General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 51

22 November 2023

Dear Colleague, 

Welcome to the November qualifications bulletin. We’ve got an issue packed with lots of new and important information for you to read.

Read more

I’d particularly like to draw your attention to the Ofqual consultation on the use of formulae and equations sheets for 2024. They announced the consultation on 16 November, and it closes on 30 November, so please do read on and have your say on this matter. Ofqual also published updated guidance for schools and colleges, along with a student guide, on 20 November regarding qualification arrangements for 2024.

JCQ have issued new guidance for centres on cyber security in order to safeguard sensitive information, including personal student data, and to protect the integrity of secure assessments. Please do read this important information. And in December of this year, we’re rolling out a major enhancement to our current Edexcel Online Multi- Factor Authentication process to increase the security of our digital interactions.  

The 2024 BETT Award nominations have been announced, and I'm delighted to say we’ve been shortlisted for a Bett award for our remote invigilation pilot with King's InterHigh, where students taking International GCSE and A level exams were able to complete their assessments online – a first in the UK's history. Winners will be announced in January.

As ever, if you need any more information or want to share any feedback with us, you can always get in touch via our support portal. We will always do our best to get you the answers as quickly as possible.

With best wishes,

Hayley White
Vice President, Assessment 

On Thursday 16 November Ofqual announced a consultation on the use of formulae and equations sheets for 2024. 

Ofqual would like to hear your views on whether the use of formulae sheets and revised equation sheets as used in 2022 and 2023 in GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science should be continued for students taking these exams in England in 2024.

On 20 November, Ofqual published its updated guidance for schools, colleges and other exam or assessment centres on qualifications arrangements for 2024. 
On the same day they also published their updated student guide for 2024.The guides cover both GCSEs, AS, A levels, other general qualifications, and vocational and technical qualifications.

JCQ have produced new guidance for centres on cyber security in order to safeguard sensitive information, including personal student data, and to protect the integrity of secure assessments. 

In today's digital landscape, it is crucial to adhere to industry best practices to mitigate the risk of cyber threats. Please read the information provided by JCQ that includes key guidelines that align with industry standards and will help protect your digital assets.

Cyber security is increasingly in the news and deliberate attacks on centres are sadly becoming more common. That’s why Pearson is committed to working with all centres to ensure our digital interactions are as secure and risk-free as possible. 
In December of this year we’re rolling out a major enhancement to our current Edexcel Online Multi- Factor Authentication process.

We will be moving away from the current email One Time Passcode (OTP) and will be asking Edexcel Online users to authenticate via an app on their smartphone or other compatible device. Each account user will use their own device (capable of operating authenticator apps such as Microsoft/ Googleauthenticator). 

We are taking the opportunity to remind colleagues that using apersonal device will not result in Pearson collecting and/ or using anypersonal data, including a mobile phone number. If you need support withaccessing a device, please talk to your centre leadership about how they canbest support you.  

Take a look at our General qualifications assessment support page where you’ll find the latest information and updates from Ofqual, the DfE and JCQ relating to GCSE, AS and A level qualifications.

Ofqual resilience guidance September 2023   
On 21 September 2023, Ofqual published the resilience guidance for centres delivering: GCSE, AS and A levels, Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award in maths (AEA). We’ve put together a summary of this guidance on our new support page with links through to the full information from Ofqual.

Please do encourage your team members to read through this guidance in full.

Ofqual guidance on collecting evidence of student performance to ensure resilience in the qualifications system

Updated JCQ guidance on use of calculators in exams
On 15 September 2023 the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) updated its ‘Instructions for the Conduct of Qualifications’ document for the 2023/24 academic year to provide more clarity to candidates, exam officers and teachers given recent changes in technology. 

In particular, the use of calculators in exams has been updated in Section 10 ‘Using calculators’. The use of calculators applies to a number of different subjects so please do pass this information to all who need to read it.

Full details can be found in the in the booklet Instructions for conducting examinations 2023-2024. There is also a set of FAQs about using calculators on the JCQ website.

Read the full information and guidance 

JCQ General Regulations for Approved Centres (section 5.3, (j) Conflicts of Interest) states that centres must inform the awarding body, before the published deadline for entries, of:

  • any members of centre staff who are taking qualifications at their own centre which include internally assessed components/units
  • any members of centre staff who are teaching and preparing members of their family (which includes step-family, foster family and similar close relationships) or close friends and their immediate family (e.g. son/daughter) for qualifications which include internally assessed components/units.

Please note that when entering members of centre staff for qualifications with internally assessed components at their own centre, this must be as a last resort in cases where the member of centre staff is unable to find another centre.

Declarations can be submitted to us via our Declaration of Interest form 

Centres must also maintain clear records of all instances where:

  • exams office staff have members of their family (which includes step-family, foster family and similar close relationships) or close friends and their immediate family (e.g. son/daughter) being entered for examinations and assessments either at the centre itself or other centres
  • centre staff are taking qualifications at their centre which do not include internally assessed components/units
  • centre staff are taking qualifications at other centres.

If you have any questions regarding declarations of interest, please email conflictofinterest@pearson.com.

Please take a look at EO Support: New Academic Year Essential Information covering important topics, including: 

  • latest JCQ documents and guidance, including this year’s ICE document
  • our 2023/24 Information Manual Entry
  • key dates and guidance
  • and much more!

Changes to Pearson Edexcel GCSE Religious Studies A and B mark scheme level descriptors

We’ve been working with teachers delivering our Pearson Edexcel GCSE Religious Studies A and Religious Studies B qualifications, gathering feedback regarding the mark scheme level descriptors. 

In September we confirmed that we were looking at amending the level descriptors within (d) evaluation questions and we are now delighted to confirm that, following a period of consultation with stakeholders and Ofqual, these amendments have been finalised.  

Having listened to your feedback, we’ve made these changes to provide a better experience for all students by improving accessibility, simplifying language, and clarifying expectations for students and teachers.  

These changes will take effect for first assessment from Summer 2024 and all UK GCSE Religious Studies assessments will use the amended mark schemes.

As the content and skills required in this question remain unchanged, this should not affect your teaching or the way you prepare your students for their exams. Throughout the development, we have been focussed on making changes to lead to the best student exam experience, whilst ensuring minimal disruption to teaching.

You can read the full information about these changes in our Religious Studies subject update

New Exemplar library for GCSE and A level Art and Design 

We’ve launched a new Exemplar Library for GCSE and A level Art and Design - a gallery view of assessed student work to help centres with internal assessment and standardisation.  

GCSE Exemplar Library

A level Exemplar Library

Calling Science Teachers

We are conducting a piece of research around the content in GCSE Science (Combined Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics). This is a great opportunity to share your thoughts on the GCSE science content. Your feedback will allow us to provide additional support and guidance to schools as well as informing any possible amendments to current specifications. As a thank you for taking part in the survey we will send you a £25 Amazon voucher.

We are also looking to get students perspective on the GCSE Science qualifications and would also like you to nominate three or four year 11 students who could take part (all communication would be through the teacher we would not contact students directly). As a thank you for taking part in the survey each student would receive a £10 Amazon voucher.

If you are interested in taking part, please complete our short form

Design and Technology Updated Authentication sheets to include AI statement

Both GCSE and A level Design and Technology Authentication Sheets have been updated to include an AI statement under teacher and candidate declarations. Please access and use these for summer 2024 series NEA submissions.

GCSE Authentication sheet

A level Authentication sheet

Onscreen exams are here and mean more than just switching from paper to a device. They challenge what’s possible and use technology to enhance the exam experience, offering students another way to best show what they know and can do.

Earlier in the year, the 2023 Pearson School Report uncovered that 70% of educators in private secondary schools in England expect more onscreen tests for high-stakes assessment in the next 10 years.

We have already made this a reality with thousands of students taking our onscreen International GCSE exams, building on the digital skills they currently have and will use in future study and the world of work.

What students are calling for

If I had the choice to take an exam onscreen or on paper, I would definitely choose to take it onscreen because I personally feel like I have much more time to plan and get my thoughts straight. And that makes my outcome of a much better quality.”  
Maya Almoataz, Year 11 Student, British School of Bahrain

Onscreen assessments currently available 

Following feedback from students and teachers, even more Pearson Edexcel onscreen exams are available for UK students to sit from 2024:

  • International GCSE English Language A
  • International GCSE English Literature
  • International GCSE Business
  • International GCSE Economics
  • International GCSE History

And from Summer 2025 we will offer:

  • International GCSE Geography

We know that trying something new can be both exciting and daunting, so please speak to us about how we can best support you every step of the way.

Learn more and speak to us

In response to the increased demand for modified exam papers post-pandemic, we’ve been carrying out research in collaboration with the National Association for Special Education Needs (NASEN), launching the Modified Exam Paper Project (MPP). 

We’ve been talking to students that use modified papers to find out their experience, to help us understand their requirements more so that we can make further improvements to future modified papers. We can support your students with a variety of modified formats to accommodate a range of difficulties and special requirements.

Real-life stories like Katherine’s and Arthur’s experiences inspire us to create a more inclusive and accessible educational environment.

Read these inspiring case studies for yourself

Alternatively get in touch at additional_requirements@pearson.com to discuss any special requirements that your students may have.


* Please note student names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

Our 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 during September and early in the autumn term.

Date

Qualification

Exam
series

Description

15 Nov 23

GCSE English Language and Mathematics

Nov 23

Last examination takes place

18 Nov 23

Project and Edexcel Award

Jan 24

High late entry fees and amendment fees will be charged from this date

22 Nov 23

GCSE English Language, GCSE Mathematics and International GCSE

Nov 23

Final date for submitting special consideration requests

23 Nov 23

All qualifications

June 24

Basedata issued

1 Dec 23

A level English 9EN0/03

June 24

sub-topic pre-release issued on our website

3 Dec 23

GCSE Physical Education 1PE0/03 (Full Course) and A level Physical Education 9PE0/03

June 24

Start of moderation window for centre visit and remote moderation. (Centre marks must be submitted on Edexcel Online 15 days prior to the moderation day)

8 Jan 24

GCSE Drama 1DR0 02 and A level Drama 9DR0 02

June 24

Start of practical examination period

10 Jan 24

Project

Jan 24

Deadline to submit centre marks and moderation samples

10 Jan 24

GCSE English Language and Mathematics

Nov 23

Restricted release of results to centres

11 Jan 24

GCSE English Language and Mathematics

Nov 23

Release of results to candidates

24 Jan 24

International GCSE

Nov 23

Restricted release of results to centres

25 Jan 24

International GCSE

Nov 23

Release of results to candidates

25 Jan 24

GCSE English Language and Mathematics

Nov 23

Final date for requesting copies of scripts to support reviews of marking - Access to Scripts Service

30 Jan 24

Project and Edexcel Award

Jan 24

Deadline to submit special consideration requests

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

We're looking for knowledgeable and passionate individuals to become Pearson examiners for the 2024 exam series across a wide range of subjects.

Becoming an examiner is a great way to deepen your subject expertise, spread your assessment knowledge within your department and acquire valuable insights into the assessment process, empowering you to better prepare your learners for their exams. 

You can enjoy the convenience of working remotely, fitting it around your other commitments, and augmenting your income. It can also help you build your professional networks and benefit from opportunities for progression and continuous professional development.

View the current opportunities

Our Subject Advisors do an incredible job supporting teachers, schools and colleges all year round.

Make sure you’re signed up to receive all the latest news and updates from your subject area. And if you’ve not met your Subject Advisor in person, take a look at the videos they’ve done to introduce themselves and hear them speaking about the type of support they provide and the experience they have within their fields. 

Take a look at your Subject Advisor's video and sign up for your subject newsletter today

{{ gatDoctitle }}

{{invalidUserName}}
{{invalidUserMail}}
{{errorMessage}}
×

Are you sure you want to exit this session?