February 2024 Teaching Science update

7 February 2024

Welcome to the February update for teachers delivering Pearson Edexcel Science qualifications. In this update you can find key dates for making entries and the submission of practical statements and assessment records. You will also find information on GCSE and A level events taking place in March, and other news and support that I hope you find useful. 

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Summer 2024 entry deadline

The deadline for making entries for the Summer 2024 examination series is 21 February 2024 for AS, A level and GCSE. For international qualifications it is  21 March 2024. After these dates late entry fees may be charged. Please note that your exams officer will have their own internal deadlines in order to get the information necessary to make entries. You can find entry codes on our website.

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GCSE Science news and support

To help schools make decisons on which tier to enter their students for GCSE Sciences we provide a  'Support for Tier Entry decisions' guide that is available on the link below. As a reminder, for foundation tier students can be awarded grades 5 to 1 (5-5 to 1-1 in Combined Science).  And for higher tier, students can be awarded grades 9 to 4 (9-9 to 4-4 in Combined Science). If a student just misses a grade 4 (4-4 for Combined Science) they may be awarded a grade 3 (4-3 for Combined Science).  If enough marks are not achieved to get a grade, a ‘U’ will be awarded.

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05 March 2024 at 16:00 - 17:30 GMT | Free

YouTuber and physics expert Lewis Matheson will be presenting some key ideas to help improve physics delivery for the GCSE Combined Science Physics content, especially if you are a non-specialist teacher. The session will include: Five key topics of physics that are often hard to teach/understand; Ways to approach each topic if you are teaching it for the first time, or you are a non-specialist teacher; Examples of practical approaches that enhance the material; Preparing students for questions on each topic to build confidence; Tips and tricks to help students with the inevitable equations that many find challenging.

Centres must also confirm that students have completed the mandatory core practicals by completing and submitting a GCSE Head Teacher declaration form. You can access the Head Teacher declaration form, along with accompanying FAQs, from the links below. 

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The declaration form should be submitted to Pearson via our online form by 15th April in the year of certification.

Any failure by centres to provide the declaration will be treated as malpractice and/or maladministration.

To aid teaching and learning of practicals skills we have new GCSE Science Core Practical 'SHORTS' videos - created to be student friendly recap videos.

Students sitting GCSE Physics and GCSE Combined Science will be provided with an equation sheet in Summer 2024 exams. This was confirmed by Ofqual in December following their consultation outcome on equation and formula sheets. 

The equation sheet will be provided as an insert in the exam papers, as it was in the Summer 2023 examination series. It is also possible to view and download the equation sheet from the Pearson Science qualification page so students can become familiar with it ahead of their exams.

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During the Autumn term we hosted Summer 2023 feedback events that looked at how students performed in the summer exams and provided guidance on how to address feedback provided in examiners' reports. We now have Combined Science Chemistry and Physics videos of these events that can be accessed from the Science Emporium YouTube channel.

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GCSE Astronomy

For GCSE Astronomy students must undertake at least one unaided and one aided observation from the selection listed in the specification. This list also provided our Observations Skills Guide.  It is important to realise that these mandatory observations are the minimum number of observations that should be taken during the course. Students will need to use their knowledge and understanding of observational techniques and procedures in the written assessments. As always, centres are responsible for ensuring appropriate safety procedures are followed whenever their students complete observational activities.

Centres must also confirm that each student has completed at least one unaided and one aided observation by completing and submitting an Observation Statement. This must be submitted to Pearson by 15th April in the year of certifications. Any failure by centres to provide this Observation Statement will be treated as malpractice and/or maladministration.

The updated statement that should be used this year,  now includes a statement about AI use and can be found on the link below.

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The completed observation statement needs to be uploaded and submitted to Pearson via our online form.


ELC

The final date for submitting marks and samples for ELC assessments is 15 May* in the year of certification. This is the date by which you must have submitted your ELC assessment marks to us via Edexcel Online, and also have sent in your sample of student work for the moderator.

*Please note that your Exams Officer may have their own internal deadlines that you may need to take into account.

Our updated assessment record forms that need to be used this year can be found on the links below. They now include a statement about AI use. We also have provide guidance on submitting samples.

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A level news and support

We are running events this Spring term for teachers delivering the Pearson Edexcel A Level Science specifications. As these events delegates will: look at how our question papers are designed to test the specification contentunderstand how and why markers are standardised to mark exam papers; see some examples of mark schemes applied to recent exam questions; consider some strategies to improve how students respond to exam questions; address common issues and FAQs.

Dates and times for these events are as follows:

  • Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology A: Understanding our exams 04 March 2024 at 16:00 - 18:00 GMT
  • Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology B: Understanding our exams 05 March 2024 at 16:00 - 18:00 GMT
  • Pearson Edexcel A Level Chemistry: Understanding our exams 05 March 2024 at 16:00 - 18:00 GMT
  • Pearson Edexcel A Level Physics: Understanding our exams 07 March 2024 at 16:00 - 18:00 GMT

Please note: a recording of the event will be available to attendees only.

Centres are required to sign and send in the A level Science Head Teacher form by the 15 May to declare that students have completed the practical activities that meet the practical Endorsement requirements of the A level science specifications. You can access the Headteacher declaration form, along with accompanying CPAC FAQs, from the link below. The form has been updated this year with a statement on AI use.

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The completed Head Teacher declaration form should be submitted online to Pearson via the form below. 

A ‘Pass’ (P) or ‘Not Classified’ (NC) decision for each student should also be submitted on Edexcel Online by 15 May. This can be done through the  'coursework marks' option on Edexcel Online.

Note, Edexcel Online (EOL) access and profile permissions are set by the Exams Officer at each centre. If the Exams Officer requires any support with EOL then our Exams Officer support team can be contacted on 0344 463 2535.

To support centres with practical work we provide A level Core Practical Guides and practical playlists for each A level Science qualification. These are located on the 'Teaching and Learning Materials' pages.

The Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology 9BN0 (SNAB) Paper 3 scientific article for the Summer 2024 series will be issued our website mid-March.


International qualifications news and support

The Ofqual announcement above relates specifically to UK GCSE qualifications, but the same approach is being taken for International GCSE Physics, and International GCSE Science Double and Science Single Awards (physics papers) where students will also have access to a revised equation sheet for Summer 2024 exams. The equation sheets for these qualifications will be uploaded on the qualification pages soon. In the meantime, the equation sheets used in 2023 can be referred to for exam practice and revision. Links to these are provided below.

You can view current training opportunities and also look out for new training on our Professional Development Academy page.

We will soon be introducing modular International GCSE specifications for overseas students. The specifications will be available to view in April. More information can be obtained from the link below. 

These modular qualifications are for first teaching from September 2024 with first assessment May/June 2025.

The present linear specifications are not being removed and will continue to be available. There will simply be a choice between the existing specifications following the linear assessment route, or the new specifications, that will follow a modular assessment route. Please note, the modular assessment route will not be available for students based in the UK.


Assessment and services

Timetables for this academic year are available on our website. We have also published our provisional timetables for Summer 2025 that can be found on our Provisional timetables web page. A consultation window for the provisional timetables will run from Monday 22nd January to Friday 23rd February. Please send any feedback you may have to Timetables@Pearson.com

This academic year we have a general qualifications assessment support page. Here you can find news information and updates from Ofqual, the Department for Education (DfE), the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and Pearson that relate to exams and assessments for our GCSE, AS and A level qualifications. It will be updated regularly with the latest announcements, news, support materials and updates to enable you to teach our qualifications and help your students with assessments and post-results support. Pearson general qualifications bulletins are also sent regularly providing you with key information and updates on our qualifications and assessments for both UK and International centres. You can sign-up to receive these from the link below.

In June 2023 we introduced Multi-factor Authentication as 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 last year we rolled 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/ Google authenticator).

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


JCQ guidance

The JCQ have recently updated their guidance on the 'Use of AI in Assessments' document. This guidance is designed to help students and teachers to complete NEAs, coursework and other internal assessments successfully.   

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' and a set of FAQs about using calculators on the JCQ website.


Examiner vacancies

Principal Examiners (IAL Biology WBI13/WBI16) produce appropriate assessment materials, including question papers and mark schemes, and are responsible for the standardisation of its marking.  

The closing date for applications is midnight on 26th February 2024.. More information can be found on the link below.

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.


BTEC news

You can read the latest BTEC Teaching Science update on the link below.

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