Pearson Edexcel GCSE History Paper 3 Germany Update No. 2
This is an update for centres following the Edexcel GCSE History Paper 3 Weimar and Nazi Germany exam taken on 15 June 2023.
We are committed to ensuring that our exam papers are valid assessments of the specification content and are accessible to students. In this summer's GCSE History Paper 3 Weimar and Nazi Germany exam there were issues identified in the package of sources and interpretations relating to Question 3. We are confident they do not impact upon the validity of the assessment, however we accept some aspects of the package are problematic. We apologise for this, and we have worked closely with our senior examiners ahead of examiner training for this paper to ensure that we can credit all valid responses to these questions.
We would like to thank teachers who have been in touch with us directly to provide feedback on this paper and the assessment of GCSE History more widely. We can assure you that we are listening carefully and are working closely with the senior examiners to take any necessary actions to ensure that students are not impacted by relying on well-established processes and evidence.
Question 3 requires students to have an understanding of cultural changes in Weimar Germany in the years 1924-1929 and specifically targets ‘Cultural changes: developments in architecture, art and the cinema’ from our specification, whilst enabling students to draw on the wider context of the recovery of Weimar. Source B refers to radio, sports and cinema, and whilst the provenance of Source B and its inclusion of cinema are clearly within the remit of the specification, we accept that radio and sport are not specifically mentioned in the key topic this question is drawn from. Radio was important in the wider period, particularly as a powerful propaganda tool used by the Nazis, but we accept that students would not be expected to have specific knowledge of the use of radio in Weimar culture and this will be reflected in the marking of scripts.
We want to reassure centres that students do not need to have any specific knowledge of the use of radio in this period to score highly in this question. Paper 3 Question 3 is a skills-based assessment testing AO3 (Sources) and AO4 (Interpretations) and does not require stand-alone historical knowledge but use of knowledge in context. Students could use knowledge to support inferences about cinema, which is specifically listed in the specification, or by referring more generally to the ‘Golden Years’ of economic recovery which meant people had more disposable income to spend on leisure and cultural activities. From our analysis of student scripts that we have seen, it is clear that they are using a wide range of contextual knowledge to ‘test’ the source and so, as in any other series, any valid contextual knowledge of the wider period is rewardable: this includes Nazi use of radio.
Interpretation 1 refers to Weimar culture in the 1920s, but it also refers to the 1930s which we accept is outside of the date range included in the question. We acknowledge that references to the 1930s in the interpretation encouraged students to bring the 1930s into their own answers and we want to reassure teachers that any use of contextual knowledge from the 1930s to validate the interpretation is valid and will be accepted as such. This would also include Nazi use of radio during Nazi rule as a validation of the power of radio. However, since the question specifically targets the years 1924-29 examiners will not require candidates to go beyond 1929 and students who use the parameters of the enquiry dates will not be penalised for not using evidence outside of the time period in the question.
Interpretation 1 suggests a positive view of changes in culture during the years 1924-29, stressing the developments in mass culture and especially the new developments of the cinema. We acknowledge that mass culture is not directly referenced in the specification, however both cinema and art were media of mass culture during the Weimar Republic and this is covered by the specification through developments in art and the cinema.
Student responses seen so far indicate that students have been able to use this interpretation effectively.
The sources and interpretations were selected to reflect different views of cultural change in the Weimar Republic with an emphasis on positive vs negative/disruptive influences. It is clear from student responses that they are finding valid different views and most are looking at it from this positive vs negative perspective. However, the assessment model for Question 3 assumes that there are different viewpoints that can be gained from the sources and interpretations and there is not only one viewpoint rewardable. Any valid view points are rewardable and any analysis that is valid of culture and cultural change will be rewarded in relation to the mark scheme.
The invaluable feedback provided by teachers means that we have been able to monitor issues of demand from the earliest opportunity and this has been used to inform the standardisation process. There are regulatory processes and procedures set in place to monitor and mitigate any changes in demand. During the standardisation process, as always, the mark scheme is considered and if necessary amended, in the light of student responses.
Entries for GCSE History are made by topic, and this enables us to have specialist markers focusing on each topic. During standardisation we train all examiners marking this paper and they are given clear instructions on how to mark the potential different approaches to this question, along with a range of exemplar scripts. Examiner marking is carefully monitored by senior examiners who check they are applying the mark scheme correctly. Examiners are also able to contact any member of the senior examining team if they are unsure on how to mark a particular student response. If examiners see responses that include messages from candidates to the examiner, alluding to the issues identified on this paper, they are instructed to escalate this to a senior examiner so that the response can be reviewed.
Once all marking is complete for this paper we will carry out detailed statistical analysis to assess the full impact of these issues and the relative demand of this paper compared to previous examination series. This analysis will be used to inform the setting of grade boundaries, along with a careful review of students’ scripts. We award grade boundaries for each topic individually so senior examiners can take this into account as part of that process. Throughout the examination series, we will provide you with updates on this issue and the actions we are taking.
For all our qualifications, we continually revise and reflect on candidate performance and question suitability; this will be the case as we look back on the 2023 series. In light of the issues identified we will undertake a rigorous and comprehensive review and we will share the outcome of this with you in the Autumn.
We can assure you that we are also listening to the wider feedback being given about the Paper 3 assessment, and GCSE History assessment more generally. Your observations on these issues will contribute to an ongoing Pearson five-year review of the qualification, and we are already in communication with teachers about the nature of the qualification’s assessment. We want to engage further with teachers and students on this issue in the coming weeks and months.
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