September 2023 Religious Studies subject update | Pearson qualifications

September 2023 Religious Studies subject update

22 September 2023

Welcome to your Pearson Edexcel Religious Studies September 2023 subject update!

Hello colleagues,

Welcome back!  I hope the new academic year is running smoothly so far and that you had a rejuvenating summer break (however long ago that may now seem)!  

Within this subject update, I've included a range of useful information and guidance documents to support you with the start of the school year. Please do get in touch with me if you have any queries or I can help with anything over this period.  

Best wishes, 

Susan Currey

Religious Studies Subject Advisor 

Read more

If you have any questions, then please do contact me:

☎ Call: 0344 463 2535

✉ Email: TeachingReligiousStudies@pearson.com

💻 Book a Teams meeting with me: https://bit.ly/3rEVLx8

This update includes:

Post-results support

  • Grade boundaries
  • Grade statistics
  • Examiner reports
  • ResultsPlus
  • Access to Scripts
  • Review of Results

2024 exam timetables

  • GCSE
  • A level
  • International GCSE

Teaching & Learning support

  • Topic of the Month
  • Shia Islam Textbook (RE Online)
  • Exam question overviews
  • CPD events

GCSE

  • (d) evaluation level descriptors review
  • CPD events
  • Upcoming specification content review

International GCSE

  • Modular International GCSEs
  • Exam question overviews

Enrichment opportunities

  • Ethics cup

Post-results services

Grade boundaries identify marks required to achieve each grade. They are set for each exam series to ensure answers of the same quality achieve the same grade across series. 

Grade boundaries are set for each exam series based on the performance of individual papers and qualifications within that series. These vary year on year due to a range of factors and this is the same for all subjects.  This is expected as each paper is looked at individually based on its questions/answers and the cohort that year.  

Grade boundaries for each paper are set by senior examiners who check the quality of students’ responses at key boundaries.

You can see grade boundaries for each exam series on our website by selecting the appropriate qualification.  

The link to this webpage can be found on the right, but the grade boundary documents for each qualification time are included below:

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To support you further, I've include two guides to help understand grade boundaries within UK and International qualifications:

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This guide explains the approach all exam boards have taken to grading for summer 2023 exams, explaining the progress of setting grade boundaries and reviewing the quality of student work.  

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This guide explains the approach taken to grading, for our international qualifications, for summer 2023 exams, explaining the progress of setting grade boundaries and reviewing the quality of student work.  

Grade statistics summarise the overall grade outcomes of candidates sitting Pearson examinations.  This means they indicate how many students achieved each grade within that exam series. You can then compare the percentage of students achieving each grade against your centre data. These are provisional until the review of results period is complete but can be a useful indication of the outcomes students achieved. 

For 2023, Ofqual advised that we would be returning to pre-pandemic grade outcomes so you can compare 2019 outcomes against 2023.

This year, senior examiners were pleased with how students responded to the exams.  

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Examiner reports are available now on the qualification pages, under 'course materials' and then 'exam materials'. These provide feedback from the principal examiner for each paper on how the exam papers performed, discussing each question across the paper, with prudent advice and exemplar answers with commentary.  

You can also use our free Access to Scripts service to view your candidates’ marked exam scripts online or download as a PDF. It is available from results day until the 15 December 2023.

Providing a rich source of information, you can use this service to help make decisions about requesting a review of marking, but it can also help inform future teaching and learning and give insights and visibility that performance data alone cannot provide. 

If scripts have been marked ‘traditionally’ (ie not online), you will need to request them, free of charge, by 15 December 2023, via the Post Results section of Edexcel Online as in previous exam series. 

Note, you will need 'Exam viewer' in your Edexcel Online profile if you want to download candidate scripts from results day. Please ask your Exams Officer if you need this adding to your profile.

Discover more about Access to Scripts, along with FAQs and a step-by-step User Guide.

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Please note, candidate consent is required before requesting script copies, as per section 4.2 of the JCQ's Post-results services guide. Candidate consent can only be obtained after results have been published.

If you're a centre with a concern about a student's results, you may choose to request a review of results. We have different services available and have included two guidance documents to help support you.  

ResultsPlus and Access to Scripts can help you understand your results and examiner marking. This can guide your decision on applying for a review of results. 

The deadline for reviews of marking and moderation is the 28 September 2023

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This guide supports understanding students’ results.  

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This guide explains the different services available for review of results

AS and A level Religious Studies

We have collated all Edexcel A level Religious Studies past questions across years for each paper (from SAMs - 2023).  

This provides an overview of the different questions asked on different papers over the qualification cycle so you can see how a topic has been assessed in different ways across the cycle.  

Each overview is available on our A level qualification page under 'Teaching and Learning' then 'Assessment materials'.

Exam question overview

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*You will need your Edexcel Online login details to access these as they contain 2023 exam materials.  

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Event Date Description Booking link
A level 'New to Edexcel' On-demand This free pre-recorded session will provide you with the information you need to introduce you to Religious Studies, A level with Pearson Edexcel. Access on-demand training
A level 'Feedback from 2023 Exams' On-demand This pre-recorded session will provide a big picture overview of senior examiner feedback from the summer 2023 exam series Available soon
A level 'Assessment and Marking'

21/11/23

(16:00-18:00)

This free online session is designed for teachers who want to understand and apply marking principles for AS and A Level Religious Studies. Booking link

GCSE Religious Studies (Specifications A and B)

On the 7th September, we sent out a communication regarding updating our level descriptors.  

You can read this communication at the following link:

GCSE (d) evaluation level descriptors communication

We are hoping to be able to share further information with you soon and will release further information in future Religious Studies subject updates.  

Following feedback from centres, this year we will be running our GCSE exam feedback events as pre-recorded sessions so that centres people can access these at a time convenient for them.  

Running these as a pre-record also means that our senior examining team can deliver the training directly (as senior examiners cannot run live training events with teachers). 

Event Date Description Booking link
GCSE Specification A 'Feedback from 2023 Exams' On-demand This pre-recorded session will provide a big picture overview of senior examiner feedback from the summer 2023 exam series across papers for Specification A Available soon
GCSE Specification B 'Feedback from 2023 Exams'

On-demand

This pre-recorded session will provide a big picture overview of senior examiner feedback from the summer 2023 exam series across papers for Specification B Available soon

We are also finalising our planned training events for GCSE Religious Studies currently.  We are hoping to be able to share details soon and will publish information about these in our future subject updates.  

Coming soon...

We are in the process of looking at making some small updates in our GCSE content in both Specifications A and B to improve clarity.  Many of these changes are minor and will have minimal impact on teaching and learning.  

Once finalised, the updated specification content will be published within these subject updates alongside clear indication of the minor changes made.  

International GCSE Religious Studies

International centres now have the option to enter students for a modular or a linear GCSE in Religious Studies.  

  • The linear journey remains exactly as it is, two years of study with exams at the end.
  • Modular International GCSEs break the journey into units with an exam at the end of each unit, when the student feels prepared and ready.

Whichever route you choose, the exams take the same amount of time, teachers spend the same amount of time teaching, and everyone has the best chance of success at international GCSE.

What does modular mean for IG Religious Studies?

  • Each unit can be taken in any GCSE exam series
  • Students can take and resit individual unit assessments
  • Students 'cash-in' their units when they are ready

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To find out more about modular International GCSEs, you can read about these on our webpage:

Modular International GCSEs

For Religious Studies, you can access further information specific to the route you choose:

Linear IG Religious Studies qualification page

Modular IG Religious Studies qualification page

We have collated all Edexcel International GCSE Religious Studies past questions across years for each paper (from SAMs - 2023).  

This provides an overview of the different questions asked on different sections over the qualification cycle so you can see how a topic has been assessed in different ways across the cycle.  

Each overview is available on our IG RS qualification page under 'Teaching and Learning' then 'Assessment materials'.

Exam question overview

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*You will need your Edexcel Online login details to access these as they contain 2023 exam materials.  

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2024 Exam Timetables

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It may seem like the summer 2023 exam series has only just finished, but looking ahead to our next Religious Studies exam series, we have released our final summer exam timetables. 

You can access these for exam qualification below:

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Teaching and Learning Support

Every month, we release an edition of 'Topic of the Month' with the aim of supporting cultural capital and stimulating discussion within the classroom. 

Each edition ties a current news event to our qualification content and enables students to see the bigger picture of what they are learning and how it relates to the world around them.  Each edition includes a link to an article alongside some key discussion questions to encourage thought around the subject.  

This month looks the work of charities who provide support to families in the UK. 

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*You will need your Edexcel Online login details to access these as they contain 2023 exam materials.  

TOTM

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RE:Online regularly features a 'resource of the month'.  This month this is a free textbook about Shia Islam for GCSE. This is tailored to the GCSE specification, but would be useful for all teachers to gain useful information about Shia Islam.

It aims to be accessible to teachers and students and this is a fantastic resource for those teaching Islam at GCSE and want to support their subject knowledge in this area.  

Enrichment opportunities

The Ethics Cup is a tournament which involves teams of secondary students discussing ethical issues of public concern.  It’s not a debating competition and isn’t won by proving the opposing side wrong.

Any school, state or independent, experienced or inexperienced, is encouraged to participate, and they make special accommodation for schools that serve less privileged areas. No special classes or clubs need to be organised; there are lots of materials on this site to help get yourself or your students prepared.

The Cup is a project of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, a research centre within the Department of Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews.

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