Qualification reform update

Fri Feb 28 15:08:00 UTC 2014

This is an update on the development of new GCSE and A level Geography qualifications.

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Update on new GCSE and A level Geography qualifications

A level reform

New A level Geography specifications across all awarding bodies have been delayed until September 2016 for first teaching.

We will develop a new A level Geography specification for first teaching in September 2016 and first examination in summer 2018 (AS level in 2017). It will be a linear qualification, with AS as a stand-alone qualification that does not contribute to the full A level. Our plans are to enable AS and A level to be co-taught.

The DfE recently announced a consultation on the subject content of new A levels in England. Read the full consultation.

AS and A level specifications in Geography require learners to study core content specified in the subject criteria, which will form 50 per cent of the course content. See the Geography subject criteria below.

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The assessment of quantitative skills in Geography AS and A level will comprise 10 per cent of the whole assessment.To develop their skills, knowledge and understanding in Geography, learners need to have acquired competence.

The consultation raised a number of issues about the proposed content which led to the Secretary of State for Education accepting Professor Mark E Smith's independent recommendation that first teaching of new A level Geography specifications from all awarding bodies should be delayed until September 2016.

Ofqual also recently announced a consultation on the regulation of A levels in England in terms of how they are designed, assessed and regulated. The Ofqual website hosts further information about this consultation, including the proposed assessment objectives. The closing date for this consultation was 17 January 2014.

The key change proposed to to assessment is a non-exam assessment of fieldwork skills with a weighting of 20 per cent.

We've been working on a content and assessment model for the new A level Geography specification, based on these proposals and are now working with the DfE and Ofqual on further development of the the subject criteria as next steps after the consultation. We'll keep you updated on further developments. Please let me know if you'd like to be involved by emailing teachinggeography@pearson.com.

GCSE reform

Ofqual recently announced that, in response to recent consultations, brand new GCSEs in Geography will now be developed for first teaching in September 2016 and first examination in summer 2018.

Only GCSE English and Maths will now be developed for first teaching in September 2015. This means that the recently 'strengthened' GCSE in Geography, for first teaching in September 2012 and first exam in summer 2014, will now run for an additional year, with final exams in summer 2017.

You can read the latest information on the new GCSE subject content and assessment objectives consultation, including draft subject criteria for a new GCSE in Geography.

The proposed key changes for GCSE Geography from September 2016 include:

  • the removal of controlled assessment
  • the removal of tiering
  • the external assessment of fieldwork
  • fieldwork to be undertaken in at least two contrasting environment
  • increased in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Geography of the UK.

We're currently working on a content and assessment model for new GCSEs in Geography based on these proposals and are consulting with as many teachers as possible during this process. We'll keep you updated on further developments. Please let me know if you'd like to be involved by emailing teachinggeography@pearson.com.

You can find a timetable of qualification reform for GCSE and A Level on the Ofqual website.

All the best,

Jon

Jon Wolton, Geography, Leisure, Travel and Tourism subject advisor
Jon WoltonGeography, Travel and Tourism
UK: 020 7010 2185
Intl: +44 (0)20 7010 2185
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