The DfE Consultation – The Questions

Posted on December 7, 2012


Below are the questions on the DfE one reforms to KS4 assessment (the proposed replacement of GCSEs with EBCs and the like) alongside some quotes from the consultation document itself. There is no commentary from me here, but if you are concerned with what you read then I urge you to read the full consultation document which can be found here and then get your responses in before the end of the day on Monday.

Q1 Do you agree that the new qualifications should not be called “GCSEs”?

“GCSEs will, therefore, not be used as the title for our new qualifications”

Q2 Do you agree that the new qualifications should be called English Baccalaureate Certificates?

“These subjects(English, Maths, Sciences, History, Geography and Languages) represent an academic foundation which provides a secure base on which to build further study, vocational learning or an apprenticeship”

Q3 If not, what alternative title should be adopted?

Q4 Do you agree with our expectations for grading structures, set out in paragraphs?

“Demand that a candidate was performing beyond the minimum levels which are currently required to achieve a C but…still something we believe all children with a good education should be able to achieve”

“The qualifications will grade lower levels…to assist retake”

“Clear break from the past in how grades are described, so that there is no danger of confusion”

Q5 Do you believe that we should insist on a common grading structure for all EBCs; or should we allow Awarding Organisations the freedom to innovate?

Q6 Do you agree that it will be possible to end tiering for the full range of subjects that we will be creating new qualifications for?

“We believe that wherever possible EBCs should not be tiered”

Q7 Are there particular approaches to examinations which might be needed to make this possible for some subjects?

Q8 We intend that EBCs should be assessed 100% by externally marked examinations. Do you agree?

“Our preferred approach is to remove internal assessment from all six English Baccalaureate subjects”

There are no proposals regarding the assessment of non-EBacc subjects in this review.

Q9 If not, which aspects of English, mathematics, the sciences, history, geography or language do you believe absolutely require internal assessment to fully demonstrate the skills required, and why?

Q10 Should our expectation be that EBCs take the same amount of curriculum time as the current GCSEs? Or should schools be expected to place greater curriculum emphasis on teaching the core subjects?

“The EBacc subjects…are a core set of academic subjects that are valuable for the majority of students”

Q11 Which examinations aids do you consider necessary to allow students to fully demonstrate the knowledge and skills required?

“We believe that the use of such examination aids (calculators, periodic tables, source materials) should be restricted wherever possible”

Q12 Do you agree that these are appropriate subject suites? If not, what would you change?

English Language, English Literature, Mathematics (pure and applied), Optional Additional Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry (no mention made of other EBacc or non-EBacc subjects)

Q13 Is there also a need for a combined science option covering elements of all three sciences?

“We are at present unconvinced by the ability of a single science option to provide students with the scope and rigour to demonstrate real achievement across the three science subjects”

Q14 What qualities should we look for in EBCs that will provide evidence that they will support students to be able to compete internationally?

Q15 Do you agree that we should place a particular emphasis on the successful English language and mathematics qualifications providing the best assurance of literacy and numeracy?

Q16 In order to allow effective teaching and administration of examinations, what support do you think Awarding Organisations should be required to offer and prevented from offering?

“We need to ensure that any support provided does not encourage ‘teaching to the test’, which may mean limiting materials such as past papers, mark schemes and examiner reports”

Q17 How can Awarding Organisations eliminate any unnecessary burdens on schools and post-16 institutions relating to the administration of EBCs?

Q18 Which groups of students do you think would benefit from a “Statement of Achievement” provided by their school?

“All students who are not entered for the qualification should be provided with a ‘Statement of Achievement’ by their school, which sets out their strengths and weaknesses in each subject”

Q19 How should we ensure that all students who would benefit from a “Statement of Achievement” are provided with one?

Could be for “those who are expected to achieve a low grade at 16, or indeed to all students”

Q20 Do you believe any of the proposals in this document have the potential to have a disproportionate impact, adverse or positive, on specific pupil groups; if they have potential for an adverse impact, how can we reduce this?

“Awarding organisations…are required to design their qualifications so that they do not discriminate against students who share a protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion or belief, sex & sexual orientation, marriage & civil partnership)”

Q21 Should we introduce reformed qualifications in all six English Baccalaureate subjects for first teaching in secondary schools in 2015, or should we have a phased approach, with English, mathematics and sciences introduced first?

“English, Maths and Science will be identified in 2013 so that schools have more than 18 months to prepare”

“History, Geography and Language qualifications will be developed to a later timetable”

Q22 How best can we prepare schools for the transition to these reformed, more rigorous qualifications?

Q23 How long will schools need to prepare to teach these reformed qualifications?

Q24 Should the number of languages for which EBCs are identified be limited? If so, which languages should be included?

Overwhelming majority: French, German and Spanish

More than one exam board: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and Urdu

Top 6 for business: French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Polish and Arabic

“Ancient languages provide an important foundation for the study of modern languages and civilisation” No mention is made of community languages.

Q25 Given the potential number of new languages qualifications to be developed, should they be introduced to a later timescale than history and geography EBCs?

Q26 Should we expect post-16 institutions to be ready to provide EBCs at the same time as secondary schools?

Q27 How best can we support post-16 institutions to prepare to provide EBCs?

Q28 Do you agree that five years is an appropriate period for the new qualifications to feature in the performance tables before the competition is rerun?

“Our selected qualifications will be recognised in the headline measures and in performance tables for a period of five years. After that time we plan to repeat the process to ensure that the qualifications offered remain current and reflect the very best in the world”

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