with support in GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science with formulae and equation sheets. In light of this, Ofqual has launched a consultation on these plans, which has now closed.

The DfE has also confirmed that students taking GCSEs, AS and A levels will not be provided with advance information on the focus of exams next summer. In line with this, we will not be providing advance information for our International GCSEs in 2023. 

A joint consultation has been launched by the DfE and Ofqual on guidance to schools and colleges about gathering assessment evidence to support resilience in the general qualifications system. The guidance proposes schools and colleges gather evidence in a way that aligns with their normal arrangements for preparing students for exams. This consultation has now closed.

Both the DfE and Ofqual are consulting separately on plans to remove the expectation that students engage with unfamiliar and abstract material, such as unfamiliar vocabulary, within modern foreign language GCSE assessments from 2023 onwards. The DfE’s consultation covers the curriculum, while Ofqual’s consultation covers exam content and how it is assessed. Both consultations have now closed.

We will provide you with an update on all the above consultations as soon as they become available via our Summer 2023 support page.

Our May/June 2023 timetables have now been finalised and are available on our website.

The exam timetables for summer 2023 seek to maintain some of the space built into the exam timetable in 2022 between the first and last exams in the same subject. This spacing was well received by schools and colleges in 2022 and reduces the chance of students missing all exams in a subject due to circumstances such as illness.

Take a look at our final timetables.

GCSE French, German and Spanish Paper 4 amendments

Following the highly positive feedback we received about the 2022 summer exam series, we would like to let you know that Ofqual have approved our request to retain the ‘optionality’ amendments made to the French, German and Spanish GCSE Paper 4, Writing.

In summer 2023, and beyond, Paper 4 Writing will now include:

  • A choice of two options for Question 2 on the Foundation Tier.
  • An additional 5 minutes of assessment time on the Foundation Tier paper (originally 1 hour 10 minutes, now 1 hour 15 minutes for French, German and Spanish).
  • Topic titles appearing in English on both Foundation and Higher Tier Writing papers.

This amendment will ensure that our Modern Language assessments remain as accessible as possible for students entering exams in 2023 and beyond, and is in addition to the amendments we previously announced in 2020 for French, German and Spanish qualifications.

AS and A level Politics specification changes

The AS and A level Politics specifications and sample assessment materials have been updated with some minor amendments. You can download the updated versions of the specification and read guidance on the changes on our Politics subject page.

New mock paper for A level Politics

We recently met with a group of Politics teachers to discuss issues relating to our A level Politics assessment arising from the Summer 2022 exam series. Following feedback received this summer we undertook a review of our recent question papers, comparing them to the original sample assessment materials accredited by Ofqual. As a result of this review and the helpful feedback we received, we have decided to put in place the following measures:

  • questions in future live series will more accurately reflect the level of demand of questions in the accredited sample assessment materials.
  • we will use more current teachers in our question paper production process.

A new set of mock papers for A level Politics will be released later this month to exemplify further this recalibration of the level of demand.

Sign up to your Politics Subject Advisor updates from Mark Battye to be sure to hear as soon as they are released.

GCSE History entry code calculator

Our GCSE History entry code calculator is now available for summer 2023!

Select your paper choices via the online form and the calculator will generate the correct entry code for your History (1HI0) candidates for the summer 2023 exam series. Simple to use, just select an option from the relevant page of the calculator, click SUBMIT and you will see the entry code. A code will not be generated if an invalid combination of topics is chosen.

Take me to the GCSE History entry code generator

International GCSEs English Language A (4EA1) and English Literature (4ET1) - Issue 5 anthology

We have published an issue 5 anthology. This corrected a single typing error. There is no need to order new anthologies.

International GCSEs English Language A (4EA1) and English Literature (4ET1) - January exam series

Marks, grades, coursework samples and spoken language endorsement samples must be uploaded to Edexcel Online and the Learner Work Transfer portal by 10 January 2023.

4ET1: paper 1 returns to its usual format including anthology poetry. Students do not require a clean copy of the anthology in the exam.

To get a complete update on these qualifications, including guidance on the changes to 4EA1 for first assessment in June 2024, please access the slides and recordings from the recent network events for English Language A and English Literature

Building on over a decade of delivering onscreen exams worldwide, we believe that onscreen assessment can enhance exam experiences for all and enable students to highlight their skills and strengths in ways they’ve told us suit them.

That’s why we’ve already been pioneering onscreen exams in UK schools where it can have the most impact – from onscreen mocks and real-life coding in GCSE (9–1) Computer Science to rolling out onscreen exams worldwide for International GCSE (9–1) English qualifications.

As every subject, student and school is different, we’re working with schools, employers and policymakers every step of the way on our onscreen journey.

Find out more and be part of the journey.

Every year, we work with over 20,000 Assessment Associates (examiners) to mark, moderate, write and check all the qualifications that we offer across general and vocational qualifications. Being an Assessment Associate with us brings a level of insight into how qualifications work. We regularly hear it is the best CPD that education professionals get. Some of the benefits include:

  • paid to attend training events and meetings
  • discounts on Pearson resources
  • career progression
  • access to a wide variety of free CPD
  • flexible working. 

Have a look at the list of vacancies we have available at present. If you can't see your qualification but are interested, then please do get in touch with us.

The Key Dates Finder on our website enables you to find all of the key dates for Pearson general qualifications and subjects in one place. Here are those taking place in the next few weeks.

Date Qualification Exam Series Description
16/11/2022 GCSE English Language and Mathematics Nov 22 Date of final examination on common timetable
19/11/2022 Project qualifications Jan 23 Amendment fees will be charged from this date
19/11/2022 Project qualifications Jan 23 High late fees will be charged from this date
23/11/2022 GCSE English Language and Mathematics Nov 22 Final date for submitting special consideration requests
24/11/2022 GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Edexcel Award, Entry Level Certificate, L3 Core Maths and Project Jun 23 Basedata issued
10/01/2023 Project qualifications Jan 23 Deadline to submit centre marks and moderation samples
11/01/2023 GCSE English Language and Mathematics Nov 22 Release of results to centres
12/01/2023 GCSE English Language and Mathematics Nov 22 Release of results to candidates

For more information on key dates for post results services please visit our Post-results services key dates web page.

Monthly Exams Officer Zoom sessions

Throughout the 2022/23 academic year, we’ll be hosting a series of online training sessions for Exams Officers. These live events go through news, updates and various other areas to support you in your role over the coming months.

All events are recorded, so if you’re unable to attend you can go back and watch previous events on our support portal.

Take a look at the upcoming session on Tuesday 6 December at 14:00 – 15:00 GMT and book your place.

25 November - Spotlight on Assessment, Service and Support – 2022 and beyond.

Join us at our head office in the Strand, London, for our post-summer review event where we’ll cover the highlights, key trends and outcomes from the summer series. We’ll also be sharing our insights and plans for future developments in assessment. Aimed at UK centres that deliver both GCSE, International GCSE and A level qualifications, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask questions, network with colleagues and the Pearson assessment team.

With guest speaker, Mary Curnock Cook CBE, Chair of the Pearson Education Limited Board, and presentations from assessment experts, we look forward to welcoming you to this event.

Learn more about this event and register today.

We continue to innovate and offer more advanced, digital and integrated support services, tools, and resources to make life easier for teachers and students all year round.

Our services include:

  • ResultsPlus
  • Access to Scripts
  • ExamWizard
  • Mocks Service
  • Pearson Tutoring

Take a look at our short video that highlights our continuous support for all our general qualifications.

Find out more about our Assessment Services and see how they can help you and your students. 

We're delighted to share details of our Pearson Student Diversity Ambassador Programme with you. This programme provides a diverse group of young people with the opportunity to have their voices heard and work together with Pearson to help shape the future of education. The programme is designed to help Student Ambassadors develop their skills and actively prepare for their careers and futures.

Each academic year, students aged from 14-17 years old will apply to take part in the programme. These students will come from different schools across the country and will represent a diverse range of characteristics across gender identity, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, and special education needs.

Find out more and download the pilot report.

Ever wondered how the whole assessment process works? 

We’ve created a series of short videos aimed students, parents, carers and teachers to help them understand how the exam process works. Questions include: the creation of exam papers; how we support students with different needs; through to finding out what happens to your exam papers after they have left your school; who marks your papers; grade boundaries and post-results support.

Take a look at all the videos in the series, pass the link on to your students and look out for more coming soon.

We have a new Subject Advisor! We’re delighted to introduce you to Tim Lawrence, your new psychology Subject Advisor.

Psychology is an extremely popular subject, particularly at A level, and you asked us for more support in this area.

You can contact Tim with your questions via email: You can also sign up to receive Tim’s regular psychology email updates.

Remember to look out for your Subject Advisor newsletters this term. If you’ve not already done so, please do sign up to receive regular communications about your subject area to ensure you have all you need to deliver the qualifications to your students. You can also follow them on Twitter. 

Sign up for your Subject Advisor support

Stay informed with Vocational Qualifications by following @PearsonBTEC, where we will update you with the latest information, or access our FAQ page, which is updated frequently.

For responses to any suggestions or feedback you have for us, please visit our Contact Us page. You can also review our past bulletins if you’ve missed any, or sign up to receive future updates.

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