More than half of new exam courses still not ready

Grade boundaries

Fewer than half of the new GCSE and A-level specifications – which English schools will begin teaching in September – have been officially approved, it has been revealed.

Ofqual has provided figures regarding the courses, which show that out of 156, just 66 have received official approval so far, with teachers expressing their disappointment over the lack of courses that are ready.

A significant overhaul of the exam system for GCSEs and A-levels is underway, after the government came up with new plans to toughen-up both qualifications. These reforms are being introduced gradually, and those new courses being introduced in September are the second wave of courses being introduced.

History, geography, biology, chemistry and physics, which all make up some of the government’s English Baccalaureate, are among those to see new courses introduced in September.

Some subjects, such as GCSE music and computer science, are completely ready, Ofqual’s website says, but there are clearly still big gaps that need filling yet.

“It’s the second week of March and teachers are still waiting to find out what they are being expected to teach children in September,” said Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

“How are teachers supposed to prepare for teaching these new qualifications in September when they haven’t had the opportunity to plan their curricula and develop materials based on the new specifications?”

“How will young people be able to decide which GCSEs or A-levels they want to study when they won’t know until late this academic year what the content and assessment will be for the courses starting in September?”

“The delay is particularly worrying because none of the science GCSEs have been accredited and several of the GCSE EBacc subjects have not been accredited,” she continued.