General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 43
Welcome to our March bulletin. As we begin to see the lighter evenings creeping in and the spring bulbs flowering, I really do hope the weather begins to warm up as we head towards the Easter break.
Next week, I’ll be attending BETT 2023 in London, which runs from 29–31 March. On Friday 31 March, I’m delighted to say that I’ll be presenting a session at 12:40pm on ‘Making onscreen exams reality: how students & school leaders are paving the way’. This is an incredibly exciting time for onscreen assessment, and I’m really looking forward to delivering this session and seeing many of you there.
I’m also proud to say that Pearson has been nominated for two BETT Awards.
Firstly, for Transformational Impact: in 2022, we became the first exam board to provide International GCSE students with high-stakes exams onscreen, rather than on paper, resulting in onscreen assessment now being available for all schools taking Pearson Edexcel International GCSE (9–1) English qualifications.
Secondly, for Collaboration with a School, and the development of our Mocks Moderation Service with the Greenshaw Trust.
You can read more about our BETT nominations in our blog post.
But before we get there, we’ve got a packed issue of the bulletin to help support you and your students for summer 2023, including:
- a reminder about the Edexcel Online password reset;
- guidance from JCQ on centre contingency plans for the summer;
- guidance from Ofqual for students for summer 2023;
- exam tips for students;
- support for exams officers with information on modified papers 3D models, plus the stationery and materials spreadsheet;
- question paper despatch dates;
- security of exam papers;
- news on the International GCSE November 2023 exam series;
- subject updates and more.
As always, we are keen to hear your feedback, so please do get in touch with us as we’d love to hear from you.
With best wishes,
You may be aware that we asked all Edexcel Online users to reset their password when logging into the system on or after 7 March 2023 to maintain the security of our systems and safeguard important centre and learner data.
We had a great response to this, and we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has already reset their password.
If you’ve not yet logged in to Edexcel Online since 7 March, you will be asked to select a new password. Your existing password will automatically be cancelled from this date and therefore you must use the ‘Forgot password’ link to reset your password.
Please do not use the ‘Change password’ link, as this will not enable you reset your password correctly.
Please take a look at our guide to the standard password reset process.
- Your password needs to be between 8 and 15 characters in length and contain at least one number.
- We recommend you use a combination of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols (- _ @ .) for extra security.
If you reset your password before 7 March, you’ll still need to set a new password which meets these requirements the next time you do log in.
This password reset is the first step in a sequence of additional security measures we’re introducing in order to protect you, your centre and your learners’ data. Thank you for your support in helping us to enhance security.
If you have any questions or if you would like to speak to us directly, you can get in touch with any questions via our Support Portal.
In our previous two bulletins we provided information on the contingency dates that have been built into the GCSE, AS and A level summer exam timetables in the UK.
As a reminder, for June 2023, there will now be two additional half-day contingency sessions. These are on Thursday 8 June 2023 and Thursday 15 June 2023. The standard contingency day remains at the end of the timetable on Wednesday 28 June 2023.
Schools and colleges should ensure candidates and parents are aware of the contingency arrangements on these three days, and candidates should be encouraged to remain available until Wednesday 28 June 2023, should examinations need to be rescheduled.
Centre contingency planning: JCQ guidance
In case of disruption to the exam system, all centres must have contingency plans in place. There are three main categories of disruption:
- Candidates at risk of being unable to take examinations; centres remain open.
- Centres at risk of being unable to open as normal during the examination period.
- Disruption to transporting completed examination scripts.
You should review your own centre contingency plans well ahead of the summer exam series to make sure they remain up to date and appropriate.
You should ensure that your contingency plans cover a range of scenarios, including the absence of key members of staff at exam time, disruption to power supplies or local transport networks, and extreme weather, including extreme heat.
We know that most centres will be well advanced with their invigilator recruitment at this stage. If your recruitment is not yet complete, you might want to consider using the NAEO exams recruitment and vacancy map for any remaining vacancies. You should also ensure that you have contingency plans in place in the event that you experience a shortfall of invigilation staff on a particular day. If your contingency plans include the use of centre staff, you should consider putting a training plan in place ahead of the exam series to ensure that all relevant staff are familiar with the requirements for invigilators.
Full information about the support available for 2023 can be found on our Summer 2023 support page. This includes information and outcomes for all the autumn consultations undertaken by Ofqual.
GCSE formulae and equation sheets now available
The DfE confirmed in November that, in 2023, students are not required to memorise formulae for GCSE Maths and equations for GCSE Physics and Combined Science.
You can download the new sheets at the links below:
For summer 2023, we will also be providing equations sheets for International GCSE Physics. You can download these at the links below. For International GCSE Maths, the equations required will be included in the actual exam papers.
- International GCSE Physics
- International GCSE Science (Single Award)
- International GCSE Science (Double Award)
Supporting resilience in the exam system in 2023
Whilst the UK government does not expect to ever be in a position where exams are cancelled nationally and alternative assessment arrangements are required, good public policy means having contingency, even for extremely unlikely scenarios.
Ofqual has therefore provided guidance for all schools and colleges on the steps they should take to collect and retain evidence in the academic year 2022 to 2023 in the unlikely event that exams cannot go ahead as planned.
This guidance covers GCSEs, AS and A levels, Project qualifications, and the Advanced Extension Award (AEA) in Mathematics.
Ofqual have produced a guide for students that provides information about the arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A levels and vocational qualifications in England this summer. It also explains what support is in place when taking exams and assessments.
Exam tips for students
As the revision season is now fully under way and students begin to turn their focus towards the summer exam series, we’ve put together a Getting ready for exams guide that includes some top tips and advice including:
- preparing for exams;
- what happens on exam day;
- where to find further support;
- what happens once exams are over.
Take a look at the guide and please pass it on to your students.
Stay up to date with all our support for 2023 on our Summer 2023 support page.
Modified papers: models | May/June 2023 exams
We have been communicating with you over the last few months regarding the provision of 3D models with our modified large-print Maths papers. This communication has been sent to the member of staff at your centre who has placed any orders for modified large-print Maths papers on Access Arrangements Online.
We will no longer be automatically supplying 3D models with the modified large-print Maths papers.
If your centre has placed an order for modified large-print papers for Maths, then please complete this form to indicate whether your candidate requires the use of 3D models. This form will be closed on 7 April 2023.
If you do not respond by 7 April 2023 no models will be sent to your centre.
If you require any further information regarding this, please contact the Modified Formats team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer 2023 stationery and materials list
The stationery and materials spreadsheet for the summer 2023 exam series is now available on our website. The stationery and materials list provides information on the stationery and equipment required for our general qualification examinations in the next series. The list is provided as a spreadsheet which you can download and filter to your requirements.
You can also read further guidance on exam stationery and materials on our support portal.
JCQ hints and tips for exams officers: entries
JCQ have recently published a guide with hints and tips to help exams officers when making entries for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications across all exam boards.
Looking ahead to the summer series, here’s an update on when you will start receiving exam materials.
You can expect to start receiving your oral materials for your language oral exams from Monday 20 March onwards.
You can expect to start receiving standard and modified question papers from the following dates:
- Edexcel Award exams: from 20 April
- General qualification exams taking place in May and up until 6 June: from 27 April
- General qualification exams taking place from 7 June onwards: from 19 May
You will be able to track your standard question paper despatch for general qualifications via Edexcel Online.
If you have any concerns that your centre will be closed for the Easter holidays and you will therefore be unable to take receipt of question papers, please contact us by 31 March so that we can rearrange your delivery.
An interactive training session on question paper security is available on our on-demand e-Learning page.
The yellow label service will be in place for this summer series for centres in England to return scripts. Please read the yellow label service guidance for exams officers on the government website.
You can expect to start receiving attendance registers and labels from 20 April.
As we head towards the summer exam series, we’d like to remind you that question paper security remains essential to the smooth running of exams in your centre and for the wider cohort.
You can find bitesize on-demand training on question paper security on our website. This training module covers the importance of question paper security, how to securely handle question papers from receiving the papers right through to returning the completed scripts to Pearson, and how to recognise and report a question paper breach.
The entry deadline for UK centres for GCSE, International GCSE, AS and A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths and Project qualifications has now passed. Please note that any entries you make now will be charged the late entry fee.
Further key dates are listed in the Key Dates section below.
When making entries, please remember to enter students as private candidates if they are not receiving tuition at your centre. This includes resit students if they are not receiving tuition at the time the entry is made. A candidate cannot be both internal and private at the same centre for the same series.
Entering private candidates correctly will ensure that they can receive support directly from Pearson when appropriate, for example when accessing the review of marking or appeals processes.
We're introducing a regular International GCSE November series, first running in November 2023. The November series is being introduced to best meet the needs of students requiring International GCSE exam opportunities outside of the full May/June series, and it will replace the existing January series from 2024. This will result in just May/June and November series going forward for International GCSE.
Why are we moving to a November exam series?
Due to the pandemic, circumstances meant that we needed to follow a November International GCSE exam series in 2020, 2021 and 2022. As the November series seemed to be well received, we consulted schools to understand whether there was a preference for a permanent November exam series or reverting to January.
November was the preferred option for most schools; not just for resits, but also for learners studying on a January–December academic year.
We have a few subject updates to share with you this month. Please take a look at the information provided below and use the links to find out more.
Future improvements to GCSE Geography A and B
As part of our ongoing review of our qualifications, we've looked at the level of demand and accessibility of our GCSE Geography specifications and assessments and in response to this, we’re exploring making improvements. Read the details.
GCSE Science update
Submission of the Head Teacher declaration form is required by 15 April. Read about this and more in the full March Science update.
Writing answers in the correct space in exams. Read more.
GCSE Design and Technology
A diverse future! Find out more about the updates to the GCSE Design and Technology specification.
New GCSE French, German and Spanish specifications
We'd love to see you at one of our upcoming launch events so you can find you more about the key features of our 2024 Pearson Edexcel MFL specifications and assessments. Read more in the March Languages update.
Entries are now open for the Be the Future social enterprise challenge. The closing date is 9 June 2023. Read about this and more in the March Business update.
A level and GCSE Drama
Component 2 update: the window will run until 31 March 2023. Read more in the March Drama, Theatre and Performing Arts subject update.
The Key Dates Finder 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.
|17/03/2023||A level Biology A 9BN0/03||Jun 23||Pre-release material issued on our website|
|21/03/2023||GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths and Project qualification||Jun 23||Deadline to request transferred candidate arrangements|
|27/03/2023||International GCSE Chinese, French, German and Spanish and English as a Second Language||Jun 23||Speaking tests may begin|
|31/03/2023||A level Drama 9DR0/02 and GCSE Drama 1DR0/02||Jun 23||End of practical examination window|
|31/03/2023||GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths and Project qualification||Jun 23||Deadline to submit applications for access arrangements|
|14/04/2023||International GCSE, Edexcel Award and Project qualification||Jan 23||Date by which certificates will be issued|
|15/04/2023||Level 3 Core Maths||Jun 23||Source booklet for Paper 1 available to download from our website|
|17/04/2023||AS & A level Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish||Jun 23||Speaking tests may begin|
|17/04/2023||GCSE Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu||Jun 23||Speaking tests may begin|
|21/04/2023||GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths, Entry Level Certificate and Project qualification||Jun 23||Last day that withdrawn entries will be refunded|
|22/04/2023||GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths, Entry Level Certificate and Project qualification||Jun 23||Amendment fees will be charged from this date|
|22/04/2023||GCSE, International GCSE, AS & A level, AEA, Entry Level Certificate, Level 3 Core Maths, Entry Level Certificate and Project qualification||Jun 23||High late entry fees will be charged from this date|
For more information on key dates for post results services please visit our Post-results services key dates web page.
Monthly Exams Officer Update live sessions
Throughout the 2022/23 academic year, we’ll be hosting a series of online events 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.
The next event will be on Thursday 20 April, 14:00–15:00; register here if you'd like to attend.
Attention all experienced professionals in the fields of economics, politics, psychology, and business! We are currently searching for qualified examiners to join our team.
As an examiner, you will have the opportunity to use your expertise to evaluate and assess students in your field of specialization. You’ll play a crucial role in ensuring that our exams provide a fair and accurate measure of students' knowledge and skills.
If you have a degree in economics, politics, psychology, business, or a related field, along with a strong understanding of the subject matter and relevant industry experience, we would love to hear from you.
As an examiner, you will have the flexibility to work remotely and on a schedule that works for you. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that your expertise is helping to shape the next generation of professionals in your field.
If you’re interested in joining our team as an examiner, please take look the list of vacancies. If you can't see your qualification but are interested, then please get in touch with us.
Some of the benefits of becoming an examiner include:
- paid to attend training events and meetings;
- discounts on Pearson resources;
- career progression;
- access to a wide variety of free CPD;
- flexible working.
With the summer series on the horizon, now is the time to make sure you’re signed up for your Subject Advisor updates.
All our Subject Advisors are here to support and help you as you teach our qualifications. They all send out regular newsletters with information, support and reminders about your subject area. Make sure you’re signed up to ensure you have all you need to deliver the qualifications to your students.
Visit our new Vocational Teaching, Learning and Assessment page to find out about the enhanced support we’re offering for BTEC in 2023. Stay informed with vocational qualifications by following @PearsonBTEC, where we will update you with the latest information.