Michael Gove: New GCSEs will be more challenging and rigorous

A*-to-G grades set to be replaced with numbered system

Education Secretary Michael Gove today pledged “more ambitious and more rigorous” GCSE exams as he outlined outlined the biggest shake-up to the exam since it was first introduced 25 years ago.

His proposals will see a return to a more traditional syllabus for the exam - with more weight given to 19th century authors like Dickens and Jane Austen, concentration on spelling, grammar and punctuation and a boost to Latin and Greek.

In addition, Ofqual - the exams regulator - is consulting over a radical change to the grading system which would make it harder for pupils to get top grade passes.

Instead of the current A* to G grade system, pupils will be awarded points on a scale of one to eight with six, seven and eight being reserved for those who would have got A* or A grades under the present system.

Mr Gove told the Commons: “The new specifications are more challenging, more ambitious and more rigorous.

“That means more extended writing in subjects like English and history, more testing of advanced problem-solving skills in mathematics and science... and a greater focus on foreign language composition so that pupils will require deeper language skills.”

Latin and Greek will be used to help pupils learn the derivation of English words - and understand the formal syntax, punctuation and grammar used by the ancient languages.

Mr Gove's proposals will also see the virtual ending of coursework and controlled assessment - whereby teachers mark their own pupils’ work - in favour of the old O-level style end of course examination.

His proposals came in for heavy criticism from teachers’ leaders and opposition MPs who were worried about the haste with which the proposals were being implemented.  The new syllabus will be taught in most core subjects from September 2015 with pupils first sitting the new exams in the summer of 2017.

“The haste with which Michael Gove is pushing through huge simultaneous changes to both exams and the curriculum carries major risks that will put last summer’s GCSE debacle into the shade,” said Mary Bousted, general secretary of the association of Teachers and Lecturers.

“We particularly feel for the children in their first year of secondary school who are going to be Mr Gove’s guinea pigs.

“They will have a single year when they are 13 and the move straight into the new and untested GCSE exam syllabus at age 14.”

She added: “We have serious concerns that the new style GCSE will not give all children the chance to demonstrate what they have learned and will particularly disadvantage children with difficult home lives.  End of course exams on a single day test recall and memory rather than the range of skills that young people need in the 21st century.”

What pupils must learn

ENGLISH LITERATURE:

* At least one play by Shakespeare

* A selection of Romantic poetry

* At least one 19-th century novel

* Poetry from 1850 to 1980.

* British fiction, poetry or drama since the First World War

ENGLISH LANGUAGE

* Good spelling, punctuation and grammar will count for 20 per cent of the marks (instead of 12 per cent at present).

* Speaking skills will no longer count towards the exam after claims that assessment by classroom teachers could lead to the marks being bumped up.

* Digital texts (blogs, emails and web texts) will not be included in the course context.

MATHS

* There will be questions on algebra, including the law of indices, co-ordinates, perpendicular lines as well as ratio, geometry and measures and probability

* Exam will be more challenging with students having to apply their knowledge and reasoning to provide clear mathematical arguments

SCIENCE

* Increased emphasis on recall of essential knowledge such as formulae in physics

* More up-to-date perspectives on topics such as genetics/genomics and ecology in biology; inclusion of nanoparticles in chemistry: increased content on energy and space in physics

HISTORY

* Greater focus on the history of Britain (up to 40 per cent from 25 per cent of content and students will be expected to show an understanding of chronology

* No more courses narrowly focused on one period of history - such as Hitler or the Tudors

* A substantial element of study of the history of the wider world (25 per cent)

GEOGRAPHY

* More emphasis on the human and physical geography of the UK

* In physical geography, students will have to show they understand weathering, slope movement and erosion by water, coasts and rivers and climate change.

* In human geography, they should study the causes and effects of urbanisation

MODERN LANGUAGES

* Equal weight (25 per cent of content) to listening (previously 20 per cent), speaking (30 per cent), reading (20 per cent) and writing (30 per cent)

* Oral exams to be part of new GCSEs

LATIN AND GREEK

* Fifty per cent of course devoted to both linguistic competence and cultural competence (an understanding of the literature, society and values of the country)

* Students will be expected to identify and explain the derivation of English words from the ancient language.

Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Randstad Education Cardiff: Maths Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: We are currently recruiting f...

Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher -Full Time - ...

Randstad Education Cardiff: After School Club Worker

£40 - £45 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: Our client in the Newp...

Randstad Education Cardiff: English Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education Cardiff is...

Day In a Page

Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines