Following consultations published before the summer and a slew of announcements in between, the Department for Education and Ofqual have today published final plans for new GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Maths, to be taught from September 2015 and assessed and awarded for the first time in 2017.
The plans haven’t changed much from the proposals put out to consultation in June so there aren’t too many big surprises. The exception is Maths GCSE, which is to increase significantly in size. This means a greater amount of content, which will almost certainly need more teaching time, and more assessment too. Otherwise things are roughly as expected – new grades will run from 1 to 9 (with 9 the highest) to allow for more differentiation, Maths will continue to have two overlapping tiers, and there won’t be any internal assessment except for speaking and listening in English which will, as now, be reported separately as an ‘endorsement’ on the certificate. And most importantly, these new GCSEs will be ‘harder’ – the standard will be higher. That means it will be more difficult to get a ‘good pass’ (a C grade today) and to get the top grade. What we don’t know yet is how much harder – more on which later.